The arms are out to hold some balance
But really it’s impossible
To strike a fair and even pose
When some will love the gore and blood
While others shy from simple words.
It’s hard but, oh, it must be done
To teach our kids the darker side
Of a world we built with our own hands,
Passed to them with shameful eyes,
Lowered to avoid the guilt.
I wrote about grief the other day, and how difficult it seems to be to talk to kids about these difficult subjects. It’s especially difficult not knowing all of their personal circumstances and what could be particularly triggering for them. But where is the line between being too graphic and just sheltering them from a pretty dark world.
In my tutor group I was asked to speak to them about what happened to the teacher in Paris on Friday. It was pretty gruesome but they handled it so well and they asked some amazing questions. They are Year 11 but it was still refreshing to have such mature conversations with them about something so terrible.
I then went to a Year 7 class to teach A Monster Calls and I had a student in floods of tears because of the cancer that is brought up in the book. She had lost a close family member and it was just too hard for her to deal with it. She handled it so well, asking if she could speak to me outside and I found her somewhere quiet to go and sit and read.
But this just goes to show how different students can react so differently to an event or a story. And where do we draw a line? One teacher refuses to teach A Monster Calls because parents get angry. That’s a perfectly acceptable point of view, but are we sheltering them from a world that’s pretty nasty? What happens when they become an adult and they don’t have the emotional resilience to cope with problems?
I ask this because I was one of those sheltered kids and the only way that I could deal with emotional pain as an adult was to drink. It stole my twenties away from me and I fear that these kids are going to suffer in the same way.
It’s a difficult decision to make, but it’s such an important one too. I applaud the Year 11’s who approached the story of the killing with so much maturity and my heart goes out to my Year 7. But I also think it’s really important to actually educate kids in what the world is really like.