Teaching Health to Grade 8 Students

So I’m attacking the subject material in a grade 8 Health class, trying to make it relevant to the students’ lives in an inner city school of a troubled neighbourhood.

And it just so happens that the unit of the week, required teaching by the way, is on substance use and abuse. Yeah, not just use; you have to throw in abuse to complete the rhyming couplet and, I guess, put some fear into those adolescent minds.

Grade 8 students do not show much fear these days. They most likely feel it but don’t always display it. I know that they could tell me a thing or two about the subject; not because I suspect they take drugs but because they live among drug-takers in their neighbourhood and they are street smart and they learn pretty quickly.
say no to drugs

Sad to think that they grow up so fast.

I consider myself a fair teacher. I won’t let the brazen ways of intermediate students bowl me over. I won’t show any shock at their sometimes crude responses. And they do come.

When they start throwing out words embedded with street slang such as cush (marijuana) and mollies (amphetamines), I have to ask them what the words mean. “Never heard of that,” I say honestly. I’m not exactly naïve but they probably think I am.

Someone asks about ephedra (Had to look that one up) and someone else asks why we’re only talking about things like cannabis and alcohol and “not the big ones.” The big ones? Crystal meth is one of the examples she uses.

Wow. They may simply be trying to impress me and each other with their knowledge.

Sometimes, teaching is scary.


About randycoates

Randy Coates graduated from the University of Waterloo with a bachelor of arts degree and went on to acquire his teacher’s certificate at the University of Western Ontario. He is currently an elementary teacher in the Toronto District Board of Education.
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2 Responses to Teaching Health to Grade 8 Students

  1. What a tough issue to tackle, but so, so necessary. My background is research on substance use and abuse (or chemical dependency, to throw in another term with different connotations!) That’s how I started in Graduate School. Even back then we would see teenagers in the treatment centre where I worked that were hooked up crystal meth (had never heard of it until I worked there). Now shows like Breaking Bad are making it cool. Ok, I really like the show, but being an adult with a background in Psychology, I deconstruct it differently. Anyway, I don’t think I could cover my shock so well. I grew up in rural Manitoba – drugs were barely an issue there and if anything it was MJ. Now, alcohol…that’s a different issue!

    Thanks for linking into the Kid Lit Blog Hop Randy!

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