Behind the Classroom Door; 18
The topic on this week's Behind the classroom door from northern Illinois University's College of Education is alcohol automobiles and smoking. Here is the moderator Robert F. top. O regularly we ask ourselves how far it is the responsibility of the school goal with regard to the teaching of such that matters is alcohol. The use of automobiles and smoking. We know that this is being done in the schools in a formal way occasionally perhaps not as often as a state law would indicate. And quite regularly informally presenting the facts about alcohol and of course driver training and some of the other things that we're discovering about smoking. Well Dr. Leonard you have been checking the state law in the state of Illinois anyway recently. And I would assume that other states had similar laws. Let's see what the state law has to say about alcohol were peculiarly.
Well the state law is very interesting it says that the nature of alcoholic drinks and other narcotics and their effects upon the person shall be taught. And then they go on to specify that and greeds 8:56 four lessons a week for 10 weeks shall be taught in one grades one to three three lessons a week for 10 weeks. And they want to talk about the types of textbooks and the fact that the textbooks used in grades 1 to 8 should give at least one fifth of the space in the book to the subject and then books use the high school level not less they say than 20 pages to the subject and pages in other parts of the book Blink in the back of the book shall not be counted in this. And then. Are you do you feel easier up to date regulations. Yes these these are in the book at the state court at the present time so that you can vary the part in the appendix that no one would read. That's a idea I think you are supposed to and I suppose I wonder how many
teachers and how many classes in those grades are actually teaching according to the specifics. Perhaps they're meeting the letter of the law. Well there's something else here that we as college teachers need to know and that is that in all state universities and colleges in teacher training that time misses time and attention shall be given to the instruction in the best method of teaching and no teacher shall be certified in Illinois who has not passed a test on the subject. I am on the best method of teaching the subject. Well that could be part of a course that they're taking. I think the requirement of every teacher completing a course in health generally meets that requirement. The idea is that if a prospective teacher takes the required health course and passes a test which presumably includes the nature
of alcohol he has automatically passed the test required for certification. Right it doesn't indicate how long the lesson should be public school and the grades. No it doesn't it doesn't specify any number of minutes per lesson. I would assume that these lessons would be aimed more in the direction of health. The effect of alcohol on the health of an individual rather than upon the accident prone the person using the alcohol. Yes that's very true it does go on to say that the tea shall be taught in connection with physiology and hygiene. I suppose it tells us something about any per script of regulation in the school code in other words any regulation that Telos teachers or schools exactly what they must teach and in general these tend to be either ignored completely by the school system or by the teacher or at least very little attention is given
to such prescribed requirements. And it is interesting that recently most states have tried to decrease the number of prescriptions such as the number of pages number of days per week and may simply Endacott. Information should be given to students about the dangers of smoking. The misuse of alcohol that type of information rather than making the regulation a very prescribed one. It's interesting isn't it that over the years long before the apparent injurious effects of smoking were demonstrated that schools frowned upon teachers smoking and the teachers used to sneak down to the basement or some out-of-the-way place to have a cigarette and gradually this has loosened up so that it no longer I presume that we have that basic concept the teacher must set the perfect example.
But we still would view it in a negative way. Having our teachers drinking in the presence of children. And yet I know of some let's say advanced liberal school districts where they have cocktail parties or at the PTA or a PTA committee meeting. So times have changed but at the same time I didn't help the PTA quite. At the same time it seems to me that the problem has become greater and so the schools I believe have not only this legal requirement. I think schools and the people affiliated with schools have a moral obligation. It seems that the schools and the teachers were always concerned with children smoking and they always attempted to discourage smoking on the part of Children and adults but it was only
within the last few years that we received this overwhelming evidence concerning the harmful effects of smoking on on individuals in general and I expect that there will be renewed emphasis on the teacher teacher teaching about the harmful effects of smoking. Isn't it true though legal that in the past before we found out that there was definitely a correlation between Small Teen lung cancer and other diseases that we tended to teach. Through fear. In other words we would tell students things that were not true about smoking. Eventually the student found out that what we were saying was not true. Thanks and hunting is a growth you know stunning if go as I mentioned to some of you that when I was in eighth grade I was a very tall 511 and stall as I am now.
And they kept telling us in class that if you quit smoking or if you started smoking it would stunt your growth. So I started smoking nice grade because I was the tallest kid in class and felt rather self-conscious about it. I might mention it did stunt my growth because that's where I stopped. Well it was a moral overlay. Somehow to smoking too even before they knew of the impact on lung cancer I think especially for women it was considered to be immoral. Another. Type of attempt that was made to influence children and particularly high school students not to smoke was to emphasize to them that if boys in particular smoked they would not be successful athletes. Yet as I recall the most successful athletes in the high school which I attended were the boys who smoked.
Another example of misinformation and I. I do think however that schools that enforce a no smoking regulation for athletes may have had a lot to do with cutting down the number of students not only athletes but non-athletes in a school that did smoke because in many cases the athletes tended to be respected members of the class and. Therefore members of the peer group might not smoke. Well you don't want to but are just going to say I also wonder about the coach. I agree that in general teachers should not refrain from smoking simply with the idea that they're going to prevent students from smoking. But I think because of the influence a coach has on. Athletes that if the coach smokes there isn't a greater chance that students will also be smoking.
Now a coach would argue that's true of all teachers and even parents for example. And I think this setting the example all idea prevails more with younger children and that elementary school teachers are more sensitive to this and parents are more concerned we feel somehow or other as children grow older that they should be able to observe these things and make some choices of their own. You know of course as you indicated we gave I think some misinformation about it and it's still controversial isn't I suppose some individuals still maintain that it hasn't truly been demonstrated that cigarette smoking is harmful or how they could deny this any longer I don't know. It appears that in the past the attempts by the school to discourage smoking were not very successful because the evidence that was was used perhaps did not.
Bear out what the teacher was trying to accomplish for example the smoking being harmful to athletes yet athletes who smoke being very successful. But this evidence that we have today from the United States Surgeon General's office certainly should have a terrific impact on what the school is teaching now. You know the guard to smoking and Leo I think the teacher is obligated to present the facts and even some of the studies seem to show that smoking is not harmful. And then let the air out and analyze with the children nor will the young adolescents these various studies but surely this whole scope book thing where we find the use of alcohol and smoking located requires some concern. We try to instill habits in general that are good for the individual and
society. And we come down to automobiles and driver training. I was just going to say before we leave smoking that I think smoking is. A good a good example of what happens when you have a concerted effort to teach youngsters a particular attitude in this case an attitude toward smoking that if the school along were trying to prevent students from smoking it would be very difficult. But when the school's responsible TV programs journals the American Medical Association and parents all combine to make students aware of smoking. The teaching is much more effectively effective. I just read the percentage of people who smoked prior to World War Two in high schools and the percentage of people
who smoked. I guess it was in 1965. And the percentage had dropped very very sharply for both boys and girls even though there are more girls smoking today than there were in the past but the percentages had dropped and you getting that apparently the instruction from a number of sources tends to be quite effective. Adult smoking didn't drop off well I think it dropped to when the surgeon general first put out his report and then has gone back up although there has been a marked switch to filter cigarettes even though evidence doesn't seem to support the use of the filter at least in terms of eliminating the total danger. I agree with your statistics RE I think that perhaps there are percentage smoking today is lower. On the other hand I think the average person
would disagree with you and that they see a different picture and I think probably the reason for it might be that today the boys and girls are bolder about their smoking they don't smoke behind the house or in the barn somewhere or back in the garage but they smoke right out in the open and therefore it appears on the surface that the person he's smoking today would be higher. Well starting smoking in perhaps a big initiation initiation of drinking is kind of a social motive isn't it. I think all of us when we first tried that cigar or cigarettes or corn cob I became deathly ill and it was not at all pleasant and it took some time for those who were really small to acquire the habit you had to really try because it was fundamentally disagreeable the first time you tried it. It's probably still the best way to teach. Think of it I think resos with his meal on the idea that you learn because if you
did something that you should not do the reaction would be unpleasurable. I'm certainly in this case. Most of us know that we did become male and perhaps stop smoking although I think that's a short term stop. They persisted and tried again and again and pretty soon the habit was developed. Well that's the view that I have always taken that smoking is a very difficult skill to learn. Because it involves coordination swallowing breathing exhaling and so on and being shy or running muscles and the minister manages a scored a nation and swallows too much smoke when he's alone and he becomes a very very ill. So I've always felt that it takes tremendous motivation to cause a child to want to smoke. Streit learned to smile at social motivation socially.
I want or you know have my dad Leo that I've never learned a skill and I haven't smoked since eighth grade when I started smoking a stunt my growth but I was wondering what small gain. The role the school seems to be fairly clear that we do have overwhelming evidence at least to most people that smoking is bad and therefore I think the school has to accept the obligation of society imposes upon the school and that is to teach that smoking has many dangers and that a student should be aware of these dangers and should make a decision himself but should make a decision on the evidence. But I wonder when you move into the area of alcohol the automobile and so forth. Whether the role of the school is that clear. Don't we in our own society have a great deal of contradictory evidence for example about social drinking and alcohol
and always with an emotional overlay it seems people perhaps who have had relatives that became alcoholics conclude that that first drink put you on the way to alcoholism. Others psychologists notably people who work with alcoholics attribute the alcoholism to a deeper emotional problem. For the misuse of alcohol or drugs and of course they argue you can misuse food too. You can eat so much that you injure your health by becoming obese. But the schools would have to approach this and I think a reasonable way. And of course this always presents a problem to the teacher and it depends so much I think on the community and some communities that are somewhat homogeneous especially in terms of nationality and religious groups. If a religious group tends to be very much against
drinking and it seems to me that fewer and fewer religious groups are against drinking than the school might have to play a different role because certainly the school has to reflect the attitudes of the community. But. If we accept social drinking in the community and in society. I wonder what the role of the teacher should be. Can you just teach the drinking is bad. Well surely you can teach the effects of alcohol isn't the answer. Alcoholism. Some of the problems related to alcohol is a man driving an automobile 50 percent or more of the accidents are attributed to drinking all kinds of facts. But isn't this the only type of negative type teaching that we also used with tobacco. If we stress only you have. I don't think you should stress only the negative. On the other hand what do you
stress if you stress the positive. Some doctors will prescribe a bottle of beer before going to bed. For some people men or women old people but especially if the Doctor's a good friend of yours. Who can sleep and so I say I think that moderation perhaps is what should be taught. And of course this brings us to a really fundamental question the entire community is not going to agree with the teacher. The Ministry probably will not agree with the community or the teacher. And so the teacher is really in a position of having to present what knowledge and facts and information that he has and doing his best to present the facts and the children are going to get some other points of view elsewhere anyway. I think that the school could gather a lot of facts and statistics
that were. Not only interesting but frightening and I think that these are facts that the students should know and as you mentioned being top alcohol is involved in about 50 percent of the car accidents when you stop to think that we kill about 50000 people in this country every year without a mole Beals and alcohol is involved in at least 50 percent of the cases. To me that's a staggering fact. But isn't it even more staggering on out automobiles are involved in 100 percent of automobile accidents. Absolutely. And we ought to get rid of the automobile. A No no not at all because he is an avid misuse of alcohol rather than a misuse of the automobile rather than alcohol itself. Well in most home accidents occurs in the bathroom. You can get rid of bathtubs. But this leads us on to driver training which we see established in practically all urban high schools and I recall there was a
time when the city of Los Angeles was going to remove driver training from the curriculum. It lasted about a week. That decision that didn't get a chance to take it out of the group before the parents rose in arms and they pointed out that perhaps the driver training is a matter of survival particularly in the southern California area. And so we do these things because we recognize that misuse if you point it out being Fox. It is the quality that causes them to be harmful. Perhaps these parents and California work were concerned with their insurance rates because I know on our policies the farm when our boys completed their driver education classes our insurance rates on our own automobiles were immediately reduced. But I was just going to say it isn't and oddly all that insurance companies put a great deal of faith on driver education and high school
and yet almost every research study that has been conducted especially if the study uses a control group of individuals of the same ability who have not taken driver education find that there is no difference. We do know that people who have taken driver education have fewer accidents than individuals who have not taken driver education. But since driver education is an elective in most high schools the assumption has been made that individuals who take driver education are already those individuals who would tend not to be. In many accidents there were hot rodder has learned to drive before the time that he would be able to take it in high school. You may even have a light in his license. So in my opinion we don't have conclusive evidence. The teaching driver education in the high school actually produces better drivers.
No but we do have what I call pragmatic judgment about this I started to say feelings I know you would call me on this because we can relate this to many things in the curriculum for example. We're not 100 percent sure that the person who takes a course and history or social sciences is going to be a better citizen. It's hard to research this but we feel quite sure that with regard to driver education those individuals who elect it and perhaps the day will come when will require it. Whether for the survival of all individuals because after all here are thousands of people behind the wheel of an automobile and your life depends on their knowing how to handle the automobile and they still want to accomplish it because it's a complex skill. But surely driver education the approach to teaching young people the right way to drive is going to help.
Perhaps it will be required the way fluoridation. Of water has come to be a law. It hasn't been so long ago that there was a terrible debate going on. And tremendous objects and made to fluoridation and now it is is a law in some states and some communities. Now maybe they'll change that law again as they discover something else this better. But I think those of us that have children know that something has been done to reduce the cavities because our children don't have any. But in the earlier generation had many. But isn't. I mean we started the panel by indicating that we were against prescriptive regulations and laws telling us what to teach and how to teach it. In case of. The evils of alcohol for example or the nature of alcohol. It would seem also bad to me to have a law saying that everyone must. Take
driver education at the high school. I may decide to do this in the communities. You know son and I think in some communities it's been turned over to automobile agencies that any individual who buys a car who has not had lessons must receive lessons through the automobile agency. Now of course I believe that people have to be taught how to drive an automobile but I don't know that the school is necessarily the best agency for teaching that I don't think the parent is in my own case an appositive the parent. If what I said was the most practical agency because yours were the children of all the people. Come under the direction presumably a trained adult I don't know who else would do it. What you're saying in effect is that you don't care how they're taught to drive an automobile safely and efficiently. Just so it gets done. Although I would be against a requirement that every student be taught how to drive because I think in
some cases a child may not be ready to learn to drive at that age level and in other cases a better alternative may be available for the individual than to have the school provide the driver education. I think many times we disagree on the responsibility of the school to do this and to do that. But don't you think that in almost any situation that the school is there and if there is a need for something to school as an obligation. Well I think when we combine with the community and the community knows what it what it wants the school to handle. And the school and community combine. We almost invariably will have good results with what we're doing next right. Every once in a while parents get discouraged because they say look what my children learn in the neighborhood or in this community and teachers repeatedly say I wonder if I'm having any impact at all. I teach about smoking let's
say. And here the children's parents are smoking and saying no it's nothing negative in fact perhaps arguing on the other side of it. I think each group has to do its best to do what it feels is best for children and of course being Fox we feel that this should be close to the local level rather than legislated by by a state. And so we discuss alcohol automobiles and smoking along with other things that are welfare for the individual and to society. And we note that these responsibilities are given to the schools because the schools continue to be a central agency having contact with young people and ordinarily with teachers well-trained and conscientious and anxious to serve the individual as well as the nation. This concludes our discussion on alcohol automobiles and smoking. We hope that
- Behind the Classroom Door
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- Behind the Classroom Door is a radio series from WNIU-FM about education in the United States. In each episode, faculty from the Northern Illinois University College of Education address specific issues related to public school education and operation. The program is produced in cooperation with Northern Illinois University and distributed by the National Educational Radio Network.
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 69-5-18 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
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- Chicago: “Behind the Classroom Door; 18,” 1969-04-14, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed September 20, 2021, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-1n7xqg6r.
- MLA: “Behind the Classroom Door; 18.” 1969-04-14. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. September 20, 2021. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-1n7xqg6r>.
- APA: Behind the Classroom Door; 18. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-1n7xqg6r