Teaching Students About June and Jennifer Gibbons

In the realm of mysterious and captivating stories, few can compare with the fascinating tale of June and Jennifer Gibbons, also known as the Silent Twins. This story, besides being a remarkable case in psychological and social behavior studies, can become an excellent resource to enhance students’ interest in various subjects such as psychology, sociology, literature, and even criminology. In this article, we will discuss the importance of teaching about the Gibbons twins and how to approach their story in the classroom setting.

June and Jennifer Gibbons were born on April 11, 1963, in Barbados and later moved with their family to England. They were black girls raised in a predominantly white neighborhood known for racial tensions. The twins developed an unusually close bond and created their own language to communicate privately. This intense connection led them to live a life of isolation from society, including their family members who barely heard them speak.

Despite their social seclusion, both girls showcased exceptional literary abilities from an early age. They wrote numerous poems, short stories, and even novels throughout their teenage years. Unfortunately, several vain attempts to integrate with their peers resulted in crime involvement which ultimately led them to be confined at the Broadmoor Hospital for 11 years.

Teaching about June and Jennifer Gibbons opens doors for learners to explore numerous themes such as mental health issues (including Elective Mutism), race relations in modern society, adolescence challenges, sibling relationships, creativity under constraint conditions, and criminal rehabilitation process.

Here are some tips on how to teach about June and Jennifer Gibbons:

1. Background information: Begin by providing students with background information on the twins’ upbringing and family dynamics. This context helps them understand better how these factors contributed to their unique bond.

2. Language development: Discuss the concept of idioglossia – an idiosyncratic language made up by a few people, often siblings. Analyze how isolation and their personalized communication influenced the twins’ relationship with one another as well as their interaction with the outside world.

3. Psychological perspective: Explain the reasons why the twins developed Elective Mutism and how refusal to speak may be used as a form of control or power in certain situations. Invite a psychology expert or school counselor to speak about selective mutism and related conditions in the context of the Gibbons twins’ story.

4. Their literary work: Introduce students to June and Jennifer’s literary output, exploring themes, style, and language from their poems, stories, and novels. Use excerpts from their works for students’ analysis and inspire them to create their own pieces in the same style as an exercise in creative writing.

5. Criminology aspect: The involvement of the twins in crimes and their subsequent confinement at Broadmoor Hospital allow for discussions regarding the criminal justice system, rehabilitation, and punitive measures. Consider setting up debates or class assignments on these topics.

By teaching about June and Jennifer Gibbons’ lives, educators can enrich their students’ understanding of several contemporary issues while engaging them in an intriguing real-life story that captivates minds across various disciplines.

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