The System 1, Ms. C's Students 0
Student M is 16 and just started his first job. He’s ED like the rest of my crew, but is relatively calm and shows effort in his schoolwork. M has the highest reading and math levels in my class and I’m really lobbying to get him moved into inclusion next September. M is the only student in my class who has never been disrespectful towards me, even when I am at my most demanding (or oblivious) as a teacher.
This week M brought in some photos to “show and tell.” Sonogram images. Four months old. My head was reeling, all I could think was that my student convieved while I was his teacher…why didn’t I tell him to be safe? Hell, why didn’t I discretely give him condoms? Why am I teaching freakin’ Ancient Greece BS when this kid’s life is going to revolve around providing for this child? Why didn’t I (or anyone!) teach this kid about not getting a girl pregnant? Oh wait…I remember now: Staff of my school was told to “emphasize abstinence” and only two people in the school were authorized to give out condoms, and only from 8:00-8:50AM or after school.
Teenagers have sex. Fact of life. Students with emotional disturbances have sex too, if not more sex, more often, with more people. I see it in my classroom, I see the students carrying photos of their babies, it’s not a secret. Why?! Why are we teaching abstinence to fragile students who are getting crazy like rabbits in the stairwell? Who does this serve? M is a bright student, M should be allowed to be 16, not worry about being a father next October. I had to leave the room when he told me.
“How do you feel about, M,” I asked.
He cast his eyes downward briefly, and he responded with a heartfelt “ I dunno.”
“Are you scared?” I inquired, never expecting him to answer.
“A little,” M said. And he collected his pictures and went to show someone else, conversation over. We haven’t spoken of it since, but it haunts my thoughts whenever I look at the boy. I can’t help him. What can I do?