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6th Grade Reading List: Teen Pregnancy, Rape, and Gangs

Reading survey sent home to some Florida 6th graders attending the acclaimed Ben Hill Middle School (do not miss the scrolling double headers (because one scrolling header is never enough)) included this fabulously pertinent question:

List the subjects you would like to read about. (teen pregnancy, rape, gangs, etc.)

6th Grade Reading List


  1. It was an “outdated” survey.
  2. The survey was not approved for younger students.


  1. When was this question “in-dated”?
  2. Given all the possible subjects available on earth, when would those three topics ever be the three down-selected to make the suggested reading interests for school students?
  3. Who sends home a survey they randomly grab out of an old file drawer?
  4. What is wrong with these people?


[Source: Bay News 9]

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Kerry Smith August 26, 2014, 12:09 pm

    As a mother of a new sixth grader, I can’t imagine why a teacher would ask that question on a class survey!!! My son is nervous about sixth grade as it is. Why introduce such morbid topics when there are so many great things to talk about. I thought my son’s writing teacher was off yesterday when she asked the class to write about what they would do if it was their last day to be alive. My poor, nervous son had to dwell on this sad topic on the first day of Junior High. Come on, Teachers! I love your profession and admire all you do. But please introduce our kids to positive, uplifting learning as much as you can.

  • Alison Moore Smith August 26, 2014, 4:22 pm

    Kerry, this particular survey seems to be an idiotic slip up. That said, I agree.

    One of my girls took a few classes in 7th grade. Her ENGLISH teacher (note, not history) required the class to read Night by Elie Wiesel. One night, while doing her homework, our daughter came to us and asked if she could, please not read the book.

    Sam and I took the book and we both read it. Was it an important memoir of the Holocaust? Absolutely! Did it accurately portray some of the horrific events of World War II? Yes! Is is the best literary work for language arts? No. Was it necessary for 13-year-old reading? NO!

    Wiesel couldn’t find a publisher for his work for some time — because it was thought to be too morbid. He looses his family in Auschwitz. He describes seeing others lynched and gassed. He contemplates suicide. It’s a dark, hopeless book about one of the most atrocious periods in modern history.

    We contacted the teacher and asked for an alternative assignment for her. After some grousing, it was granted. This dispensation, however, was followed within only a few days by the teacher showing the class video footage of emaciated tortured Jewish men, women, and children, of lines of people being led to the gas chamber, of piles of bodies bulldozed into trenches. When my daughter raised her hand and asked to be excused, the teacher refused. Because I suppose the films taught necessary grammatical construction…

    The next morning we pulled her out of class.

    To be clear, Night is part of a trilogy (Night, Dawn, and Day in which the author explores his transition from the depths of despair (“I wanted to show the end, the finality of the event. Everything came to an end – man, history, literature, religion, God. There was nothing left.”) to gradually rebuilding his life. Of course, the teacher didn’t intend to bring the children through that process. The shock value was enough for her purposes.

    All in the name of English.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Best Gifts: College Finals Survival KitsMy Profile

  • Natalie Willow August 27, 2014, 8:36 am

    What is your source for the story about this Middle School and its survey? I am interested in seeing the survey in its entirety, but am having a tough time finding it.

  • Alison Moore Smith August 27, 2014, 8:40 am

    Natalie, I’ve updated the story to reflect my source. When I googled relevant words I found it reported a number of other places as well.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Argumentum Ad Hominem – Logical FallacyMy Profile

  • Sandy August 27, 2014, 12:17 pm

    I’m sorry to quibble but… an idiotic mistake would be to send home a copy of spelling words or math problems (etc) instead of a reading survey. Deliberately typing the words “teen pregnancy, rape and gangs” is not a mistake and is never, at anytime, appropriate. Our teachers are not stupid. How stupid do they think parents are that saying it is a “mistake” would get them off the hook?

  • Alison Moore Smith August 27, 2014, 12:42 pm

    Sandy, if you read the post you will see that the school administrators said the survey sent home was “outdated,” implying that the teacher didn’t create it him/herself, just reused it. My questions below that ask what decent teacher takes someone else’s old survey and sends it home without carefully reading it.

    Now you can argue that they are lying and I won’t put up an argument. It won’t be the first time. But it’s plausible that the original creator was a psycho teacher and the one who sent it home merely incompetent.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Tangy Tasty Greek Salad DressingMy Profile

  • Libby November 10, 2014, 1:09 pm

    Alison Moore Smith:
    I was in grade 5 when my teacher showed us the photos he took of a concentration camp in West Germany (it was 1968). It was very moving and not scaring at all. But then, he didn’t show us people starving and all those vacant eyes I saw years later…after I graduated from high school.

    When my daughter was in grade 6 (elementary school here in Alberta), the scholastic book sale came to the school (with real books, not the order form) and with guidance from the librarian we vetted the books for sale. We were directed to REMOVE the ones that teacher was wondering if the kids were interested in reading! If they wanted to read about those topics, there was the public library (and now, the unprotected internet).
    It’s not easy being a parent now a days between incompetent teachers and the world trying to warp their minds in really bad ways.
    Hats off to you for advocating for the children.

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