Every year, teaching The Giver by Lois Lowry throws curve balls.
This year, I'm not teaching it in my own 15:1 class, and I'm not teaching it with the same coteacher I had for 7 years or so. I'm with a new teacher, who is super receptive to my wacky ideas.
So today and yesterday (because hybrid teaching means you have groundhog day across two days as you teach cohort 1 on Monday and then repeat the lesson for Cohort 2 on Tuesday), we did a circle discussion about... The Stirrings. I love love love this awkward conversation, because The Stirrings are basically puberty's arrival by way of a saucy dream, and because they report their dreams at breakfast to their families, the main character's parents are alerted to his sexual awakening and start him on the pull that will take those feelings away. Every adult takes the pills. So no one has those sexual feelings, no one has romantic love, NO ONE HAS SEX. Babies in this world are born to Birthmothers, who are assigned to the job (everyone's assigned to something) and do three births, then hard labor for the rest of their lives. People with spouses are assigned children after they apply for them and are approved.
This BLOWS THE KIDS' MINDS when they realize all the implications.
So, we asked a bunch of questions that went around the circle, and eventually got to...
"If no one is having sex, where do the babies come from? Do you need to have sex to have a baby?"
It eventually gets to the biological science of reproductive technology, and that we actually have this technology now, and in appropriate terms I explain it and how they could use science to create the babies, and how it's an option now but in the book, that's how ALL babies are made.
And when giving examples of reproductive technology, the teacher I coteach with mentioned a science teacher who did this and had twins, and her sister in law who is a lesbian and had twins with her wife through this technology, and everything was going great until...
She said, "in our world, this is how people who can't have babies the old fashioned way get to have babies! It helps everyone have a baby who wants one."
I just about choked on my own bilious spit.
"IN THEORY," I said a little aggressively. "SOME people use this technology over and over and over and NEVER get to have a baby. It works for some, not all."
The kids kind of looked at me funny and then we moved to the next prompt, but it stuck with me. I didn't want to get all nitty gritty with it and be like, "it's great but it doesn't actually work 70% of the time." Normally I might have shared bits of my story with the students by now, but the weird schedule and the masks have kind of inhibited that personal connection.
I don't doubt that some savvy students may have caught my irritation. I'll take it though, over "in our world, anyone can just get busy and have a kid!" which overlooked the whole idea that not everyone gets what they seek in our world.
A fairly painless Giver experience this year, for which I am grateful.