My friend Gretchen and I have been sharing a lot of stories lately related to our new positions as grade school English teachers. So far, it's been pretty great as the teachers and staff are all very helpful and make a point to tell us if there is anything we need, just ask. It makes the task of teaching for the first time less daunting to be sure.
As I was discussing the curriculum with Gretchen she mentioned that the first story her 5th grade students were reading was about nuclear bombs and death. Naturally, I was curious and got ahold of the story. Before I even started to read the story, I saw what she was talking about. The title is Nuclear Disaster! and the middle of the pages displays a prominent orange and yellow photo of the nuclear mushroom bomb. No joke.
As I was reading the story, several phrases jumped out at me, for example: my father looked sick. Mainly he was beginning to be sick, but mainly I think he was distressed. Bodies, just dead bodies, they're all dead. The Johnsons, the Peters' - they were all in there, all dead. There were dead birds in the streets. Not exactly a cheery story for the students to be reading, much less during the first week of school. I can picture the first day of class...."Welcome to English students, I think we will all have an enjoyable and educational time reading about death and nuclear bombs."
In the corresponding grammar sections I found the following sentences. There is always a risk of nuclear war if countries keep nuclear weapons. There are some countries, including Britain, that still have nuclear bombs. Steve emerged from the cellar to find destruction everywhere.
No wonder people from other parts of the world often know more about world affairs and wonder why we cringe at the sight of violence on the news; they are exposed to these things in grade school!