Saturday, March 12, 2016

Day 12 SOL 12: Opting Out

Sometimes you hear or see something that takes you back to a memory long since forgotten.  That very thing happened today as I listened to Chris Lehman at Literacy Connection.  Chris was trying to show us how to compare texts through a similar lens.  He had decided to use text that had some political undertone.  He explained this to us and then added, "You are welcome to opt out."  Reminding us that students too should have the option to opt out of controversial or uncomfortable topics.

As an eighth grader, I would have appreciated the opportunity to opt out.  Growing up my mom kept us sheltered from violence.  We didn't watch violence on television.  My brother didn't own toy guns. We were taught to solve problems with words, not fists.  I always joke that my first PG movie was Starwars...and that I was twelve.  I was a bit sheltered in comparison to many of my peers, but I always felt better off for it.  Of course, as a result I had very little tolerance for unkind behaviors and violence.

In eighth grade my teacher decided we should watch The Lottery.  First let me say, that I had much respect for my teacher.  He was amazing.  He made learning fun and interesting.  He got the quirkiness of our age group, and worked to make learning interesting.  There was no taking it easy in his classroom either.  He held high expectations of each us, and we worked to achieve in his classroom.  When he decided we were watching The Lottery, I knew I had a problem.

The Lottery was about a woman who was stoned by her community.  To be honest, I remember nothing about his purpose or teaching point in showing this movie.  I only remember that as the community moved toward choosing the person who would be stoned my heart was heavy.  I couldn't tolerate that people could be so cruel and wanted to leave the room, but I was thirteen and powerless.    When the stoning began I really wanted to run.  I would have given anything to leave the room.  At that time, advocating for yourself really wasn't an option, or at least I didn't feel it was an option for me.

Chris's story today took me back to that moment.  It was a reminder that students should have some say in opting out.  Students should have some control in the texts they read and the media they are asked to view.  I'm sure my teacher had no idea how much I wanted to run that day.  Maybe he should have asked us.

For the month of March I will be participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge hosted at Two Writing Teachers.  It will be a busy month of writing, commenting, and learning with this community.  Stop by today's link up to join the conversation or find some great reading.


  1. I so agree! They should have a say in opting out.

    PS I would have wanted to run too!

  2. Interesting heart was breaking for you, that 13 year old, sitting there with no voice! You have given me something to think about! So glad you had that experience with Chris Lehman today!

  3. What a great point, and a wonderful argument for choice in the classroom. But in those times when you need to look at a text together for a mini-lesson, opting out seems like a great concept.
    On another note, the learning out of Chris Lehman's session yesterday sounded wonderful. I'm both sorry I missed it, and glad I gave myself the option to "opt out" to recharge. ;)

  4. Cathy I also remembered a time when I could "opt out" in education but mine was in college. When we are able to connect with our own learning moments I think we become stronger teachers as well as parents. I had a great time yesterday with our car PD always a fun time.

  5. You bring up some very interesting points. I wonder what that would look like for younger students. Would it be necessary at the young age of our students where we already are very careful about sensitive content because of their age? Or is it really only something that would be an issue starting in the intermediate level where the parameters of their ability to handle something is more of a consideration along with what we are allowed to or should be exposing them them to. Always making me think!

  6. My heart broke for you when I read this. Did we talk about it?? I am appalled that you had to sit through that. I know it was devastating. I still believe in non-violence today as much as I did then, but sometimes I worried that I stressed that too much to you and your brothers..


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