This unit is designed for use with seventh or eighth grade students. I chose this age group because the students are entering the most crucial stage of their life—adolescence.
Because we will be studying family problems and preparing the students to examine family roles, the family to be studied should be the student’s own family. This will be a very personal process. Teachers will find that students are usually hesitant to discuss their personal problems in front of classmates for fear of ridicule. A practical solution to this problem is that the students be allowed to write out their questions and thoughts about a particular topic on a piece of paper and hand it in unsigned. This will allow the students to share their feelings and emotions with one another, yet still remain anonymous. This strategy focuses on what is important to the students in their difficult role as a family member.
The first lesson is designed to stimulate the students to think about what a “family” is, and then write these feelings down on a piece of paper. Since music has a universal language that appeals to the emotions of all, I will use contemporary songs about the family and related matters as a positive way to introduce the unit and arouse student interest.
One song we will pay special attention to is
That’s The Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be
, sung by Carly Simon. This song expresses the composer’s doubts about entering into marriage.
Teachers can also take advantage of television programs. Many are based on family matters and show interaction between family members, especially soap operas. Discussions of these programs are an excellent way to initiate a lesson.
Other lessons can be centered around current newspaper and magazine articles.