Did you know that one in four boys between 10 and 14 years old diet despite being a healthy weight? And, that girls and boys who diet are in fact at 324 percent greater risk for obesity than those who do not diet? Body-based harassment continues to be socially acceptable and the reality is that students bring these real life issues into the classroom. Teachers are eager to assist students with developing key skills to be successful, but are sometimes unsure of where to turn for resources, support and next steps.
Exploring issues of body image and self-esteem development is vital for students in today's society. Research continues to show that girls and boys are engaging in self-harming behaviours such as food restriction/dieting, excessive exercising, etc. at earlier ages; and that poor body image in youth can result in avoidance of many academic, social and economic opportunities. Students in today's society need to develop critical thinking skills that allow them to critically analyze the multitude of messages they are bombarded with from adults, peers, society, and media.
Beyond Images, a free, online body image curriculum from NEDIC (National Eating Disorder Information Centre) provides students in grades 4 to 8 with the opportunity to explore key issues in today's society around body image and self-esteem as well as media messaging, while developing critical thinking skills. The Beyond Images program is a powerful tool in creating authentic learning opportunities for students in the classroom, and fits nicely into collaborative inquiry opportunities in junior and intermediate classrooms. Prepared lessons target Ontario curriculum expectations as well as critical thinking skills. Teachers engage with the students through the lessons in a very authentic learning process, from establishing learning goals and success criteria, to providing a variety of opportunities through which students demonstrate their learning through the arts and media. These lessons can be downloaded from BeyondImages.ca, where there is an introductory webinar and information to further teachers' understanding of the key issues related to body image and self-esteem development in students.
Perhaps the best part of Beyond Images is the opportunity to work with The Director's Cut - a company that provides "in class field trips" in which students engage in the Beyond Images lessons and use their learning to create digital media that demonstrates their understanding. Students work collaboratively with their peers to create outstanding media representations of their learning. As the culminating task to a collaborative inquiry based on the "big ideas" of body image and critical media awareness, inviting Director's Cut to come into the classroom to work with students provides hands-on learning experiences which incorporate descriptive, immediate feedback, and assessment opportunities.
As teachers weigh the opportunities to balance new and exciting ideas with the required curricula, board and ministry initiatives for this school year, bringing Beyond Images into the classroom is a vital way to assist students with developing critical thinking skills, combating body-based harassment, and meeting the requirements of planning collaborative inquiries that are meaningful.
Heather Thompson is co-author of the Grades 4 – 8 curriculum which can be accessed at www.BeyondImages.ca.
Beyond Images is a program of the National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC). NEDIC is a Canadian not-for-profit organization committed to the prevention of eating disorders. For more information visit NEDIC.ca or call the toll-free helpline at 1-866-NEDIC-20 or 416-340-4156.
Perspectives web magazine is published by the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF), a national alliance of provincial and territorial teacher organizations that represent nearly 232,000 elementary and secondary school teachers across Canada.
Editor In Chief: Francine Filion |
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