MORE CLASS QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
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To the question, "Have you ever come close to killing someone?" the following represent some of the more interesting responses: A student related how she was taking care of a friend's baby and left it on the counter in the kitchen for a short time. She heard a thud and returned to find that the baby had toppled to the floor. Fortunately the infant was not seriously hurt. Another kid was fooling around with her girlfriend during a trip to Japan. They were on a subway platform. Because of the pushing and shoving the girlfriend was thrust toward the incoming train. She hit the train just after the front of it passed. The impact with the side caused a dislocated shoulder and broken arm. Another girl was in a pool standing on a friend's shoulders who was submerged. The prearranged signal - a tap on the legs - was ignored so the kid was held underwater to the point of almost drowning. One boy was driving his date to the prom and because they were engaged in conservation, he drove through a barricade and down a one-way street toward the oncoming traffic. The date freaked out while the quickest 3-point turn in history took place. Two brothers were wrestling on a bed in a high-rise apartment. One brother was pushed and went out of the window. As the other brother ran from the room, the one hanging 14 stories above the ground caught himself by his legs on the window edge and was able to return to the room. One girl was a member of a 3-person buddy system during an elementary school recreation event. One of the swimmers of the group went underwater. The other 2 were to frightened to report it. The kid died and this left a deep-seated guilt complex in the girl. She did not realize that was an internal issue until she was asked to fill out the questionnaire in class!
Thomas Southern once wrote, "Sooner or later, all things pass away, and are no more. The beggar and the king with equal steps, tread forward to their end." When asked their thoughts on what they thought would happen to them after their death, the students answered with statements such as: They will go to Heaven, complete oblivion - nothingness, reincarnation of some sort, or they would leave behind something that could best be described as an ethereal spirit. Very few believed in Hell, and, except for the Satanists, none ever suggested that death was their final destination.
If a student harbors a big psychological problem who would they go to try to find a solution? When a list was presented the vote was usually: Father (1), Mother (6), Teacher (0), Counselor (0), Member of the Clergy (2), Friend (27), Professional (0), Sibling (10), Relative (2), God (7), Keep the problem to one's self (8).
Being in education I was quite concerned when, without exception, students indicated they would not turn to a teacher in time of psychological need. The reasons behind that varied: Some thought the teacher would hold it against them if they knew of the problem, or the teacher would not hold the information in confidence because of district and/or State policy. Others complained about teachers talking about kids to other teachers. Many kids didn't feel that close enough to teachers to confide in them. Many felt that teachers acted one way in class and another outside class. The feeling was that they really didn't care about the student, although in class they might appeared to the contrary.
I asked the students to describe the worst thing they had seen or heard of connected with death. Many examples are of sudden death involved a motor vehicle. People being hurled through the windshield, run over, or crushed left terrible memories in their minds. Vivid details such as blood being pumped out of a partly decapitated head were recalled. One mentioned seeing a dead person that had urinated and defecated when the sphincters relaxed after expiration. Another common comment was seeing a body in a casket that was not prepared well. There was the case where a student witnessed a friend that was drunk who laid down in the middle of railroad tracks thinking the train would pass harmlessly over. It didn't, and the carnage was gross! The loss of parents and grandparents to cancer, especially if there is a lot of pain and visible suffering as they die, was mentioned many times. All things taken into consideration, it seemed a class period or 2 that was devoted to allowing the kids to vent their death memories was very therapeutic!
The classes were asked to determine what the most crucial problems facing them were. Typical results: Going to war had no votes, suicide: 2, venereal diseases (herpes, AIDS, etc.): 4; becoming pregnant: 0; drugs, including alcohol: 26; parents: 3; death: 1; college: 14; and money: 26. Six of all the students in one class were not planning to go to college. Going to college was to a major change in their lifestyle. They feared the unknown. They were nervous about leaving old friends - lifetime friends - and having to make new. They were comfortable with their present life style, security and surroundings.
Another question resulted in some interesting answers. What film would you like to watch tonight? The results: War movie: 0; Comedy: 22; Intense drama: 8; X-rated Porno film: 2; Police or spy film: 0; Horror film: 13; Documentary: 5; Space film: 1; Light drama: 7; and Fantasy: 5. How many had not watched an X-rated film? In a class of 60 there were typically about 3 or 4! Similar results were found in a several non-death classes of freshmen!
How close did you come to dying? Skiing accidents, motor vehicle accidents, climbing accidents, and swimming accidents dominated the list. One girl was hanging off a highway bridge over a stream and instead of falling forward she fell backwards and landed incorrectly. The wind was knocked out of her and she almost drown. One girl, as a youngster, almost fell into a hot-water geyser in Iceland only to be saved at the last minute by her mother. One girl was riding in the back of a pickup truck up on a steep incline on a rocky road when the tailgate opened and she rolled partly out and onto the hood of a car that was following too closely. She was pulled back in by her friends.
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