Saturday, August 23, 2008

"You're in the money..."

I learned about anticipatory sets in education school a few years back.

Whet the appetite, get them engaged, open their minds--a shame we even need to do that, but under the circumstances (compulsory education gets them in your class, not your charm and wit), necessary.

At some point I want my kids to know how to read labels on products.

I open class by asking if anyone's heard of ball players urinating on their hands.
Ooooh...that's gross

One or two students will get real quiet, maybe even blush. Apparently some high school baseball players still do. If it's good enough for Jorge Posada and Moises Alou....

I never, ever directly question anyone about the practice, but I've had kids volunteer in class that it's done.

Once they settle down, I ask the class what's in urine. With a little guidance, they quickly get to urea.

I then ask everyone to pull out any skin products they have, an amazing thing to watch. A single child may have a half dozen tubes of age-defying elixirs.

"OK, everybody, start looking for the word 'urea' in your products."

Oh, [insert bad word], I've been slathering piss on my face!

Not sure the kids hear anything else before the lesson's done, but I do (eventually) explain that most commercial urea is manufactured in factories, not people.

Still, if a child has eczema, a quick wipe with a wet cloth diaper can help.
Urine contains the emollient substance urea, and int he past builders and particularly bricklayers would wash their hands in urine to prevent the occupational dermatitis associated with handling bricks and mortar. Similarly, mothers at one time would wipe their babies with their urine-soaked nappies as it was believed that this was good for the complexion.

from Blurtit site--I didn't say it was scientific

Of course, few students even know diapers were ever cloth, so I push it.

"It wouldn't surprise me if my Irish grandmother used it my mom's face."
Yuk, that's gross!

The bell rings, I dismiss the class (not simultaneous events). As the kids stroll out, I hear the occasional thump of very expensive urea being tossed in the garbage.

Some kids looks at labels now, and, in a small way, a few get a tiny bit more connected to the universe.

(I once put an article about the the discovery of phosphorus on a bulletin board--about two months after I did, someone actually read it..Hey, this is about piss!)


Betty said...

Oh, no! Now I have to check out my skincare products. I do learn something new every day.

doyle said...

Urea works well on skin--really!

The manufactured stuff is a bit more pricey, though.

nancym said...

You are so right. You have just got to grab the students. I try to think of something almost everyday. I teach 5th grade science and the power, of shocking, disgusting, or surprising them is priceless. I also find breaking into song at the mention of a keyword, a line from an advertisement or movie or even a litlle spontaneius spiritual dance really gets them! I don't use spell check very often. I consider myself a holy/holey blue jeans style of blogger, responder so NSCU.(No spell check used!)

doyle said...

I keep hoping that I'll reach a point where the material grabs them, and for a few, it does.

In the meantime, I often practice Shock & Schlock Edumacation--I want to grab their attention long enough to show them a piece of the world larger than the classroom.

Do you ever get complaints from parents?