Death Ed

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.
     Posted By: Alex - Wed Dec 29, 2021
     Category: Death | Education

At my Junior High School, the staff had gathered all the girls together and given them a sex ed talk. A few weeks later, they asked all the boys to assemble in the same auditorium. ("Great! Now it's our turn to learn about girls 'down there', which is what we want more that anything, of course.") What were we lectured about? Car styling!!! Warped sense of humor, there.
Posted by Virtual in Carnate on 12/29/21 at 11:41 AM
Ah, yes. Typical American attitude towards the difference between the start of life and the end of life. "Talk all you can about sex, but no talk about death.", is the usual approach towards the two. I find people uncomfortable when they ask about the deaths of my father and brother over the last year. But dad was eighty-five and in declining health and brother was self abusive and knew better.
Posted by KDP on 12/29/21 at 03:40 PM
Regarding the mention of the Marshall University football team, I found this:
Posted by ges on 12/29/21 at 07:33 PM
At a time when teenage suicide preoccupies most parents and most children have never seen a dead relative (except maybe once at the funeral parlor), it would be good to talk about death at school for the same reason it's good to talk about sex at school. However, I would expect less death inventory and more interviews with a mortician and a police officer, lessons about death and funerals around the world, videos about autopsies, school visit to a body farm, etc.
Posted by Yudith on 12/30/21 at 06:39 AM
@KDP: speaking as a European, I don't get the impression that Americans "talk all they can about sex" at all. Maybe among the adults, but certainly (it appears to me) not with the children. At any rate, I cannot imagine a Western European school teaching Abstinence Only Sex "Ed", which apparently is a thing in some (not all!) parts of the USA.

(At any rate, Death Ed in high school would've been too late for me. My mum died when I was 8...)
Posted by Richard Bos on 01/01/22 at 06:11 AM
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