LIT 3333 discussion

Baby Girl

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message 1: by Clarissa (last edited Oct 27, 2008 06:17PM) (new)

Clarissa West-White (clarissawestwhite) | 15 comments Mod
This novel, along with the previous two, ends our look at the social costs associated with teen pregnancy. What are your thoughts on the subject? There are school districts and countries that do not allow pregnant teens to attend public school. Even for schools that allow pregnant students, there are usually rules related to them, from not being able to run for homecoming or prom queen to not being allowed in Beta Club or the National Honor Society. Some of the rules were created out of safety concerns and image issues. In Gadsden County for example, the children of teen parents are housed at Carter Parramore but they attend Shanks Middle or East Gadsden High Schools. One problem that an assistant principal at the middle school noted was that these mothers are often late, missing several periods at the start of school each day. This was also an issue at Greensboro High School when I taught there. The school had a daycare but no health clinic. Duh!? How will you keep your biases (we all have them) in check? I was not always so good at it, since I was closer to a few students than others. Often the bus was late. They would then have to take their child(ren) to the daycare on the other side of campus after eating breakfast first. They would stay in daycare to make sure the kids were settled, this was much longer if the child was sick. Since we had 80 minute classes, students would sometime miss their first period class. This was problematic since these classes only lasted either 9 (for 1/2 credit) or 18 weeks (for 1 credit). I don’t want to know how you would teach the novel per se. It’s time to move into more ‘realistic’ issues… How will you use novels such as these to ‘teach’ students about making wise decisions (with the understanding that our biases and beliefs are bound to be displayed in our choice of activities) and to teach to specifically those with kids (whether male or female) in order for them to gain substance and value from the texts and from reading in general? And, how might you combat the 'tude' you are bound to get from these young parents (and their parents in some cases) who may feel that you are aiming your lesson at them even if you are? Finally, is this 'aiming' fair? Would we teach novels that discuss drug use, alcohol abuse, racism and other social issues if we knew they were present in our classes? Isn't this part of a socially conscience teacher? Isn't this our charge?

message 2: by Kaffee (new)

Kaffee | 8 comments First, I will begin by saying that this novel was one my favorite so far. With that said, I'll answer the questions. One way that i would use this and other novels like it to teach my students about making the right decisions would be to have them create their own book clubs. they would form their own small book clubs and read and discuss the topics that the book explores. I find that sometimes, students learn best when they discuss things on their own. I will give them some general topics but let them explore more on their own. We will also come together to discuss the book. I hope that throug this they will see how easy it is to make the wrong decisions and the consequences of these decisions. I know that many of the students in the class, mainly girls, will be able to relate to the book. I wil probablt put the boys in a group of their own so they can discuss the roles that the males played in the book and make them make connections between fiction and reality. To combat the attitude that I may receive from this book, I will blatenly tell all of the students that I am not aiming at any one student but that all students can learn from these books. Even if they are already a parent they still can learn from these books. I will also allow for them to talk about their experience as a young parent to the class. I don't think this aiming is fair, but it is inevitable. The fact that these issues are present in the class is even more reason for the topics to be discussed in the class.

message 3: by Renee (new)

Renee Job | 6 comments I do not think that you can teach someone how to make wise decisions. What may be wise to one may not be wise to another. One way I would try to show them consequences of specific actions is to do a "What if?" exercise. Teaching issues about race, sex, etc., will always stir up feelings within a class, whether it be negative or positive. One way I would teach such issues will be to divide my class into different groups before we even touch anything thats on the syllabus. I would then let them know that they represent members of our society and that I placed them in groups based on random selection. Then as we discuss the different issues thoroughout the different novels, a specific group can elaborate on how they feel about the issue and the other groups can either respectfully challenge or support their ideas. Aiming is not fair but it is a flaw that probably all teachers possess. It is not a bad thing in all situations, it might be necessary to aim an issue to prevent a more unsituable outcome. Issues that our society face should be taught in the classroom. Students have to enter the real world, if some are not already, and they need to be aware of what is going on.

message 4: by Ja'nyre (new)

Ja'nyre Parker | 7 comments Agreeing with my classmate Ms. Campbell, I do feel that there is a need to inspire and teach issues that affect our youth on all levels. I would randomly pair my students together and as we touched on different issues throughout the novels, I would ask students to recall any experiences they’ve had with that issue (whether good or bad) and discuss their feelings about their issues. As the teacher, I would sponsor a prevention or teen awareness type club where students can become aware of the many issues they will face as teenagers, and have them go out and participate in community service activities that relate to the different subject matters that are present throughout the novel. We will often come together to discuss the advantages and disadvantages or consequences of decision making. As far as aiming toward students I would inform the class that nothing discussed or done within the class will be directly aimed to any particular student. However, I will deliberately explore the “what if’s” or the outcomes of decision making. In addition, I will explain that we all make mistakes but we often don’t learn form them, and thus; the cycle continues. I do agree that aiming is unfair; however it is inevitable, and without how can we really measure if the students take heed and learn form their mistakes or not.

message 5: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Russ | 2 comments I wholeheartedly agree with Renee! I do not think that their is a "formula" for teaching someone to make wise decisions. However, as a future educator, I do think that its important to expose students to real life scenarios. I would use novels such as Baby Girl - that deal with teen pregnancy and other social issues - to facilitate discussions. These novels would allow me to pose certain questions such as, "What do you think Ange could have done to prevent her motherly state?" Then, this would lead into the discussion about teen pregnancy...or discussions about other issues such as drug use.
If I had young parents in my class who displayed an attitude when we discussed teen pregnancy, I would ask them if they felt comfortable in that setting. I would ensure them that I am not "aiming" my lesson at them by saying that the novel was selected almost a year prior to the class's charge to read it. If they (student or parent of the teen parent) insisted that they still did not feel comfortable, I would explain to them that the student still needed to read the novel (independently). But, they could work on novel - related assignments in the library during that class for the duration of that unit. This way they won't feel ostracized during discussions.
When it comes to social issues - whether it's race, drugs, or teen pregnancy - I believe that teachers should make sure that the novels that they assign students deal with real-world issues. Besides, real life situations push the students to think critically.

message 6: by Dominique (last edited Nov 21, 2008 10:37AM) (new)

Dominique Ferguson | 7 comments I do not believe that aiming a lesson plan at teen parents is fair or wise. To do this would be preaching which is not right and unfair. Ok yea these kids obviously chose the wrong path and made some unwise decisions but what about the kids who are using drugs, prostituting their bodies or having multiple abortions? Do those kids catch as much heck as the teenage parents? Of course not because we can't see their sin and shame. I applaud teen parents because they refused to take the coward's way out, they're taking care of what is important: their children and our future. Teachers, parents and society can berate teen parents all they want but these kids are doing the right thing which is taking care of their responsibilities.
Teen parents are the ones who got caught and we need to stop downing them because of this fact. I do believe novels used in the classroom should reflect reality but I refuse to make my students and teen parents uncomfortable by beating them over the head with teen pregnancy novels. As far as the problems that occur with my students being late or not showing up because of parent issues I'll help them devise a plan to get it right. Having kids is hard as heck but with a structured plan, lots of support and huge doses of ambition anyone can do it.

message 7: by Kiffani1.jones (new)

Kiffani1.jones | 8 comments I agree with you, whole-heartedly, Dr. West-White. I think it IS important to address issues that are realistic and relevant to our students. If teen pregnancy is an issue within your classroom or the school, then it should definitely be addressed and should be done so in a manner that is tactful to teen parents. Maybe, in the course of teaching students about teen pregnancy, those teen parents could assist/lead class discussions and activities while also explaining how difficult it is to be a teen mother. I think if we include those teens in the lessons as examples--in a good way--it is possible to teach a lesson about it without offending them.

As for other issues...If abortions, drug use and violence are present in that school district or community, why not talk about them? Why not be real with them about their actions and consequences? As English teachers, I believe we have the most influence on students because we address those issues and problems that they cannot discuss in other disciplines. We need to take advantage of this by allowing students who deal with those issues a free place for expression and those who don't, a reality check.

As for teaching students to make correct choices, I agree with Renee. There is nothing we can do to make them do the right thing or choose the right paths. However, we can influence those decisions in a positive way.

message 8: by Kierra (new)

Kierra J. | 8 comments My stance on teen pregnancy is pretty open; I think people’s biggest fear is that pregnant students’ influence on those who aren’t pregnant and who might be interested in becoming pregnant. I think that the decision to continue a “normal life as a student” should be situational and dependent on students as individuals. The major thing is these students will need to know that they have to also maintain their role as a “normal student” and put forth more effort than their peers since they have more and different issues to deal with than most students. If the students find that they can’t handle it, then maybe they should be sent to schools specifically for young parents. Furthermore, such schools should open, say around 9-10 a.m. in order to give young parents enough time to get their child(ren) and themselves settled. Obviously my biases will show and that’s something I’m worried about; in other words, in theory it’s great to say “Oh no! I would say anything wrong in regard to my students!”, but realistically we’re all human and have our reservations about teen pregnancy. Rather than kick myself for saying something wrong, I hope that with such teaching I could help students broaden their horizons and think about pregnancy and its consequences wholly. Hopefully students and/or parents won’t be offended by the material (it will be stated in the welcome letter that controversial topics will be discussed anyway), and it they don’t want their child in my class then they can remove them. It seems teen pregnancy would be lumped into the same category as drug abuse, etc. in literature, but for some reason it stands out. Sex in general in so cliché lately; parents don’t want to talk about it, yet their children are curious about it and are acting upon it without proper knowledge. I would much rather be worried about students that I do reach with facts and ensure that I continue to provide them with the truth versus the myths they get from their friends and television.

message 9: by Jana (new)

Jana Smith | 14 comments I agree as well with everyone else in saying that this was one of the most interesting books we have read. I think it is one that students will relate to. I do think that it is an educators job to make students aware of real life situations.For so long so many students slip through the cracks because they had no one to make them aware of any real life situation.I think I could incorporate this book into my curriculum to teach the importance of making wise decisions. Some students need us to make them knowledgeable of some things because they don't have that person at home who is willing to do so.

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