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PRIMARY LESSON

This should be used with upper primary pupils as part of a wider scheme of work that looks at their feelings about themselves and others. Whilst it can be done in full class, it works better in smaller groups.
The exercise invites pupils to share with a teacher information that is normally kept firmly from her/him, therefore it may well be slow to start.

Trust takes time.

When running the lesson the teacher should address questions in the third person so that the pupils can hold the discussion without personal implication. This will change as the pupils feel more trusting so the teacher will need to be aware of the level of personal disclosure/accusation and intervene to alter it as deemed appropriate.

NAME CALLING
The pupils should be asked to sit silently and think of all the unpleasant names that they hear one pupil call another in the playground. They should be told that they should not mention who says them or to whom. After a few moments the teacher should ask them to repeat them and write them up on the board. This will provoke some embarrassment from the pupils as many of the words will be sexual or swear words. The teacher must remain matter of fact about the exercise. If no words are forthcoming, the teacher should begin:
"Well when I was on playground duty I heard one boy call another 'a poof'. I'm going to write that up. Now can you think of any more?"

Alternatively ask the pupils to complete the rhyme sticks and stones may break my bones. But names/words will never hurt me
Ask them if they think this is true.
Then ask them to give the teacher the words they hear or use that hurt.
As the words come out they should be written up without comment.

Once there are a fair number, the teacher should ask the group to think about why someone might call another one of these names. Whenever the group is posed a particular question, they should be given a few moments to consider it silently before discussing it. Again answers should be noted on the board.
Then pupils should be asked in the same way what it must feel like to be called those names. A discussion should follow about ways of stopping it happening.

A follow up, either a continuation or next session, depending on teacher's assessment of pupils' involvement, would be to look at each of the words and discuss their 'real' meaning and why that particular word is insulting. Issues of prejudice against groups and individuals should come up here.

At the end of the session strategies for dealing with name calling should be revisited, with pupils invited to write rules, produce posters etc. for school display.

This work should be referred back to if any such incident did occur, both with the whole group and the individual(s) concerned.
It might also be useful to do work on self esteem and self confidence and enable the students to explore assertiveness techniques.

Please note that these lessons raise issues that need planning and thought on the part of teacher and school to develop if they are to be properly useful. Children will express prejudice and fear and these must be supportively dealt with. There must also be support for vulnerable pupils and staff.