Letting Gore In the Classroom Door

Let’s get one thing clear right away, I’m not talking  about blood dripping gore! That is out of the question as far as I’m concerned!


(Epstein Family Photos)

My first reaction to Sharon Hartle’s recommendation to the lesson and slideshow about 10 inventors killed by their own inventions on The Lecturer’s EFL Smart Blog was: Wow, I have some 17/18 year old boys who would be interested in this. I can make an activity out of this slideshow.

But then I started thinking about how I would scaffold this for different levels. And for different pupils. I started thinking about how I would deal with vocabulary items such as gangrene and strangled. Although the person who wrote the titles for this slideshow was really careful with the language and did not go into gory details, I can see possible mine fields having to explain what is meant by “had five pieces of his anatomy removed”.

Am I being stereotypic in thinking that many teenage boys are interested in this kind of information while many girls are not?

When I was a student teacher I had to design and teach a lesson using the Jigsaw method we had just learned. I used a story with a scary ending called            The Yellow Ribbon . The version I had was in language even more simple than this, which suited my pupils. My thought that it would add some WOW factor to have a story with such an ending. The lesson took place in the mid 1980’s and I don’t remember any particular reaction of interest or revulsion from the pupils. However, I’ll never forget the horrified reaction of my teacher-trainer when I handed in the paper describing the lesson and the story itself!

How far would you go in bringing scary or gory stuff into a teenage classroom?

5 thoughts on “Letting Gore In the Classroom Door”

  1. My rule of thumb has always been: anything goes as long as it motivates kids to learn. That’s the beauty of teaching a language – you can choose any topic/content.
    Having said that – if the material is in any way offensive (frightening, unpleasant, touching on topics the learner would prefer not to deal with) – then obviously it would not be motivating. The problem is that every classroom is heterogeneous not only in its levels and learning styles but in their interests as well. Finally teachers (and teacher trainers) need to remember that what interests us may be totally absolutely boring to students and vice versa. I would like to believe that most teachers are attentive and know what goes with their students. Phew! Naomi, my dear, does that answer your question??? Thanks, for getting me going so early in the morning! HUGS

  2. Judy and Tyson!
    Sorry for the delay in replying!
    This post DOES tie in with your post Tyson! (http://fourc.ca/graphicnovels/)
    It actually worked for me thinking about the two of you together.
    Judy, what you said about the teacher being attentive to what can be brought to class is very true. Tyson adds the other aspect of it – teacher bringing into classes things the teacher likes. The way students will react to things is influenced by how passionate the teacher is about it. Tyson’s enjoyment of the medium of graphic novels is a necessary ingrediant to make it work.

  3. Naomi, Tyson – Absolutely! Passion is contagious and through our passion for a subject we engage our students (or vice versa …) I guess the challenge is to channel our passion in a way that resonates with the students’ interests and needs (some of which they are unaware simply due to lack of exposure).

  4. When you show passion and enthusiasm, the students have a better chance to as well. Doesn’t always work out — something lessons just don’t work out no matter what — but if I’m interested too, chances are it’ll be better.

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