April 2018

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


I often witness surprising misunderstandings in high schools.

A teacher in an affluent, conservative area, a teacher who is loved and also lives in the area, got a furious call from a parent who had heard that her child was learning how to have orgies in her health class.

What had really happened? The teacher had taped off a shape the size of a bed on the classroom carpet. She had two students step onto the bed, symbolizing the idea that the two had had sex. Then, in the simulation, each had two more students step into the bed, symbolizing that each had had sex with one of the partners in the past. They all stayed in the taped off square in this simiulation of how AIDS can spread, as more students entered the simulation. I think the point was anti-orgy, but the point seems to have been lost on the student or at least on the parent.

In another school, a very sweet young teacher asked her class on the first day of the school year to write on their index card their favorite pet. Students handed in their cards and this sweet young teacher read the cards aloud, one at a time. She directed all of the students to stand up and then sit down if that card didn't apply to them, and they all would learn something new about one of their classmates. What fun!

This sweet young teacher, not recognizing the slang term for penis, read aloud. "One-eyed snake. Now that's interesting! Who has a one-eyed snake?" No student would confess to it, though several giggled. "What's so funny?" she asked. "Really. Who has a one-eyed snake." She perservered, but no student ever confessed. As the students left class on that first day, their sweet teacher said again, "I really want to know who has a one-eyed snake."

In another class, a teacher had not previewed the statistics from Harper's magazine that she would use to start class that day, and to begin class, she began reading off the statistics. Towards the bottom of the page, she read, "This percentage of people are vajazzled." After she read, she tried to move quickly forward, but several students asked, "What's vajazzled?" She didn't know. "I know! I know!"went up the eager hands of some students. "It's when a woman has her vagina embedded with jewels, so that they sparkle."

Well, I"ll be. She didn't asked vajazzled students to stand and be recognized. She just went right on and hoped that this moment might be forgotten.

Another teacher told me that when she was student teaching, during a “Walk your Talk” activity (a pre-reading activity before delving into the book Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson). it became clear that most students believed that if a girl starts making out with a guy then the guy can assume she wants to have sex. So, she stopped the activity, and the class had a conversation about consent. One student said something, using very inappropriate slang for “oral sex." The student teacher explained that, no, even if this is happening the girl still needs to give consent. "And the correct term is fellatio."

A parent phoned the student teacher after school to ask why this student teacher was “teaching her son how to have oral sex."

That same teacher has another story that I've forgotten now. I remember that it has to do with pole-dancing. How could you forget that? I'll be it wasn't on the test, though.

The fun things never are.

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