In the early 1970s, inspired by the introduction of Sex Education classes, some religious leaders and funeral directors suggested adding Death Education classes to high school curriculums. And apparently such classes were introduced, for a while, at some schools.
The Raleigh Register Beckley Post-Herald - Aug 14, 1971
The book Mind and Society Fads
, by Frank Hoffmann and William Bailey, offers some info about how Death Education classes were conducted:
High school students were asked to select one literary passage concerning death that most closely reflected their personal belief. The images ran the gamut from those of utter destruction to immense delight in death. Next, elementary school children compiled a scrapbook of newspaper clippings that classified the causes of death, especially the ones that most affected elementary school-aged populations. For high school and above, students completed a personal death inventory, answering such questions as, "Are you afraid of death?" "Have you made plans for your final days?" and "Do you believe that there are people to whom you wish to make peace with, express gratitude to, praise, thank, or express love to prior to your death?"...
Death education classes also required students to write position papers on a controversial death issue, study cryogenics, debate the religious aspects of death, play "Run For Your Life" — what would you do if you only had a limited time to live, and envision what might precipitate the deathblow(s) to earth...
Paradoxically, teaching children and adolescents about death has not raised parental hackles like sex education. During the same time that death education (i.e., the most morbid aspect of living) struggled for a foothold, classroom instruction about sexuality (i.e., the most vivid aspect of living) met with considerable resistance.