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Teacher Lesson Return to "Pushing Isaac Away"
Pushing Isaac Away
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Isolation vs. Connection

Discussion: 15 minutes
Go around the room and ask everyone to freewrite for two minutes on their most common response to something hard or painful (death of a loved one, loss of an important relationship, a big disappointment in school or work). Ask, “What do you do immediately to feel better or comfort yourself?” Then have them read out their answers and note their responses on the board or flip chart; emphasize that there are no wrong answers as long as they’re honest and heartfelt. If people do say “Use drugs or alcohol” or “Cut myself,” note it nonjudgmentally.

Now group the responses into two categories – solitary comforts or reaching out for someone else. Ask everyone if they tend to stick to one way or if they cope in solitary ways and connecting ways. (For example, if someone says “I write in my journal,” ask if they ever call a friend and vice versa.) Have the group discuss the advantages of each way of handling emotional pain.

Reading and Discussion: 40 minutes
Now have the group read “Pushing Isaac Away”. Ask them what the author is sad about (her mom’s depression; her grandmother’s illness and death; past abuse by her mother’s boyfriend; going into care and feeling out of place). Then have them discuss how she comforts herself (cutting, drinking, smoking weed, talking to Isaac). Ask why she might have chosen the self-destructive, solitary things over talking to Isaac (she didn’t want to worry him; she’d gotten in the habit of cutting; she didn’t think too highly of herself). Ask them how she’s decreased her cutting (at the end of the story, she’s realized it’s how she lost Isaac and she’d rather have love; she doesn’t seek out people who hurt her; she expresses herself). Ask if anyone in the group has resisted the urge to isolate and hurt themselves and instead reached out, and if they’d like to share what helped them cope.
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[Other Teacher Resources]
(FCYU-2014-07-05)

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