Thursday, May 26, 2005

Notes By A Random Kid

I was sitting at the kitchen table, goofing around at the laptop, when I came across some kid's blog, it's called Because I choose to" (motto: "I don't know, anything I want. If the pictures don't load, hit refresh.") He seems to be a regular kid. And he's blogging about his health class.

This one kid, this one class, is probably pretty unexceptional. But that's what makes it interesting. Here's how a regular kid is seeing his health class. I've formatted the text a little to make it easier to read -- this was one long paragraph:
Health Stuff (pt 2)
This is part two of my ongoing coverage of our health class. We saw some nasty slides today, but I don't know why people can't just be mature and deal with it. It's just a bunch of diseased body parts. Big deal. Our speaker from MAP really screwed up a lot today. First, she made us suck on a Jolly Rancher and then wrap it up and put it into a paper bag. At the end of class, she asked us to pick one and eat it. That was supposed to represent having sex. There are two problems with that. One, who chooses their partners randomly? And two, if spit was an STD, there should have been another 90 or so clean Jolly Ranchers because of the 1/4 statistic. She uses that number to try and frighten us and ignores it when it suits her.

The slideshow wasn't all pictures. She gave us some more statistics too. All of them were from 1998 or before. And because her data was out of date, she got to revise it. So she could have been making it up! I've seen several studies that show that the rate of STDs has gone DOWN. She always revised the data up.

She also did what I said I hate in the last blog: she said that if you had four friends who where sexually active, then one of them would have an STD. No, sorry, you lose. That is a broad statistic. In Cincinnati it might be 1/10 or even 1/2. And just because the statistic is 1/4 doesn't mean that if you test four people, one will have it. It means that if you test 100000 people, about 25000 will have it. Statistics are not accurate at those small numbers.

She told us that STDs don't discriminate. Once again, she's wrong. Let's create a hypothetical study. If you assume that everybody in the study has access to the same quality of healthcare and has sex with one person with a specific STD, then they won't ALL get the STD. Different people have natural immunities or even just stronger immune systems. And the world isn't a laboratory. People DON'T have access to the same healthcare. People have sex with different numbers of people depending on their socioeconomic background.

Also, she told us that if your urethra was blocked (by a STD), you wouldn't be able to urinate and you would die. Well, nope, you lose again. According to Scott's mother, total urethra blockage is almost unheard of. And even if it did happen, your body has ways of getting around barriers. First it would try to dissolve the barrier and then, if that failed, it would widen the urethra until urine could flow. It would be very painful, but you wouldn't die.

Finally, she told us that a cold sore could become a STD. Sure. Right. Whatever you say. I'm not even going to argue on this one.

And then there were things that she said that were just dumb. For one, she said, "Remember guys, if you want to have a healthy pregnancy later, think about what you do today." Sorry, but I DON'T WANT TO HAVE A HEALTHY PREGNANCY! And then she told us that if we choose abstinence as a life style, we won't have financial or emotional problems. We also won't have to worry about our goals. Well, sorry again, but WRONG!

Okay, whatever, I probably left something important out, so comment.

PS: Scott and I talked about this on AIM and he helped my come up with a lot of this. Health Stuff Part 2
Do you see what happens when you try to BS a kid? The grown-ups can come up with any kind of scary "facts" and pictures and exercises but a smart kid is going to see through it. The guy who wrote this understands the fundamentals of statistics and probabilities -- well, he should, they teach that in high-school, too. So when you try to baffle him, he sees the trick, he knows you're going to reach up your sleeve and he's watching, and he sees you do it.

He also realizes that Scott's mom is a better expert than some schoolteacher trying to con him into being a good boy, in other words, he's able to prioritize the sources of information, and chooses to believe information from the better source. Worst of all for this teacher, he knows what he wants and has some idea what path you follow to get there. He's not interested in getting pregnant, no, that's clear. He also perfectly well understands that abstinence has nothing whatsoever to do with financial and emotional problems in the future.

What if this teacher had thrown in a nugget of truth? The question is whether a kid like this, a smart kid, would discount the true statement because it was buried in the bull-oney, or would he recognize that one gleaming diamond in the mud?

I'm afraid that if you start lying to teenagers they probably won't believe anything you say. This does not appear to me to be a good educational strategy.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The comments at the random kid's blog continue on the theme of cutting through the bull-oney presented.

Here the kid discusses the teacher's emphasis vs. facts presented about STD's in his health class::

"the whole 20+ STDs today idea is completely bogus...

here's the facts shes been telling us:
1960: 2 MAJOR (i capitalized major its very [DELETED] important) STDs: syphillis, and ghonorrhea

2005: 25+ STDs...

notice anything missing from the second 1? Because i seem to see something... (if you dont look up at the capitalized word that i pointed out)

according to what she's been teaching there are 6 major STDs today... not 25+ like shes trying to misrepresent it... (the 6 are: clamydia, warts [GVR?], AIDs, herpes, ghonnorhea, syphillis)

still an increase but not that huge BS one..."

Kids are so much smarter than the prudes give them credit for. Amen!

Joyful Noise

May 27, 2005 8:20 AM  
Blogger Eric said...

It's pretty awesome to read about yourself being written about.

August 19, 2005 9:41 PM  

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