Hearts & Flowers


Valentine’s Day in high schools is somewhat like Halloween, only worse because the only most popular students are smothered with hearts and flowers. 

It’s a steady stream of Student Government kids waltzing in and out of classrooms, delivering long-stemmed carnations and short-versed Valentine prose to the fortunate few who gleefully add the new blooms to their growing bouquets.  The rest of the class smile forced smiles, grateful that Valentine’s Day happens only once a year.

Many English teachers, knowing that classroom interruptions were imminent, assigned poetry writing on Valentine’s Day — usually a combination of Loving Lyrics and Venomous Verses. 

Your hair is as golden as the sunlight on a summer’s day…

Your breath is as foul as cow patties in a heat wave…

Not in my class. 

I decided early on that my job also included doing my best to prevent pregnancies among my hormonal students. So why not take full advantage of Valentine’s Day to re-enforce the message?

The lesson plan was fairly simple.

I’d keep the girls inside and send the boys into the hall. 

Round I Directions were given separately to each group:  Brainstorm all the qualities you look for in a partner and have a scribe write down all those qualities.

They went at it, oblivious to the other group and completely unconcerned about what the other gender was up to.

Round II:  Now, agree on the top ten qualities and then put them in order of importance.  Again, write them down.

That took some time, debating the numerous qualities and then putting the ten in the order of importance.  I won’t say the lists were predictable, but they were. 

Year after year, predictable.

Once the lists were finished, the young men were brought back into the room.  I then asked one person from each group to write their list, in the order of importance, on the chalkboard.

And waited patiently for the predictable response.

The girls listed, more or less in order of importance: integrity, ambition, responsible, a sense of humor, kind, and so on down the list, with a smile or eyes completing their to ten.

The boys looked at the girls’ list, looked at one another and realized they had probably blown both the assignment and any future social life.

The boys’ list? 

As I recall, it was pretty much a draw between tits and ass, or ass and tits, in the top two positions, followed closely by legs, figure, sexy, smile, eyes (more or less in order) and finally wrapping up with honesty.

The girls were appalled. They were seriously offended. They looked accusingly at their male classmates, yelling is this really why you guys ask us out?  The boys were now cowering in the opposite corner. The girls immediately decided to cancel all Valentine’s Day dates.

The boys alternated between looking sheepish and protesting the assignment was a setup.

It was.

It was also an exercise in left hemisphere/right hemisphere interpretation of the world, but that was lost on the girls who grew increasingly indignant, loudly vowing not to date again until they were adults and could meet more mature men.

Alas, from what I’ve read in other blogs of single young women, the maturity part probably wasn’t in the cards, but, judging from what I heard later from some of my graduating girls, that Valentine’s lesson was a gift did keep some of the girls on track, and not pregnant, for graduation and college.