Is there a place for love and romance — or, at least, reading, writing and research about academic aspects of it — in your classroom?
Try some of our ideas, below, though make sure to first preview the Times articles linked from each to determine their appropriateness for your students.
We’d also be delighted to hear what you do (or don’t do!) to mark this holiday in your classroom; please leave a note in the comments.
Write Personal Essays, Stories and Poems about Relationships
— In this article ten New Yorkers tell short personal stories of love and enchantment in the City. In this piece, people share stories of breakups and bad dates. Use these stories or the weekly Modern Love column — in which essayists write about relationships with romantic partners, family members, friends or even beloved animals — as inspiration for your own essays, stories and poems. And if the longer essays are too challenging as models, try the “Tiny Love Stories,” each no more than 100 words. What would yours say?
— Or, listen to love with the Modern Love podcast — and find a Reader Idea about using those podcasts to teach narrative writing. If you get really inspired and want to make your own, consider submitting it to our annual Student Podcast Contest this spring. In 2018 one of our winning teams was a teenage couple, Quinn Page and Bailey Osborne, who explored the question, Should your significant other be your best friend?
— Watch love stories via Modern Love videos, like the one below:
A 12-year-old girl’s life and love are shattered by the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
— Write a love letter — to your crush, a friend, a pet, a place or even a favorite possession. Use these drawings, letters, poems, telegrams and letters created by famous New Yorkers as inspiration. Or, answer our Student Opinion question, “What Does the World Need to Know About an Important Person in Your Life?” that was inspired by a popular Modern Love essay, “You May Want to Marry My Husband.”
— You could also try to send a Valentine’s Day appreciation to the people who have played important roles in your life. In this essay, a writer tells everyone from her fifth grade crush to her hairdresser to her therapist what they mean to her. Who would be on your list?
Read and Write About Weddings
— Using the weekly Vows or Mini-Vows columns in the Weddings section as inspiration, interview a couple about their relationship. (How did they meet? What are the most memorable moments in their history together? What makes them well-suited to each other?) Write up what you learn in a short and entertaining Vows-style narrative and illustrate your story with a photo. Or, make a video, like this one about the first-ever same-sex couple to appear in the column, in 2002.
— Read about 10 inspirational marriage proposals Times readers submitted in 2009, then write a short skit that depicts an original and memorable marriage proposal between characters you invent.
Take Some Romance-Themed Literacy Quizzes
— Match the besotted, thwarted, inappropriate or (more rarely) happy character from classic works of literature with his or her beloved via this quiz.
— What words belong in the 21 blanks of our Valentine’s Day fill-in? You can fill them in from your own imagination, “Mad-Libs”-style, or choose from a scrambled list of the words that originally appeared in this 2010 Modern Love column.
— E.L.L. students might enjoy our interactive quiz and teaching suggestions for Valentine’s Day that are inspired by a fun Times article about one offbeat way to spend the holiday.
History and Psychology
Learn About Love and Marriage Through the Ages and Across the Globe
— What do primary documents from different eras tell us about attitudes toward love, romance and marriage? Read this Op-Ed piece that features Victorian-era “amorous advertisements,” taken from the pages of The New York Herald, and compare them with similar ads, from Craigslist or elsewhere, today.
— Look inside a vast collection of cards, from as early as the 1680s, featuring pop-ups, cutouts and Civil War soldiers in “Three Centuries of Valentines Offer 12,000 Ways to Say ‘I Love You’.” Compare the words, images and sentiments to Valentines cards today. What’s changed? What’s remained the same?
— Just what are we celebrating when we celebrate Valentine’s Day? Where did this holiday come from and why do we care about it so much? Read this article about major Valentine’s Day theories, from ancient Rome to the present. Then, do your own research to see what other histories you can find. Which do you find the most compelling and why?
— Where in the world is Valentine’s Day, or a tradition like it, celebrated? How does it differ from celebrations in the U.S.? For instance, read “‘You Can’t Ban Love’: Pakistanis Defy a Valentine’s Day Prohibition” to learn about how the Islamabad High Court banned Valentine’s celebrations across Pakistan, deeming them “against the teachings of Islam” and a sign of growing Western influence — and how some are taking a risk by celebrating anyway. Or, read about the day sometimes called Russian St. Valentine’s Day and what it honors.
— The speed and the scope of the gay rights movement has been “astonishing” compared to that of movements for African-Americans’ or women’s rights, The Times wrote in a 2013 piece, “A Sea Change in Less Than 50 Years as Gay Rights Gained Momentum.” Two years later a Supreme Court ruling made same-sex marriage a right nationwide in the United States. What do you know about the history of this movement in the United States? Elsewhere in the world? Use Times search to learn more, and to see where L.G.B.T.Q. issues stand today.
Test a Psychological Experiment
— Here’s how “To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This,” one of the most popular-ever posts on NYTimes.com. It begins:
More than 20 years ago, the psychologist Arthur Aron succeeded in making two strangers fall in love in his laboratory. Last summer, I applied his technique in my own life, which is how I found myself standing on a bridge at midnight, staring into a man’s eyes for exactly four minutes.
Read the essay and discuss whether or not you believe this could actually work — or put it to the test by experimenting with a partner and the 36 Questions That Lead to Love. After, consider the questions we ask in our related Student Opinion question: What makes two people fall in love? Is it fate or chemistry? Or could it simply be having the chance to get to know someone intimately in a short period of time?
— Or, read another of the most popular Modern Love columns of all time, “What Shamu Taught Me About a Happy Marriage,” and learn about the behavioral techniques the writer learned from a dolphin trainer to “nudge” her husband “a little closer to perfect.” You might then try out similar techniques, whether in the context of a relationship, a bad habit of your own, or as a way to “nudge” your school or community on a particular issue or behavior.
Investigate and Advise the “Romance Industry”
What are the economics of Valentine’s Day and the romance industry in general? Check out pieces on everything from the reason behind the 2019 dearth of Sweethearts candies to how the world’s top flower market gets ready for Valentine’s Day. Then, choose a business, industry or local store that thrives on Valentine’s Day and investigate how it advertises, what special products it offers, how its services or offerings have changed over the years, and more. What advice would you give this business? Why?
Or, focus only on the economic impact of online dating, and research the various services, like online dating coaches, that have grown up around it. How do these businesses work? Why, according to this article, are they fairly easy to start but hard to grow? Where do you think this industry will go in the future? Why?
In fact, online dating has become such a big business that, according to reports filed with the Federal Trade Commission, Americans looking for love lost at least $143 million to scammers last year. What advice might you give a friend or relative to make sure they stay safe?
Be a Romance Entrepreneur
Invent your own Valentine’s Day product, service or app. For instance, what gifts would you add to this T Magazine list for those who are “indifferent, hurt, on the run or dumped?”
Tell Someone You Love Them — With Economics
Budget for Romance
— Plan a romantic getaway or dinner on a budget, using Times resources. If you had, say, $100 (or $25, or $5) to spend on Valentine’s Day, how could you get the most bang for your buck? Use this lesson plan with the Valentine’s Day Times Topics page, which includes recipes for Valentine’s dinners and suggestions for places to visit, things to do and gifts to give, to plan the best celebration possible.
Fine Arts and Media
Looking for Love
View Slide Show ›
Look for Artistic Manifestations of Love
— In “Love Is in the Air, and in the Art,” a critic first defines several types of love, then looks for manifestations of them in art in New York City — and finds everything from a sculpture called “Sleeping Eros” at the Metropolitan Museum to the bronze figure of Balto, a heroic dog, in Central Park. Where can you find manifestations of love in art in your area?
Create Art to Explore Love and Relationships
— In a work of Op-Art called “Pick Your Cupid,” artist Ji Lee takes the classic cherub figure and remakes it to express everything from “In a relationship, but looking” to “hipster” to “filthy rich.” Choose another classic symbol of love and create versions that say something new, or needed, for the 21st century.
— Create a photo essay or video about some aspect of love and romance in your life, school or community. You could photograph “Where to Hold Hands” in your area, curate images of kisses that like these, show many meanings, document how a local restaurant celebrates Valentine’s Day, create original works of art that modernize older notions of love and relationships, or create a map or graphic that explores your romantic life— real or imagined.
Math, Science and Technology
Analyze a Graphic on the Language of Love
The graph above is from our weekly “What’s Going On in This Graph?” feature and is in some way related to love and relationships. Take a closer look and tell us: What do you notice? What do you wonder? What do you think is going on in this graph? Read the comments to see what other students had to say and what our moderators from the American Statistical Association replied, then then add your own.
Use Math to Make the Perfect Valentine
“Nothing says ‘I love you’ like a customizable algebraic equation,” writes The Times about Süss, the math widget above:
Like many geometric figures, a heart can be captured in all its curvaceous glory by a single algebraic equation. The equation for a sphere looks simple enough: x²+y²+z²=1. A heart is something more complex:
Süss — German for “sweet” — is an interactive widget that allows you to tweak the algebra and customize the heart to your souls’s delight. It was created for Valentine’s Day by Imaginary, a nonprofit organization in Berlin that designs open-source mathematics programs and exhibitions. (You can also visit their widget on its website here.)
Play with the widget and read about how it incorporates the concept of extreme points, or “singularities,” a subject of study in the field of algebraic geometry.
Study the Science of Love
— Find out what happens in the brain when you fall in love, as well as how your brain reacts to being dumped.
— Use Valentine’s Day as an excuse to study the heart. The Times Health section has a special page on Heart Disease and Health, which you could use while doing our lesson plans on advanced technologies used to treat diseases of the cardiopulmonary system, or on looking at how social class affects the health of heart patients.
Explore the Impact of Technology on Relationships
Apps like Happn, Bumble and Glimpse offer an alternative to Tinder. Source :nytimes