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Ted's teaching tips;The big picture

The thought of a 15-year-old girl marrying a 14-year-old boy will shock many pupils, but this picture of mother and daughter opens up all kinds of discussion points, which must be handled sensitively, given the range of family patterns in a typical class.

The picture

Who are these people? (not many will assume that the cigarette-smoking coalminer is the mother). Why would the mother want to talk her 15-year-old daughter out of marrying a 14-year-old boy, when such a marriage is legal in that part of the United States? What would you say to the girl and her boyfriend?


Why do people need to think carefully about marriage? (could live to be 100 or more; serious promises made during ceremony; are they suited to each other?). What promises do people make in a marriage and what do they mean? Love? Honour? Obey (optional in Anglican services since 1980)?

Sex roles

Are you surprised at the girl's mother being a coalminer? If so, why? What are "traditional" sex roles and are they changing (more women going out to work)? What are regarded as traditional women's jobs ( secretary) and men's jobs (airline pilot). Would you be willing to do a job traditionally done mainly by the opposite sex (female engineer, male nurse)?

Dramarole play

Improvise a scene where some pupils play the motherfather trying to persuade their sondaughter not to get married too young.

Ted Wragg is professor of education at Exeter University

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