Earlier this month, a Mississauga teacher was suspended for facilitating a drama activity wherein his 13-year-old students were provided with a list of ingredients for how to make Crystal Meth.
The assignment materials instructed students through the recipe to not only make Crystal Meth but included a detailed manual as to how to inject meth with a syringe. Students were then encouraged to role play injecting the drug and were instructed to feel happy as they did it.
Needless to say, parents have expressed outrage and have been left wondering how an educator, put in a position of trust, could treat such a potentially dangerous subject so casually and irresponsibly.
Upon hearing of this story, my first reaction was that I wasn’t getting all the information. I wanted to explore the issue further to undercover what the second piece of the assignment entailed. I wanted to see how the teacher had used this activity as a springboard to provide valuable substance use education.
Certainly, there had to be a positive learning outcome that this graphic exercise led the students towards?
Sadly, the opportunity to provide real factual information about Crystal Meth and its effects were never provided. In fact, students were left only with an ingredient list, a recipe and a how-to-guide as to how to inject Crystal Meth. And to top it off, don’t forget to act happy as your doing it.
I know this dramatization doesn’t mean that each of these students is about to open a Meth Lab in their neighbours Motorhome. What is worrisome however, is that this information was provided by a person who is ostensibly viewed as a person of trust.
By not providing any balancing information or education regarding substance use, the teacher has, whether inadvertently or not, provided a glorified example of drug use.
At 13 years old, the adolescent brain is still developing regions that process consequences of behaviours.
The frontal lobe which processes and regulates judgement is still “under construction” Couple this with the developmental social stage that gravitates towards the assertion of independence in decision making and it is quite evident how irresponsible activities such as this risk sending a very laissez-faire message to students.
Many of these students will be faced with real life exposure and decisions concerning drug use in their very near future. This activity presents as being potentially harmful as their adolescent brains try to make valuable decisions for themselves.
The Canadian Centre For Addiction is a research leader regarding youth development and how to effectively talk to young adults about substance use, misuse and abuse.