The Life of Bon: The Birds and the Bees

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Birds and the Bees

I have come to the conclusion that I am immature.

My students, even moreso.

This happened today while reading October Sky with my sophomores.  We have reached a key point in the novel where the main character, Sonny, has his first "experience" with a girl.

I could have easily cut out these pages, but I decided to leave them in.  There's a lot of reasons why I decided to do this, none of which I feel like justifying to you.  I did, however, feel like I needed to justify it to my students.  Here's a little tip for you.  If you ever decide to teach high school English you better get real good at justifying real quick.  You gotta have a reason for everything you read or else those parents will be on you like vultures on a corpse, "Why are you reading this if it's boring?" "Why are you reading this if it's hard to understand?"  "Why are you reading this if there is a cuss word/violence/sex (GASP!)" 

***(One day I'll post some conversations/emails from parents complaining about the material we read.  One complained that The Hiding Place was putting her child to sleep and couldn't I find any books that weren't "boring my child to death"?  Another parent complained about a scene in a book where a soldier lies on the bed next to his crush and touches her kneecap all night because he is afraid of losing her when he goes to war.  HER KNEECAP!)

So I prefaced the reading with this:  "I am going to warn you guys, and I ask you to be mature about it.  There is a sex scene in your reading for today."

Automatic whispering/rustling/excitement.  Hey, these guys are 16 years old.  You understand, don't you?

I went on, "The scene is pages 280-283.  It is very vague, and not at all graphic, but it is important to the plot of the story.  This has a significant effect on Sonny, on his goals, and how the rest of the plot develops.  However, if you feel uncomfortable reading this scene, you can skip it."

Instant mayhem.

"Why would we skip it?!?!?"  Dan said as he furiously flipped to the pages.
"Finally this book is about to get good!"  Brad yelled for all to hear.
"Wait... why do we have to read about sex!?!?"  Innocent Lara was offended.

I tried to calm them down.  "Guys, we need to talk about this before you dive in."  Didn't they understand?  I had to justify the book, dang it!  These kids needed to know why I felt it necessary to have them read this scene!  Didn't they care about understanding the impact of this one night on the rest of Sonny's hopes and aspirations and ultimately on his manhood?  DIDN'T THEY CARE?!?!?! 

My attempts were all in vain.  The kids were straight up ignoring me like some gangly, unpopular school girl.

"Okay, guys, I need you to calm down.  I need to tell you why we are reading this scene even though it could be considered inappr--"

Dan cut me off midsentence, "I'm sorry, Teacher, but if you think we're going to be listening to you when we can be reading about this- well, you're wrong!"

And then I had to laugh.  You know the laugh- the immature, awkward "I'm 15 years old" giggle.  I could feel my face turning beat red, and I just laughed and laughed.  I guess you can only pretend to be mature for so long before you crack.

The kids laughed with me for a moment, but I was shocked at how quiet the room grew so quickly.  They sat in silence, all forty students deeply immersed in their books.

And I guess when it comes down to it, you can't complain about a quiet classroom can you?  Now, let's see if this immature teacher and her immature students can survive next class period where we have to analyze the impact of this event on Sonny's life. 

Stay tuned.  This could get good.


  1. That's just like our 5th graders starting to realize that the teachers have a chest and they are trying to hug every teacher and lay their heads on them. Makes you laugh but you can't because you're the teacher!

  2. i had the same problem when i taught romeo and juliet. i love immaturity in the classroom. it makes me chuckle. what happened today? i am intrigued.

  3. haha! this made me laugh. to be sixteen again! lol! ;)

  4. hahaha

    parents complaints can be so ridiculous!!

  5. Oh, brother...parents! I would have such a hard time biting my tongue. "Dear Concerned Mother, I'm sorry that your daughter finds this first-hand account written by a Holocaust survivor who saved countless lives through her efforts less than riveting. Maybe we can find something a little more momentous and life-altering to read?" asdlfjalskdjflkasd


    I would have giggled, too, by the way!

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