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The Straight Story Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-26-06 06:14 PM
Original message
Student Assignment: Write your own Obituary
Should students write obituaries for themselves?

BY LISA SCHENCKER, Californian staff writer
e-mail: lschencker@bakersfield.com | Wednesday, Oct 25 2006 10:25 PM

Last Updated: Wednesday, Oct 25 2006 10:29 PM

Natalie Chamblee doesn't want her 13-year-old stepdaughter thinking about death.

So she was shocked when she described her latest class assignment: writing her own obituary.

"They're making them think about stuff they shouldn't be thinking about at 13 years old," Chamblee said.

Meanwhile, the principal of the eighth-grader's school, Buttonwillow Elementary, said the assignment wasn't about death. Principal Penny Madrid said the assignment was intended to help students set goals for their lives and write creatively.

It's an assignment teachers nationwide have been handing out for years.

http://www.bakersfield.com/619/story/80842.html
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WindRavenX Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-26-06 06:15 PM
Response to Original message
1. they're old enough for the assignment
Sometimes thinking and learning involves thinking about not-so pleasent things--like death.
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WI_DEM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-26-06 06:16 PM
Response to Original message
2. frankly that is kind of dumb
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cautiouslywaiting Donating Member (243 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-26-06 06:16 PM
Response to Original message
3. Wow.
It sounds kinda creepy to me. I get what they were trying to do but it just sounds creepy.
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proud2BlibKansan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-26-06 06:18 PM
Response to Reply #3
6. It's a very common assignment
I did it in high school a loooong time ago and I think a lot of teachers still give this assignment.
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cautiouslywaiting Donating Member (243 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-26-06 06:23 PM
Response to Reply #6
12. Really?
I never did.
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proud2BlibKansan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-26-06 06:28 PM
Response to Reply #12
14. I went to an excellent high school
:)
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cautiouslywaiting Donating Member (243 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-26-06 06:29 PM
Response to Reply #14
16. Lol
Clearly you did. You're here :)
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proud2BlibKansan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-26-06 06:16 PM
Response to Original message
4. I am about over these idiot parents
who think they know more about kids than teachers do.
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knitter4democracy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-26-06 06:17 PM
Response to Original message
5. It's an interesting assignment.
Kids usually like it, actually. Some of them get really carried away, but most seriously think about all they want to accomplish in life. That's the point--not how they died. Most obits don't say how the person died anyway.
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Lefty48197 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-26-06 06:19 PM
Response to Original message
7. From the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Actually I think this is a good idea. Thinking about how you want people to remember you is a recipe for self discipline.
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The Straight Story Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-26-06 06:32 PM
Response to Reply #7
18. Not sure I agree with that wholly
One needs to be careful in certain matters with the psyche of young people, especially those who may well be depressed or bordering on it already. Teen suicide rates are just nuts, and outside of suicide there are a plethora of problems from which I see such an exercise as making worse.

That is not to say said topics are fully taboo, but younger kids I don't personally feel (from my own experience) should be focusing on the end of their life and figuring out ways to live it so that others approve of it. A better assignment, imho, might be something along the lines of 'when you're 50, how do you want to look back and see your life?'

I would not have been ready for such things at that age, though by 16 I probably would have grok'd it better.

I can see the worth of such an exercise to some extent, but young kids just hitting puberty and already emotionally all over the board may not be the best suited.
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proud2BlibKansan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-26-06 06:37 PM
Response to Reply #18
21. When we had to do this in high school,
we had to imagine we lived to be whatever the national average was at that time. I think 70? Anyway, we had to write about what we had done in our life, what our accomplishments were.

If it is presented in this way, it doesn't seem like it would encourage teen suicide. I do know that none of my classmates killed themselves over this.
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The Straight Story Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-26-06 06:43 PM
Response to Reply #21
22. I would agree with you on that, a pretty decent approach really (nt)
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Gormy Cuss Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-26-06 06:20 PM
Response to Original message
8. It all depends on how the teacher presented it.
As long as the kids understand the purpose of the task, I think it's a great assignment for kids that age.
I'm not registering to read the whole article so pardon me if it's mentioned but I wonder if the child has dealt with a lot of death in her young life and that's why the stepmother is being overprotective.
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RevCheesehead Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-26-06 06:20 PM
Response to Original message
9. 13 year olds shouldn't be thinking about death??
Hmmmm... sex without consequences, drugs without risk, drinking and driving invincibility....

Sounds like Mom could benefit from doing the same assignment.

BTW, I was confronted with death when I was six, when my grandma died. And yes, of course we went to the funeral.
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proud2BlibKansan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-26-06 06:33 PM
Response to Reply #9
20. My idiot repuke bro in law
pitched a fit about my niece and nephew (his kids) going to my mom's funeral this week. They are 9 and 11. He thought it was 'inappropriate' for them to go to the funeral or the wake.

He must have changed his mind because they were there at both.

My other sisters and I were just stunned that he was so determined to keep his kids from going.
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RevCheesehead Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-26-06 06:46 PM
Response to Reply #20
24. Yeah, it speaks volumes about what HIS fears are.
And for you: ((( :hug: )))
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proud2BlibKansan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-26-06 07:00 PM
Response to Reply #24
26. Thanks Rev
I had a hard day and that hug really hits the spot.
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SmokingJacket Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-26-06 06:21 PM
Response to Original message
10. There are better assignments, frankly.
An obituary is just a list of accomplishments and facts. It doesn't require any kind of development or argument, and actually really restricts creativity. Plus, what 13-yr-old needs to be encouraged to be MORE morbid?

I've been an elementary school teacher, college professor, and parent. Sometimes parents *do* know more than teachers. Sometimes teachers know more.
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unblock Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-26-06 06:28 PM
Response to Reply #10
15. but is it really so bad that you'd complain about it as a parent?
oy, if my parents complained about every stupid assignment i ever got....
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SmokingJacket Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-26-06 06:33 PM
Response to Reply #15
19. Probably not. I don't like to interfere in what my kids' teachers do.
That said, if it were one in a long line of bad assigments, maybe I'd try to get the kid into a better class or school.
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alcibiades_mystery Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-26-06 06:31 PM
Response to Reply #10
17. Actually, that's not the case at all
Edited on Thu Oct-26-06 06:34 PM by alcibiades_mystery
An obituary requires a specific type of argument called epideictic, which was developed in great detail by classical rhetoricians. It is a form of encomium - an argument of tribute - but for someone who has died. One of the foremost public intellectuals of the last century - Jacques Derrida - spent his last few years writing beautiful "obituaries" for his friends and interlocutors who had passed away (He was rewarded with an outrageous, nasty obituary for himself on the front page of the New York Times at his own passing.). Derrida's "obituary" for Emmanual Levinas (Adieu) is really a thing of beauty, and his obituary for Gilles Deleuze (Now I Must Wander All Alone) is a modern classic of the form.

The parent is looking at it the wrong way. You're not asking them to imagine their deaths, but their lives. And that's where the creativity comes in.
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Deja Q Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-26-06 06:23 PM
Response to Original message
11. Natalie should pull that big stick out of her butt.
Anything can happen to anyone at any time.

Our generation (X, maybe Y) was raised to believe in a future. We're seeing the opposite happening. And we don't want to let go. (despite Mr Hooper's death being played out on Sesame Street, we all loved him...)

It's a good thing to teach children of mortality.

Indeed, in a society where people think Curt Kobain is better than Elvis, we're royally screwed up...

I wish I had that assignment in 8th grade.
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MazeRat7 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-26-06 06:44 PM
Response to Reply #11
23. I'm glad somebody said it.... thanks for saving me the ink. (n/t)
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pooja Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-26-06 06:27 PM
Response to Original message
13. Its not bad to think about goals you set and where you see yourself.
It is a common exercise handed out by teachers. I think students usually like this asignment because they can over-inflate attributes and how they would like to be remembered. I'm not so sure I would do this for a 13yr old. Perhaps junior or senior year would be better.

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SoCalDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-26-06 06:49 PM
Response to Original message
25. My high school english teacher had us write a front page news article
Edited on Thu Oct-26-06 06:50 PM by SoCalDem
about other students in the class.. What fun that was..

She had us all put our names on slips of paper and draw a name (couldn't draw your own)..

No one was allowed to use the actual name, but we had to guess who wthe articles were about after we all read our article :evilgrin:

before people get all defensive.. Everyone was fair and no one was trashed :)
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