One of the standards that we kept when The State revamped the middle school standards, was body systems. Our old book had very little on this subject so we were pretty tickled to see that the new book actually had a lot more information on the different systems.
And in some cases, too much information. Like the full color, gloriously accurate illustration of the male reproductive system. The book publisher, however, apparently realized that the pictures in the teacher edition (which is what we get to preview before during the Book Publishers Dog and Pony Show) were a bit too graphic. The student edition of the book has nothing but white space where the pictures (both male and female) used to be.
Now before everyone crawls all over me about how important reproductive knowledge is, and how we're censoring books and all that, please rest assured that we do teach this but in a less "graphic" way (and I might add that our standards don't even specify what body systems to teach, but rather that kids "understand how they are interrelated.") These kids have all gone through the birds and bees talks in lower grades, and in their health classes, although in each situation permission slips were sent home so parents could approve or disapprove. Quite honestly, I have no desire to teach the whole birds and bees thing with a bunch of immature seventh graders, especially considering that some of them may already know more than I do, while others are still playing with Barbies and are as naive as they come.
And I think parents should be teaching this to their children, rather than me, but I digress.
Today my kids were taking their social studies benchmark test and I'm keeping one eye on them (which is like watching paint dry) while I'm looking ahead to try to see what kind of materials we can use for our upcoming unit. Our workbook is wonderful, so I'm flipping through it when all of a sudden, I see The Picture. I'm sure my eyes just about popped out of my head, because that was the last thing I expected to see. They removed the picture from the textbook, but kept it in the workbook.
Mrs. Eagle and Mrs. Hummingbird came by for planning after the test and I showed them the page. They were astounded as well. Mrs. Hummingbird, who has seventh grader on my team was particularly astounded. "Oh gracious, there's no way I'd want my kid looking at that without permission."
"I can't believe they haven't found that," said Mrs. Eagle. "We would have heard the uproar and giggles if they had."
"Now what?" I asked. "Think we should show it to The Principal?"
"Oh yeah," said Mrs. Eagle. "She could use the giggle."
Suffice it to say, The Principal about fell out of her seat, and echoed Mrs. Hummingbird's opinion that she didn't want her daughter to see that picture, and Academic Coach (who has a seventh grade boy) said the same thing. Mrs. Sparrow, who is in charge of textbooks, and used to teach science, went white and said, "Oh good gracious, that would be highly uncomfortable to use in a classroom."
"Oh my word," said The Principal, "the kids would lose their minds if they saw that, and we'd have parents storming the office."
I think it was the parent response that had us the most concerned.
So, after the dance this afternoon, we spent a few minutes tearing this section out of the workbooks. Thank goodness that we keep workbooks in the classroom (if we let them leave the room they'd disappear in the black holes that are backpacks and lockers). It took all of fifteen minutes for us to get the pages torn out. They'll work well in my compost bin!