Time To Teach Teenagers: Tough Tunes to Talk

Avril Lavigne

Tough tunes to teach, tough tunes to talk to teens about…

That’s what I call Avril Lavigne’s song, “Don’t Tell Me”.

A teen (15-year-old-girl) brought the song into my class, after being freely invited by me to “bring a song you like” to class.

We listened to the song in class, and after it finished, I didn’t address any of the deeper topics contained in the lyrics (virginity, pressure to have teen sexual relations, committment, responsibility, self-respect, friendship, trust, distrust, faith, hope, hopelessness, dreams, aspirations, loyalty, love, betrayal, honesty, dishonesty, etc.).

Why not?

Well, in my defense, it was only the second time I taught these three students. I didn’t “know” them well enough to enter into any of these sensitive subjects. I could have easily done more harm than good, and so I chose a different way out of the “dilemma”.

What did I do?

Well, first, as you already know from my previous post about teaching teens, what I did NOT do was talk about any of the topics related to the song.

What I did do was to choose a grammar focus, the negative imperative (Don’t do this, don’t do that, etc.) and then got the students to relate that to the last time they had actually said those words themselves.

So, I escaped from the situation, leaving it for another day, another time, another place, perhaps another teacher?

I am hoping that my students simply like the song, and not that they are presently dealing with the content of the song, and indirectly, appealed to me for the help, which I failed to give…

What would you have done, if you were me, in the situation as I described it to you above?

I look forward to reading your response to the question, a hypothetical one, taken from the real world experience of an actual teaching moment…

Best regards,

PS Here’s the song, and I like it….

About profesorbaker

Thomas Baker is the Past-President of TESOL Chile (2010-2011). He enjoys writing about a wide variety of topics. The source and inspiration for his writing comes from his family.
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