Things I Teach In School

One of my favorite things about teaching 11 classes is that I get to review so much information, and occasionally I learn something new. Here is a non-comprehensive sample of the variety of topics I have covered so far this year:

  • The nervous, circulatory, excretory, and respiratory systems
  • Dinosaur extinction
  • Evolution
  • Short stories by Flannery O’Connor, D. H. Lawrence, and several New Zealand others; and an adaptation of Sherlock Holmes
  • Birds and mammals
  • The ecosphere and ecosystems
  • Electricity
  • Pulleys, levers, gears, and other simple machines
  • Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol
  • Myers-Briggs Personality Types

Although every subject has its perks, my favorite subject to teach is science–a big surprise to this English major. Every week I am excited to learn about the new topic we will be covering. And then this week happened. And the next Natural Science topic for my 3rd level students is drugs.

I’ve always hated drug education. The drug education I received was dry, preachy, and black and white. We had a list of drugs and their classifications, and then another list of drugs and how they injure and kill you. Growing up, I bought into the black and white wholeheartedly. But because I vowed never to do drugs anyway, details about their effects seemed irrelevant.

These days, I understand drugs to be a large gray area, which is far more interesting! In part, this is because I have learned about neurotransmitters and hormones. What really catches my fancy, though, is the politics of drugs. (I know I’m not the only one. Look at the popularity of The Wire!)

Today, my Natural Science professor handed me a paper with a list of depressants and stimulants and their negative side effects, including the ever-dangerous “feeling of well-being”. My heart sank imagining the lessons from my childhood. I hadn’t had to teach something I didn’t care about yet, and I really didn’t want to start now.

This is a conflict with an anticlimactic solution. I told my professor that I’d like to present the effects of drugs using drug-related news and politics, and she said, “OK!”

So now I get to add one or more of the following topics to my list of subjects:

  • The effects of the cocaine industry
  • Artists of genius and drug use
  • Drawing the line between safe and dangerous drug use
  • Drawing the line between legal and illegal drugs

I think I will find some news articles about these topics, pass them around the class, and have the students debate them. I still have to work out the kinks of the lesson plan, and I should probably create a worksheet that will help them organize their thoughts, but I’m really excited to see what the students have to say!