Middle school existentialism

I’ve been reading The Giver every year I’ve taught 8th grade English.  And every year I love it.  I love the conversations it provokes from my students; conversations about the importance of making your own choices, about safety versus freedom, about the meaning of life itself.  And inevitably we talk about death.

Those who live in the sheltered world of the Giver’s community know nothing of death.  They believe that people are “released” from the community and go to “Elsewhere”.  In my class we talk about denial, about grief, and about the role of religion in explaining the unknown.  It’s heavy stuff.  Today it provided this little gem of a conversation between two students.

Kid 1: Death is totally going to suck.

Kid 2: Yeah remember before you were born, it’s like that, nothing. Totally boring.

Kid 1: Yeah, it really sucks.

I’m sure there are scholars who could say it in a more complex way, but not nearly as entertaining and probably just as enlightening.