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Jun 30 / Mr. Science

Why are we learning about this “stuff”?

Book Question: “Why are we learning about this stuff?”

Answering pubescent questions scrawled on three-by-five note cards is like playing the lottery, I never win. The first time I read this anonymous question aloud in front of my class, I began daydreaming about the more typical middle school science fare of photosynthesis, the solar system, and cell anatomy—where penises and vaginas are thankfully absent. Perhaps my students would rather I return to teaching the more traditional science fare? That might be my winning ticket!

Only the silence snapped me out of my fleeting dream back to the sour smell of 30-plus eighth graders staring expectantly at me. Weird (the staring and silence). Not only were all of the teenage specimens keeping their hands to themselves, but they were as motionless as the lonely bathroom pass hanging from its well-worn hook. Apparently, everyone, from Goth groupies to the soccer stars wearing neon jerseys, had a reason to pay attention to this stuff. My job—albeit an underpaid one—was to teach it to them.

What I calmly told my classes was along the lines of: “You need to know how the human reproductive systems work because your ability to make wise sexual decisions is positively influenced by your understanding. The more you know about the biology and psychology of sex, the better equipped you are to avoid unhealthy decisions (narrowly avoiding the word mistakes).”

Fortunately, humans filter words for their own purposes and here is what my students likely heard from me: “You had better get this shit straight so you don’t end up pregnant or with some incurable disease!” Kids are a lot smarter than we give them credit for.

-Mr. Science


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