Turns out marijuana NOT a good example ....

I’m a librarian at a large state school. I teach college students how to use the library & to evaluate information. Sometimes local high schools ask me for tours and workshops, and I willingly arrange these activities. I figure if the high school students live around here, they should know how to use our library.

So, yesterday, I arranged a whole morning of computer lab workshop and tours for a group of about 40 high school juniors and seniors from a local Catholic school. I gave the first workshop, one of my grad assistants gave the second, and I had two other grad assistants doing the actual physical tours.

When we do workshops that teach people how to search article databases, we usually use the topic of marijuana, among others. We show the students how to take that large topic, look at it in a scholarly way, and narrow the idea until you get from 3,000 articles to a more manageable, better defined group of articles.

I must admit, part of the reason I use this particular example is that it gets the students’ attention immediately. A second reason is that there are a lot of anti-drug commercials and programs out there, and I think it’d be nice if students were given the chance to investigate the issues on their own if they wanted to. And finally, its shows the students that they can take this pseudo-funny idea, and look at it in a mature, scholarly way.

Well, as it turns out, the HS I did the tour for yesterday didn’t appreciate this example. The teacher told one of my grad assistants (I’ve yet to hear this directly) that these, “are impressionable young children and they should not be exposed to information on marijuana!”


The information on marijuana she’s talking about included an article on the economics of the marijuana indrustry published in The Economist. Yes, there was short one by NORML, too. But there wasn’t anything like, “Gee kids, here’s how you get your weed! And here’s how you smoke it! And here’s how you keep it a secret from your school & your parents! And here’s why it’s good for you!”

Anyway, this is enough to make me never want to another high school tour. I will, of course, because I think they’re valuable for the students and good PR for the University. But jeesh!

Are these students supposed to be sheltered from everything until they’re plunked down in a dorm room in some Midwestern college or university and left on their own for the first time! I don’t get this at all.

Its not like they’re little 7th and 8th graders, these are high school students. I’d be amazed if they learned anything unrelated to education on the drug issues, such as anything that they could use to their advantage in obtaining, using or distributing marijuana.

Besides, try to get a high schooler to pay attention to a search on articles on the biography of George Washington. Good luck.
You kept their attention, showed them how to use your reference area, and maybe even showed them some unbiased facts about marijuana.

If anything you helped them.

Kitty - I’m for medical marijuana and even for decriminalization, but I’m afraid I see her point. It probably isn’t a good example. In the kids eyes, you are an “authority” figure and by throwing the word out to them (without qualification), you are giving sort of an unspoken validation to it.

I am sure you chose that word so that it wouldn’t be so boring for them, and had no hidden agenda, but you’re probably wise to chose another. Maybe “rock and roll”? Of course, some fundamentalists would even have a problem with that!

Comming from the product of Catholic High School…


When it comes to things like drugs and sex, schools get very icky about the subject. Sure, they want to teach kids not to do these things, but they don’t like to talk about them because they fear that any mention of the subject asside from “Drugs Bad!” will encourage kids to experiment. I never went through it, but supposedly, the D.A.R.E. program was the best place to find out how to score drugs and how to use them. Maybe that’s why I’m so dull.

Maybe things will be different with your public school students. Also, it all depends on where you live. I started getting sex ed in fourth grade while living in New York and attending a public school. I pretty much had a class about it a year, but the majority of them were simple mechanics. Same with most discussions about drug use. The only classes where it helped were those where the more “rebellious” teachers openned up their own personal experiences and actually taught us the important aspects of the subject (i.e. the social and psychological aspects of them, as well as the personal and physical).

Unfortunately, those teachers are few and far between.

Plus, many people uphold the thought that these types of things should be left up to parental discussion. Of course, many parents feel it’s the job of the schools to teach kids these things, so there are a lot of uneducated people out there.

I like what you’re doing, and I say keep at it. If the complaints keep coming in, perhaps you’ll need to send out a little disclaimer beforehand, or meet with people in advanced. But, overall, I think it’s a nifty idea, and I don’t think you should let one close minded individual ruin a good thing.

Unspoken validation to what? The existence of marijuana? I expect they already know it exists.

I think you should continue to do things the way you have and if the schools in question prefer to keep their students bored and uninformed rather than run the risk they might take those research skills and actually (heavens, no!) learn something or, even worse, form an original thought or opinion, that’s their problem.

Elvis, was that really necessary?

Yes, Elvis’ post was really necessary. Had he not made it I was going to post something similar. The idea that high school students have never heard the word “marijuana” is laughable. The idea that a student is going to decide to smoke pot based on a college librarian’s showing them articles in the Economist is beneath contempt. I too see the teacher’s point. It’s right at the top of her head.

Keep using “marijuana” as an example. If another teacher objects, look her blandly in the eye and say “I appreciate your concern, and in future I shall use as my example ‘prostitution’.”

Or you could use the Inquisition…

Yes. All children need to be protected from the ugly, mean, real world until they’re at least 35 years old. They also need to be protected from ever getting a bump, bruise, scrape, or, god forbid, cut. Starting June 1st, they’re all going to be swaddled in cotton batting and hermetically sealed in large mayonaise jars until the world is a nicer place. :rolleyes:

BTW, love the username. You should make an appearance in “The Doper Zoo”.

What a contrast to my high school years. One teacher who taught a debating and philosophy class had us debate the merits vs. drawbacks of decriminalizing marijuana. We had to do research on the drug, health effects, and so forth, and do pro vs. con debates in class.

I find it really hard to believe that it was not obvious that the unspoken validation was for its USE. But, I will spell it out, if it really IS necessary.

I can see in this context (where the goal is not drug education), if an adult mentions marijuana without qualifying it in some way (i.e. the abuse of, the effects of, etc.) kids can get the idea that the person saying it is in favor of it. They think “why else did they pick that?”

I believe the advice given here, to continue using marijuana as a topic, could lead to problems for Kitty. Things very easily get blown out of proportion, especially with 16 year old kids. Quite easily, one of the kids could tell their parents that the librarian was telling them “all about marijuana”, leaving out totally in what context it was discussed. This could very well cause problems for the administration (impacting directly on Kitty).

This is really not about teaching these kids about drugs. This is about teaching them how to use the library. There are many topics that could be used to accomplish the same goal, without stirring up a hornet’s nest for the administration.

Elvis was right.

The idea of “unspoken validation” here is totally unfounded.
Acknowledging something exists is not the same as condoning it.

In my kid’s (Canadian) Catholic grade school, kids in Grade 6 take a course called “Values, Peers & Influences.”

This course covers every recreational drug known to man: What it is, how it’s ingested, what the effects are, what it typically looks like, all the street lingo. At the basic level, the idea is let the kids know the dangers before they reach the age group at which they typically start coming into street contact with the stuff. My kids know more about it than I do now and I was anything but sheltered growing up.

Obviously, the separate school board’s curriculum varies from district to district, never mind country to country. It still seems ridiculously PC and hypocritical to me, however, that the school would have any kind of problem with your choice of topics. Could it have been just the one teacher who had the problem?

If my kids weren’t stupid enough in Grade 6 to think that they were being encouraged to use drugs by the “Values, etc” course, it seems fairly likely that high school kids would be able to make that distinction in a library orientation workshop for Pete’s sake.

I give up. :slight_smile:

Interpret what I said however you like. Circular arguments are not my thing.

Stellar7, please don’t take offense, but I find your argument silly. If I say “murder”, do you believe I condone its use?

Mariachi Kitty, I was right with everyone else in feeling that you shouldn’t have qualms proceeding as you have been. However, this one sentence concerns me:

This sentence suggests your motives were at least a bit political.

So, my only thought is that if you do continue to use “marijuana” as an example research topic, and someone questions it, stick with your first answer.

Cowboy - I didn’t take offense. :slight_smile:

And, I realize that we all don’t think alike. I can live with that.

Let me explain this way. If I were in a group that had absolutely nothing to do with drug education and the leader spontaneously brought up the topic of marijuana (with no negative qualifiers), I would assume that they were in favor of it. They may, or may not be. But, the thought would definitely cross my mind. Perhaps I’m the only person in the entire world who would think this way, but that’s ok. :slight_smile:

Everyone sees things from their own perspective. Since this thought would occur to me, I naturally assume it would also occur to kids. Maybe, maybe not. But, I think it’s worth mentioning.

I think your analogy to murder is a little off as murder is universally unacceptable, but marijuana, is not.

It’s really ok if you think my rationale is silly. It isn’t to me, but like I said, we all think differently. :slight_smile:

Gawd help 'em if they’re plunked down in Bloomington, IN.

I think this is a very valid argument for why the administration might take a dim view of using marijuana as the subject of a search. Not that such a reaction is at all reasonable, but these are public schools, the same ones that require parental permission before they can tell us how our bodies work. It only takes one tightass parent to make some serious headaches for the school.

I don’t know that this should necessarily prompt a change in your presentations, Mariachi Kitty, but I don’t think that the school is really trying to keep their students ignorant; certain parents are trying to keep their children ignorant, and it spills over to others in this case.

Thank you. :slight_smile:

I personally think trying to “shield” high school kids from marijuana is idiotic, and that people who equate a value-neutral mention of the subject with endorsement are stupid.

However, there are many, many stupid people in the world, and in one of life’s rich ironies they are usually the ones who know how to make the most trouble for other people. If I were a librarian, I would hesitate before doing something like this. Not because I think there’s anything wrong with it, but because there are lots of other people who do (again, stupidly) think there’s something wrong with it, and who would happily screw with my job out of their own super-inflated self-righteousness.

I’d probably use something else. Like “pedophilia.” :wink: