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  1. #11
    Senior Member lowtech redneck's Avatar
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    I have no problem with the subject matter, but requiring students to write letters to 'loved ones' from the perspective of a suicidal teenager is probably going a bit too far for high school students; some will be too emotionally immature/fragile to handle it well.

  2. #12
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Metaphor View Post
    There are two sides to this. I agree with the author if teachers did fit the uniform pattern of being strong communicators and educators, responsible teachers who are well informed and balanced individuals. Where it's dangerous is that not all teachers are created equal. Some are horrible and many are mediocre.

    And yet it's not practical to attempt to shelter kids too much since they're in for a serious shock when they hit the real world. For that matter, consider the content of multimedia. Most of this is garbage.

    And personally, I really hate censorship.
    I used to agree with your last point but then I thought seriously about your first one.

    Its even a problem in the UK outside of education, the activist judiciary tries to reform laws as though all individuals where reasonable, even exemplarly, informed and balanced individuals, it results in criminals being treated as victims.

  3. #13
    Superwoman Red Herring's Avatar
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    Why is it that I cringe in anticipation whenever I hear or read the expression "concerned parents"?

    Don't get me wrong, I don't know how much I would meddle if I had kids and it's not a bad thing per se. But for some reason (maybe selective media coverage) most cases about enraged parents that one reads about seem to be about Helen Lovejoy.

    [YOUTUBE="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qh2sWSVRrmo"]Helen Lovejoy[/YOUTUBE]

    Yes, there are issues and there is material that kids or teenager might need some guidance with to see it in a larger context and have somebody qialified to discuss it with them. But that is one of the things that schools are for. If a parent prefers to discuss these things with their kids on their own terms, they can do so in adition. But I think you do your kids a disfavor if you try to shield them from some of the big but dark issues in life (like racism, violence, suicide and depression, et.). Naturally, a lot of it depends on the age group we are talking about. But teens? They have access to just about anything they want to watch or read anyway and education is a golden opportunity to do it in a supportive and hopefully well trained environment.
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  4. #14
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    I think that children and teenagers are often underestimated when it comes to the information they are able to process when given the opportunity. That being said, you can't discount the possibility that discussion of a specific topic will affect them. After all, if it didn't then there would be no point in bringing it up.

    The subject of suicide, particularly, is a precarious one. This is because people in general, and teenagers in particular, look to similar others in determining what is acceptable behaviour in a given circumstance. As a result, publicized suicides produce what is known as the 'Werther effect', a subsequent increase in suicide by similar people in similar situations. Since books for kids tend to have main characters designed for the average child to empathize with, there is a risk that some children will take the suicide of a teenager in a book as tacit validation for their own suicidal ideation.

    Of course, the same validation could come from friends, the internet, or really any source. Limiting it in one of the few environments where kids are actively given guidance on these issues and challenged to see all angles doesn't seem like it would be particularly helpful.

  5. #15
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Herring View Post
    Why is it that I cringe in anticipation whenever I hear or read the expression "concerned parents"?
    Why is that? This is something which interests me a lot, it could be a quality in all discussion but I tend to find it particularly pronounced in political or cultural discussions, keywords will lead to conclusions in knee jerk fashion, the validity or value of what's being said is disregarded or dismissed. In fact I would venture to say that for some people its considered positive progress if it is. I dont believe that this is a partisan thing either, all political or cultural factions do it, perhaps all people.

    But I think you do your kids a disfavor if you try to shield them from some of the big but dark issues in life (like racism, violence, suicide and depression, et.).
    Why?

  6. #16
    Superwoman Red Herring's Avatar
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    I think it is an all too human reaction to reduce complex issues to key words and phrases. When you hear one of these buzz words, it triggers a cloud of associations and leads to an immediate gut reaction. Probably one of these split-second-decision-to-run-from-the-sable-tooth-tiger things that helps us through life by simplifying what we see.

    Why do I consider it a disfavor? Because these things exists - denying their existence would be to hide a part of reality - and they will have to face them eventually, with or without the guidance of a parent or teacher. If we assume that the coice is not if but when and how they face it, it becomes our responsibility as adults to help them find their way in a world that has both lighter and darker corners.

    Maybe we are talking avbout different age groups here.
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  7. #17
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Herring View Post
    I think it is an all too human reaction to reduce complex issues to key words and phrases. When you hear one of these buzz words, it triggers a cloud of associations and leads to an immediate gut reaction. Probably one of these split-second-decision-to-run-from-the-sable-tooth-tiger things that helps us through life by simplifying what we see.
    I do agree with that, in fact powerfully so and you summed it up perfectly.

    I've always considered mankind, despite all its pride to the contrary, to be more rationalising than rational.

    Why do I consider it a disfavor? Because these things exists - denying their existence would be to hide a part of reality - and they will have to face them eventually, with or without the guidance of a parent or teacher. If we assume that the coice is not if but when and how they face it, it becomes our responsibility as adults to help them find their way in a world that has both lighter and darker corners.
    You dont believe that its possible there's overexposure and desensitisation going on?

    Maybe we are talking avbout different age groups here.
    I dont know, I remember in a different forum a fall out between members when one of them repeatedly posted threads about the same "dark topics", while it created a lot of discussion the majority of that forum (it was an author's forum) didnt like it, they felt it was "too much reality".

    Halla made a similar point to me a while back when I posted a thread about a story from the UK news which could be broken down as "feral children vs. sex offender", a violent adolescent killed an adult she had previously claimed had victimised her, he was under suspiscion but not convicted. I was surprised at Halla's response since when I posted it I'd only thought it was topical, although I did think about it.

    How focused upon the darker things in life do you need to live a life at any age? Is it inevitable that you'll encounter it? Why should that be so?

  8. #18
    Superwoman Red Herring's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    You dont believe that its possible there's overexposure and desensitisation going on?
    On an individual level or on a collective level? I see a difference here. On an individual level, yes, there can be an overexposure that can lead to desensitisation or depression, depending on the person's predisposition. This is one reason why adult monitoring is important. I don't see it happening on a collective level, more likely to the contrary. Yes, there is a perverse pleasure we derive from watching gory news or the latest violent movie, but that is not the same as seriously dealing with the injustice, violence, hunger, torture, fear and despair that does take place in real life while we are reading about that fictional serial killer. One might even argue that dealing with the latter helps us to avoid dealing with the first, but that's just a spontaneous thought. I don't see western society obsessing with injustice, cruelty and depression, rather, we tend to blend these things out.


    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    I dont know, I remember in a different forum a fall out between members when one of them repeatedly posted threads about the same "dark topics", while it created a lot of discussion the majority of that forum (it was an author's forum) didnt like it, they felt it was "too much reality".

    ...

    How focused upon the darker things in life do you need to live a life at any age? Is it inevitable that you'll encounter it? Why should that be so?
    "Too much reality" is a valid reason to ignore something when it comes to your personal reading habits, but do you consider it a valid reason to exclude an aspect of reality from a school syllabus? Isn't education all about helping young people to understand and learn how to deal with reality?

    I'm not arguing in favor of focussing on the dark things. I'm merely saying that closing your eyes, or your children's eyes is no solution to the problem. If they are intelligent kids, yes, I think your children will find out in due time that there is some nasty stuff going on. If you're lucky they won't blame you for not preparing them for it.

    You can excluded yourself from that reality to a certain extend, that is true. To do that you'd have to live in an affluent society, preferably be wealthy yourself and not watch the news or talk to people who look like their life isn't going too well. But that would just isolate you from the world, not change the way things are. It is not much different from retiring into a monestery. And what if your child, moved by what it learned, comes up with a new idea for a solution that will make things easier on generations to come? How's that for optimism?
    The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge. Neither love without knowledge, nor knowledge without love can produce a good life. - Bertrand Russell
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  9. #19
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Herring View Post
    "Too much reality" is a valid reason to ignore something when it comes to your personal reading habits, but do you consider it a valid reason to exclude an aspect of reality from a school syllabus? Isn't education all about helping young people to understand and learn how to deal with reality?
    I'm a little unsure on this point, schooling is conflated with learning and even social learning a lot these days, formal education and schooling I'm not sure is up to the task of being surrogate parents and I'm unsure that it actually should be. I'm in favour of re-examination of most school syllabus with a realistic reappraisal of what schoolls should be aiming to achieve.

    The question about "helping young people to understand and learn how to deal with reality?" I'll have to leave open because its vague, I know that a lot of what is adaptive or maladaptive can be context and culture specific, its a mine field, I'm unsure as a teacher that I would want to be in that terrain.

    I'm not arguing in favor of focussing on the dark things. I'm merely saying that closing your eyes, or your children's eyes is no solution to the problem. If they are intelligent kids, yes, I think your children will find out in due time that there is some nasty stuff going on. If you're lucky they won't blame you for not preparing them for it.
    "If they are intelligent kids" is a pretty big proviso, and also what sort of intelligence are you talking about? IQ? Structured Reasoning? Emotional Intelligence? Social Intelligence? Consequential thinking and reasoning skills dont generally develop until 21 and that developmental milestone is being pushed back all the time, especially in the affluent northern hemisphere.

    I'm unsure about the "won't blame you for not preparing them for it", they could thank you for not exposing them to disillusionment and emotional flooding at an age they are unprepared for it. I'm not talking about keeping anyone in a state of "blessed ignorance" or anything like that, I'm more concerned "well meaning and best intentions gone awry", on a collective or social level there's what to me appears like a huge effort to "close the gate after the horse has bolted" and decisions to include challenging adult themes in literary subjects at school appears to me a microcosm of this trend. The fact that appearing censorious rather than cautious is taboo is part of it aswell.

    You can excluded yourself from that reality to a certain extend, that is true. To do that you'd have to live in an affluent society, preferably be wealthy yourself and not watch the news or talk to people who look like their life isn't going too well. But that would just isolate you from the world, not change the way things are. It is not much different from retiring into a monestery. And what if your child, moved by what it learned, comes up with a new idea for a solution that will make things easier on generations to come? How's that for optimism?
    There's no guarantees that the sort of engagement with people at their worst etc. is going to involve anything other than vacarious trauma, compassion fatigue and burnout, at the best, I'm saying this after more than ten years of direct involvement personally and professionally, there's little in the way of change which I can mark up to my own personal best efforts.

    I dont see there being the kind of dichotomy you're suggesting, reclusive, shut off and withdrawn versus highly engaged and open to all the horrors of life. Both approaches seem a little extreme and in any case individuals need to evaluate what's best for them, I'd suspect that some mixing of each has a lot to recommend itself.

    Something I would say about children learning about adult problems and issues is that they could as easily become part of the problem as part of the solution, the same goes for adults but children are unlikely to have the same reasoning and copeing abilities purely as a result of maturation. I'd also add that as time goes by I'm more and more inclined to believe that there's nothing new under the sun so far as social problems such as aggression, depression and addiction go, the likelihood of learning about suicide or similar subjects early in life will result in new and original remedies seems really unlikely to me.

    In the UK and NI there's record and growing instances of teenage and even younger age group suicide, chain suicides and mini-epidemics, now alienation and the other factors its attributable to most of the time arent new but the exposure of people to this at younger and younger ages, through the internet and other mediums, is.

  10. #20
    Cheeseburgers freeeekyyy's Avatar
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    People are stupid. That is all.
    You lose.

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