The Most Commonly Asked Questions Sex-Ed Students Ask

January 17, 2020

 

Whilst I think Sex-Ed should be primarily the responsibility of parents, I can appreciate the reason why schools feel a responsibility to educate students about safe sex and relieve some of their students’ concerns.

If I were teaching Sex-Ed, I would begin by going over some of the most popular questions asked by children to reassure students that their questions are neither unique nor childish or ignorant.

The following fascinating article addresses some of these questions:

Regardless of whether they grew up in the ’80s or the aughts, kids of certain ages always ask versions of the same questions, Roffman has found. For instance, middle-school students, she said, want to know if their bodies and behaviours are “normal.” Many older students ask her at what age it’s normal to start masturbating.

High schoolers routinely ask about romantic communication, relationships, and the right time for intimacy: “Who makes the first move?” “How do you know if you or the other person is ready for the ‘next level’?” “How can you let someone down easy when you want to break up?”  

But some contemporary questions, Roffman said, are very different from those she heard earlier in her career. Sometimes the questions change when the news does. (More than 30 years ago, Roffman started reading two newspapers a day to keep up with the rapid pace of news about HIV and AIDS; she’s maintained the habit since.)

She said she received a flood of questions about sexual harassment after the Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, in the early 1990s. The same decade ended with a spike in student interest in oral sex and behaviors that had previously been considered more taboo, such as anal sex.

Sometimes changing student questions signal broader cultural shifts, like the recent surge in student queries about gender identities. “There would have been questions 20 years ago about sexual orientation, but not about gender diversity,” Roffman said. But one recent eighth-grade cohort submitted questions like “How many genders are there?” “What does ‘gender roles’ mean?” “What is the plus sign for in LGBTQIA+?” and “Why is ‘gay’ called ‘gay’?” She finds a way to answer them all.

 

Special Announcement:

I am donating 100% of the royalties of my hilarious new children’s book, My Favourite Comedian, during the month of January to those affected by the devastating bushfires in my country, Australia. This book is perfect for children aged 9 to 14 and the ideal class novel for Upper Primary students. Please leave a comment to indicate your purchase. You can buy a copy by clicking on this link.

Is There Anything Better Than the Laugh of a Child?

January 17, 2020

 

They tell teachers to avoid showing too much personality and that a teacher’s humour can be seen as a weakness. It can lead to a chaotic and uncontrolled classroom.

But I don’t care. I’ll take my chances.

Humour, is essential to who I am as a parent, teacher and now, writer. I don’t seek the laughter of children in the same way as I seek their happiness, security and academic progress. But I certainly don’t believe in withholding humour from the classroom.

Watching the clip above, I couldn’t help but reflect on the amazing impact of a child’s uncontrollable laughter. One of my great joys has been sharing my book, My Favourite Comedian, and watching kids laugh throughout.

So, no, I am not shutting shop on laughter any time soon.

 

Special Announcement:

I am donating 100% of the royalties of my hilarious new children’s book, My Favourite Comedian, during the month of January to those affected by the devastating bushfires in my country, Australia. This book is perfect for children aged 9 to 14 and the ideal class novel for Upper Primary students. Please leave a comment to indicate your purchase. You can buy a copy by clicking on this link.

Is Recess a Human Right?

January 16, 2020

When I was a school kid, I didn’t merely think “play” was a human right, I thought “playing up” was a human right.

As a teacher, I certainly value the benefits of allowing my students to experience pleasurable periods of healthy play. However, I am also of the belief that kids who waste class time risk losing some of their own downtime. Actions must have consequences, and consequences must involve the loss of something important to the child.

Child author, Michael Rosen, would probably be quite disappointed in me:

 

Play is a fundamental human right, Michael Rosen has said.

The children’s author and poet said that play should not be seen as an “add on”, or an “extra” as he urged adults and children to “get out there and play”.

Rosen’s comments come in a video by the British Psychological Society (BPS), which has said it is concerned that break times are being eroded.

In the video, called Right To Play, Rosen, a former Children’s Laureate who is best known for books such as We’re Going On A Bear Hunt, says: “Play isn’t an extra, it isn’t an add on.

“Play is a fundamental human right.”

Dan O’Hare from the BPS division educational and child psychology said: “Children’s break time has been reduced by 45 minutes a week in recent years, and one of the results is that eight out of 10 children now do less than one hour of physical activity per day.

“We are grateful to Michael Rosen and the children in the video for helping us make the case that play is vital for schoolchildren. Because play isn’t just a means to an end: it’s fundamental to children’s development and wellbeing.”

 

Special Announcement:

I am donating 100% of the royalties of my hilarious new children’s book, My Favourite Comedian, during the month of January to those affected by the devastating bushfires in my country, Australia. This book is perfect for children aged 9 to 14 and the ideal class novel for Upper Primary students. Please leave a comment to indicate your purchase. You can buy a copy by clicking on this link.

ADHD Desperation Has Lead Parents to Marijuana

January 15, 2020

I am not a doctor, so I try not to make sweeping statements about ADHD. I suspect that ADHD is real but overdiagnosed.

What upsets me more than anything when it comes the explosion of ADHD diagnoses of young children, is that many doctors seem to overlook other possible causes such as sleep deprivation, anxiety, family issues and diet way too readily.

Was that a sweeping statement? I hope not.

What is clear, is that parents of ADHD are as anxious as ever to find a quick cure. Even going to the extent of experimenting with drugs, with little to no scientific reasoning behind the treatments administered:

Some parents of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have grown wary of Ritalin and Adderall, common treatments for the condition, because of the stimulants’ side effects and potential for long-term abuse. Now they’re turning to doctors who will prescribe medical marijuana instead.

“They have seen improved performance in school and happier and calmer kids at home,” Elizabeth Spaar, a family-medicine physician in Verona, Pennsylvania, told Insider, referring to how her pediatric patients and her own children with ADHD have responded to medical marijuana.

There’s only scant research to support the usefulness of treating ADHD with medical marijuana, and the course of treatment isn’t without its share of risks. Some medical experts are concerned about how it can affect cognitive development, especially in developing brains, as well as how it could impair short-term memory.

This is a dangerous game we’re playing and the staggering 10% of kids diagnosed with ADHD seem to be the guinea pigs.

 

Special Announcement:

I am donating 100% of the royalties of my hilarious new children’s book, My Favourite Comedian, during the month of January to those affected by the devastating bushfires in my country, Australia. This book is perfect for children aged 9 to 14 and the ideal class novel for Upper Primary students. Please leave a comment to indicate your purchase. You can buy a copy by clicking on this link.

How to Take A Snubbing!

January 15, 2020

 

Being snubbed is par for the course in education. Experienced and highly capable teachers are often overlooked for leadership roles at the expense of rawer and less experienced colleagues. Teachers are also often kept on one-year deals when they have their heart set on more permanent arrangements.

Students also get snubbed. Some miss out on scholarships and awards, whilst others are left bewildered and dejected when they find out they aren’t school captain after all.

I guess that’s life. Disappointment is a reality of the world we live in. Not everything has to make sense to us.

It then becomes a question of how we deal with the disappointment.

The Answer: Do an Adam Sandler!

Adam Sandler has issued a lighthearted reaction after his critically acclaimed performance in Uncut Gems was snubbed by the Oscars.

This year’s set of nominations has attracted criticism for its lack of diversity, and for overlooking a number of films that received rave reviews from critics. 

Among them was Sandler’s role as charismatic jeweller Howard Ratner, who works in the Manhattan diamond district. The role was widely held as proof that Sandler was capable of more than just goofball comedies. 

In a response, Sandler joked on Twitter that he was happy he no longer had to wear suits to awards ceremonies, and also shouted out his former Waterboy co-star Kathy Bates. 

“Bad news: Sandman gets no love from the Academy,” he began. “Good news: Sandman can stop wearing suits. Congrats to all my friends who got nominated, especially mama.”

 

Special Announcement:

I am donating 100% of the royalties of my hilarious new children’s book, My Favourite Comedian, during the month of January to those affected by the devastating bushfires in my country, Australia. This book is perfect for children aged 9 to 14 and the ideal class novel for Upper Primary students. Please leave a comment to indicate your purchase. You can buy a copy by clicking on this link.

The Essential Skill That No Teacher is Taught

January 15, 2020

A crazed student initiates a physical altercation with a teacher.

Unfortunately, it is not an uncommon occurrence.

But even still, after all my years of experience, I have no idea what the best way to handle such a situation is. Early in my teaching journey, I refused to defend myself against an emotional young boy who delivered a tirade of punches aimed at my ribs. I decided I would rather take the punishment than risk losing my career.

Interestingly, teachers update their first aid and anaphylaxis skills yearly so that their response will be informed, calm and conducted with a duty of care.

Surely, helping teachers navigate a scenario like the one in Miami would be beneficial. 

Video of the violent altercation was posted to social media after the student and the teacher were filmed brawling inside a classroom at Miami Central Senior High School on Monday. The teacher is seen pulling on the girl’s long hair and putting her into a headlock while pressing her onto a desk. She then loses her hold on the student, who charges the teacher and slams her to the ground as her classmates can be heard screaming, ‘Oh! Oh!’ A male student is seen pulling the schoolgirl off of the substitute teacher, who gets on top of the teenager and pins her to the ground.

The footage, which is approximately ninety seconds long, does not show how the fight began, although Miami-Dade Public Schools officials said the student was not supposed to be in the classroom. Other students at the school identified the teacher as ‘Ms Ferguson’ and said she is known as a nice teacher, according to WSVN.

For those who questioned my decision to let the child strike me, please refer to the official response by the school district which, even after the video went viral, referred to the well-being of the student before the safety of the teacher.

In a statement on Monday, school district spokesperson Daisy Gonzalez-Diego said: ‘Miami-Dade County Public Schools does not tolerate incidents that jeopardize the safety and well-being of students and staff members. We are deeply troubled by the behavior exhibited on this video.’

 

Special Announcement:

I am donating 100% of the royalties of my hilarious new children’s book, My Favourite Comedian, during the month of January to those affected by the devastating bushfires in my country, Australia. This book is perfect for children aged 9 to 14 and the ideal class novel for Upper Primary students. Please leave a comment to indicate your purchase. You can buy a copy by clicking on this link.

 

Why I’d Prefer Kids Read My Book in Print Than Digitally

January 15, 2020

My new children’s book, My Favourite Comedian, is available in both print and digital form. My royalty is slightly better for digital purchases due to the fact there are no printing costs involved. But I would prefer that kids buy a physical book over a digital one.

I believe that reading from a physical book is better for kids’ eyes and for their comprehension of the material.

 

A recent article backs up my theory:

But Atkinson, who guesses that her family of four in Orinda, California, spends half their reading time with physical books, said that she has noticed a difference between how her son reads paper books and how he reads digitally. He has a tendency to skim more in Epic! “He might be more inclined to flip in Epic!, just flip through and see if he likes a book, skipping around. When it’s a physical book, he’s going to sit and read until he’s tired of reading. But in Epic!, he knows there are so many [books], he will read a little faster.”

According to San Jose State University researcher Ziming Lu, this is typical “screen-based reading behavior,” with more time spent browsing, scanning and skimming than in-depth reading. As reading experiences move online, experts have been exploring how reading from a screen may be changing our brains. Reading expert Maryanne Wolf, author of Proust and the Squid, has voiced concerns that digital reading will negatively affect the brain’s ability to read deeply for sophisticated understanding, something that Nicholas Carr also explored in his book, The Shallows. Teachers are trying to steer students toward digital reading strategies that practice deep reading, and nine out of ten parents say that having their children read paper books is important to them.

 

Special Announcement:

I am donating 100% of the royalties of my hilarious new children’s book, My Favourite Comedian, during the month of January to those affected by the devastating bushfires in my country, Australia. This book is perfect for children aged 9 to 14 and the ideal class novel for Upper Primary students. Please leave a comment to indicate your purchase. You can buy a copy by clicking on this link.

 

Elton John is Right About Music in Schools

January 14, 2020

 

I read a report that links music skills with math. Kids that learn to play music make startling progress in mathematics. This report completely dismisses the argument that music is merely an expendable extra-curricular activity.

Elton John is of course right to rail against plans to diminish the scope and importance of music at school level:

There was a rather lovely moment during the Q&A when four of those students stood up and spoke about what they had achieved thanks to their star sponsor. This of course begged the question: what does Elton make of the dwindling presence of music in today’s schools?

“Music was one of the few O Levels I managed to get,” Sir Elton tells Tim.

“A lot of schools [now] have taken music out of the curriculum and I find that really appalling, because music is so inspiring and for kids that have the ability or want to play music, there’s no outlet for this in schools anymore. It’s tragic.”

 

Special Announcement:

I am donating 100% of the royalties of my hilarious new children’s book, My Favourite Comedian, during the month of January to those affected by the devastating bushfires in my country, Australia. This book is perfect for children aged 9 to 14 and the ideal class novel for Upper Primary students. Please leave a comment to indicate your purchase. You can buy a copy by clicking on this link.

Imagine if the Best Picture Nominees Were About Teaching

January 14, 2020

 

 

 

BEST PICTURE NOMINEES

“Ford v Ferrari” – An expose about what car a successful teacher can afford compared to a successful YouTube makeup vlogger
“The Irishman” – An Irish teacher’s anti-ageing efforts are undone by the fact that he is a Primary school teacher.
“Jojo Rabbit” – A horror film about the accidental murder of a beloved class pet at the hands of an errant crayon.
“Joker” – A dark psychological portrait about the slow, psychotic disintegration of an unloved and self-destructive Minister of Education.
“Little Women” – A sci-fi set in a utopian world where girls are encouraged to do STEM subjects.
“Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood” – The story of a teacher who wishes he had a stunt double to negotiate the pushing and shoving in a narrow school corridor.
“Marriage Story” – A searing drama about the relationship breakdown of an educator and her Assistant Principal after the tumult of a nasty parent email.
“Parasite” – A biographical film about the person who invented standardized testing.
“1917” – An examination of the last year teachers got a pay rise.

Special Announcement:

I am donating 100% of the royalties of my hilarious new children’s book, My Favourite Comedian, during the month of January to those affected by the devastating bushfires in my country, Australia. This book is perfect for children aged 9 to 14 and the ideal class novel for Upper Primary students. Please leave a comment to indicate your purchase. You can buy a copy by clicking on this link.

Top 10 Female Characters in Kids Books

January 13, 2020

 

The following is a list adapted from an article by Allison McDonald. The criteria is that the character had to show girls how to be fierce and fearless:

#10) Beatrice Prior from The Divergent Series by Veronica Roth
Brave doesn’t seem like a strong enough word for Tris. She is more than brave — she seems propelled to do the right thing no matter what stands in her way.

#9) Pippi from Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
Pippi is the self-proclaimed strongest girl in the world…and she lives with a monkey named Mr. Nilsson! If that’s not reason enough for her inclusion on this list, you’ll have to re-read this classic to find a million more.

#8) Ramona Quimby from The Ramona Series by Beverly Cleary
Ramona is far from perfect but she has a huge heart, a creative mind, and never loses sight of who she is.

#7) Princess Truly from Princess Truly in I Am Truly by Kelly Greenawalt
Brimming with confidence, this diverse character has no problem loving herself. Princess Truly teaches your child about self-acceptance and self-love, showing that she can do whatever it is she sets her mind to. Talk about princess power!

#6) Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
Anne Shirley has to have puffed sleeves, bravely saves her best friend’s sister, and even walks along the rooftop to show she isn’t afraid. She stands up for herself, her friends, and for what is right many times over —showing her strength and confidence each and every time.

#5) Cleopatra from the Cleopatra in Space series by Mike Maihack
Time traveling and saving the galaxy? What can’t this girl do? Cleopatra shows the universe who’s boss when her 15-year-old self travels into the future to save all of humanity. With a lot of drive, determination, bravery, and a little sass, this traveling queen knows who’s boss and plans to show the world just that.

#4) Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins
When I read how Katniss volunteered to take her sister’s place as tribute, I cried. When I saw the scene on film, I cried. And now, years later, writing about it, I still have chills. Sure, she fights and shows strength in so many other ways, but that one act is central to her character, and why she is one of the best female characters you will find on this list.

#3) Matilda Wormwood from Matilda by Roald Dahl
There is something incredibly calm and self-assured about Matilda. She knows her family is filled with idiots, she knows she’s not an idiot, and at a very young age she goes about educating herself because no one else seems to care.

#2) Nancy Drew from the Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keene
If there’s a mystery to solve, Nancy is on the job. With a magnifying glass and a keen sense of wonder, Nancy Drew can decipher any question and her bravery is no match for the cases thrown her way.

#1) Hermione Granger from The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
I could wax poetic about Hermione Ganger for days. Her intellect is apparent from the start, as is her drive to succeed. She saves Ron and Harry countless times during the series, but her most heroic act is saving her parents. I don’t want to ruin this for anyone who hasn’t read the final book, but let me just warn you there will be tears. You will be awed not only by the depth of her strength but by the depth of the love that fuels it. Oh, one more reason Hermione is my #1 pick? For the time she punched Malfoy. (I know hitting is wrong, but I know you cheered while reading that too!)

 

Special Announcement:

I am donating 100% of the royalties of my hilarious new children’s book, My Favourite Comedian, during the month of January to those affected by the devastating bushfires in my country, Australia. This book is perfect for children aged 9 to 14 and the ideal class novel for Upper Primary students. Please leave a comment to indicate your purchase. You can buy a copy by clicking on this link.


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