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Mortified in the Classroom

Suggested Applications:


Institutions of Higher Education

Suggested Audience: Those Teaching Pre-Service Secondary Education Students
Topic: Values and Priorities
Suggested Applications: Moderate a group discussion about what kids and teenagers view as most important in their lives—from the seemingly trivial to the tragic. Create a list that may include events, objects, people places, or more. Do these “psychological tent poles” shift with age and/or certain events we live through? If so, why are certain subject matters viewed with intensity during younger ages? Are childhood values that adults deem frivolous any less valid or important?
Rationale: It’s important for aspiring teachers to slip into the mindsets of students and remember what it was like having to deal with getting good grades while juggling often pressures of private, social, and family life. Following the thought processes of kids as they react life’s situation acts as a great time machine. It’s not about remembering the events that happened as kids. Rather, it’s about they way we interpreted those events. When we’re young, everything seems huge—from serious issues such as death or divorce to seemingly harmless issues such as growing being rejected for a dance. When we’re young, we lack those distinctions and thus many experiences remain on par. It’s beneficial to remember that if it’s important to them, it might be worth hearing out.
Suggested Entries from Book: The Challenger Song by Krista Lanphear and Keleigh Lanphear; An Olympic-Size Love by Christina Kerby

Suggested Audience: Pre-Service Health Education Majors
Topic: Creating Lessons
Suggested Application: Encourage students to write lesson plans inspired by book excerpts using the National Health Education Standards (NHES). Much of the book’s content relates to issues that occur in a comprehensive middle and high school health education curriculum. For example, students might write a persuasive essay or speech responding to one of the authors in the book (NHES- Advocacy, Interpersonal Communication, Language Arts Standards- speaking/writing). Students may also use a decision making model around one of the unhealthy behaviors that one of the authors participates in – gossip, stealing, sex, lying— so that the outcome is a healthy decision (Decision Making). Students can then analyze the pressures that the authors in the book felt (Analyzing Influences).
Suggested Entries from Book: I Hate Drake by Will Nolan; Taxicab Confessional by Blaise K; Miami Vices by Sascha Rothchild


High School Classrooms*

Suggested Audience: Students (Juniors, Seniors)
Topic: Persuasive Essay
Suggested Applications: Invite students to write a persuasive note or letter (NHES- Advocacy, Interpersonal Communication) to understand and empathize with people of other genders, religions, races, generations, physicality, interests, life experiences, class rank, or more. If possible, encourage students to pick entries that do not on the surface resemble their own life experiences. Regardless of whether or not they liked this person, were they able to relate to this person? If so, to what? Were they surprised to find these similarities? Were they surprised to discover certain differences in the way different people view shared situations?
Suggested Entries from Book: The Missionary Imposition by Kirsten Gronfield; Bad Advice by Anonymous; Fight the Power by Niya Palmer; Smoove Boyz by Jacob Goldman

Suggested Audience: Students (Juniors, Seniors)
Topic: Self Expression
Suggested Applications: Encourage students to keep a daily journal or other personal memoir. Journals are a great way for students to express their emotions and feelings in a healthy way (Language Arts Standards-Writing). Are these entries sad? Heroic? Funny? Empowering? What do students feel these authors got out of the experience of writing about their lives (be it via a journal, a song, a poem or a letter)?
Suggested Entries from Book: Problem Child by Neil Katcher; The Rodeo Drive Diet by Lori Gottlieb

Suggested Audience: Students (Juniors, Seniors)
Topic: Social Beliefs
Suggested Applications: Moderate a group discussion or teach lessons that debunk social myths or explore taboos.
Suggested Entries from Book (a): The Porn by Sara Barron. Here, a child is writing about sex without much understanding, notably confusing the concept of an orgasm. Use excerpts to help the students understand that everyone has heard myths about sex. Open dialog with students about the author’s entry. Why do they suppose the author lacked the correct facts about sex—was it misinformation, a fear of asking, too young to learn, etc? Why do they suppose the author, without actually having a sexual experience at that time, attempted to write something about that subject, let alone so explicitly? Was this perverse or healthy? Discuss student’s own attitudes toward this subject matter. Relate it to their lives directly. Where do we first get information about sex? Is it always accurate? How important is it to access accurate information (NHES- Accessing Information)? What is inaccurate in this excerpt? What are myths we hear about sex? What are some of our own preconceived notions about sexuality that turned out be untrue?
Suggested Entries from Book (b): Fight the Power by Niya Palmer. A great example of a teenager writing from the point of view of an “outsider,” this piece showcases an independent-minded girl tackling issues of race, romance, holidays, and more. The result is a piece that delicately balances social taboos and norms. Was the author offended, offensive or both? Beyond the simple fact that she held such beliefs, why did the author feel the need to express them with such intensity? Was it merely a matter of personal conviction? Did the author feel heard? Did she offend you? Why? Did she inform you? How? Why are certain topics deemed dangerous to address, let alone challenge? What are some social taboos that students deal with in school? When is confronting taboos helpful? When is confronting taboos not helpful?


*NOTE: Please keep mind, since our project is designed to present an "unflinching" first-person account of youth, some material is considerably intense or racy (addressing sexuality, spirituality, health, ethnicity) and not appropriate for all audiences. Use your professional judgment. We strongly suggest seeking approval from administrators on a chapter-by-chapter basis before integrating this in an educational setting aimed at youth. Even though it was written by people under the age of nineteen, you may not find it suitable for them to read in entirety or part.

TALK TO US: Hey teachers! Have you had success using this in class? Want to tell others? Feel free to email us a testimonial and we'd love to post your quotes.