I teach sex education. Actually, I teach sexual health and relationships education and we follow a national programme which meets the relevant outcomes for health and well being in those areas. I have written before about the probable fallout there would be if it was discovered that the teacher was actually a kinky sex blogger, but that really I feel that the experience gained from my extra curricular activities means that I am more knowledgeable than I would be otherwise.
Just because I am an educator doesn’t mean that I always think the right things are on the curriculum. There are various constraints meaning that what you would like to say and what you actually say can vary, and remembering your audience is usually at the heart of that. With young people the audience is not just those sat in front of you, it includes the other people who they interact with too. By enlightening them within what feels like quite a controlled setting, you may also be shouting it out to the other kids on the school bus, whispering into the ear of their younger brother on the way home from school or shocking their parents at the dinner table.
Rest assured what you are supposed to have said and what you actually said will be lost and elaborated somewhere in translation and that is always at the back of my mind. Another issue can be the social and cultural differences that exist within a busy classroom and the huge difference in maturity levels and experience amongst a group of same-aged peers. What is right for one won’t necessarily be right for the next and there is always someone waiting on the end of a telephone to tell you that you have said or done the wrong thing and call you into question.
Having said that, I do believe it is important to make sex less taboo than it has been in the past. It is important to encourage young people to be broad-minded and accept that we are not all the same in that area, as with anything. It is essential that they feel included and that their sexuality is a positive thing. There should be no shame around sex and any education programme has a responsibility to ensure that healthy attitudes are at the core. Our programme focuses on the rights and responsibilities that we have as individuals entering into relationships and consent is always at the heart of that.
Understanding not just the physical but also the emotional side is central as is knowing how to keep yourself safe and healthy. I honestly think that the education that is delivered these days is good. There will always be critics but usually the criticisms don’t come from the young people themselves. It is certainly way more comprehensive than when I was at school and really we had to educate ourselves. The internet has made access to material so much easier for the current generation but this is not without its hazards and many of our young people have unrealistic views, not just of sexual behaviour, but also of what bodies are really like and how they work.
Although parents have a responsibility for sharing in the education of their children, this has to be done in partnership and for the most part, the classroom is an easier environment for teenagers. There is always the fact that we cannot legislate for what parents and carers choose to share or how thoroughly that is done, so I do think that the responsibility falls to schools make sure that a curriculum containing more than just the basics is available for all. The people I engage with through my blog tend to be knowledgeable people with a sex positive approach who, I am sure, would make sure that their children are well equipped for life in that area, but we are definitely in the minority.
It is hard for me to look back on the little that was covered when I was at school and pick on one thing which I think should have been included. Suffice to say that the gaps were huge and the subliminal messages about what was ‘normal’ were damaging. It was a different time and a different age and education has to change in line with society. Although school is still a difficult environment for many LGBTQ young people, I think that the change in approach towards gender and sexuality has to be one of the biggest moves to address some of the most significant gaps in what has been delivered in the past.
F4TFriday #62 – Education, Education, Education…
What a fabulous post Missy!!! My memory of this class was embarrassment and being made fun of by the in crowd. I didn’t have and hadn’t had a boyfriend, refused to pull my blouse tight to show off my breasts and so I was the class “flat chested fridged” outcast to be made fun of.
Thankfully school didn’t last long. Needless to say when our boys got to the summer before high school we sat them down and gave them as much information as we could. Explaining the legal aspects of statutory rape, and consent. Sexual health. Emotional needs and being responsible. They generally responded with “why are you telling me this” and mortification.
But I always figured we’d at least tried to make them aware of as much as we could even when it was uncomfortable for us to do it.
I think you’re totally correct. Sex needs to be less hidden (not that I mean it should be on display – unless that’s your kink etc) more talked about and less whispered about. More frank honestly and less sniggered misinformation…
I am pleased that things have changed so much and although we still have a way to go, things are a lot more comprehensive than they were. If only all parents would share, despite the embarrassment ?
Omg I know. I am a high school educator and mother hugger it’s such bullshit navigating the line between what is on the curriculum and “what kids actually need to know” ugh
I think where we are it is pretty good and things in my classroom tend to be quite open but there is a lot of variation from area to area and definitely country to country. I saw a programme once where they made a qualification in it. It was only part serious but it might mean at least there was a standard. Assessment could be fun lmao
I’m trained as an english teacher who is teaching industrial arts (timber, metal, engineering). My thing is just trying to teach kids to not be arseholes and realise when they have to obey and when they can push the boundaries… in school and in life. Because school is fantastic practice for real life. I dont deal with sex education, but I know that this “thing” I’m trying to teach is symbolic and can be applied to any area. But 100% consent, compliance, and when and where you can try to test your limits.
Btw I’m in Australia. And have the wonderful vantage of seeing the best and worst of the western and eastern education systems, and what works in the northern hemisphere doesn’t translate well in the southern hemisphere.
I am qualified as an English teacher too and this other role where I am responsible for the pastoral care of pupils has come after. We are in Scotland and I think the system is pretty good here ?
It’s great to see a teacher’s perspective on sex/health ed in this time. I have wondered at times if it’s any better than it was when I was in high school (mid to late 2000s) so this was really insightful ?.
I agree with there needing to be more for the LGBTQ kids. A big portion of our year was LGBTQ and all they got was, “By the way, sometimes girls like girls and sometimes boys like boys.” and that was it. Even then, parents were freaking out that we were “being exposed to too much” because of that and education on relationships, which is ridiculous as we were getting basics to do with consent and relationships etc. in comparison.
Thankfully, my parents filled me in on the rest and were absolutely great with the questions I had.
Sex definitely does need to be less hidden in means of less shame attached to it. ? x
We try to visit it more than that and I think it is better if it’s not an isolated thing (time for the DVD on sexuality). We talk about sexuality but also gender identity and gender expression too and explain the fact that it isn’t a fixed thing and that one does not determine the other so I think it is better. ?
Ah, the DVDs! ? Some of the ones we had were absolutely hilarious looking back! I’ve no idea what it’s like giving your kids “the talk” but if I ever have my own, no doubt I’ll be as red faced as my parents probably were when my time came for that! ?
That’s brill ? We didn’t have really much on gender identity, except for in science when we very briefly covered Thomas Beattie, a trans man who gave birth to his three kids known as “the pregnant man” at the time. Go gender expression! ?
That was probably white forward thinking to even include a trans man. And don’t worry about the DVDs. There are plenty of excruciatingly cheesy ones still in circulation. ?
It was during a lesson about genetics so it was really interesting, and forward thinking (kudos to my science teacher) it just wasn’t really talked about at the time, especially not with teenage kids. Glad to know they’re still around, cheesy DVDs are tradition lol ?
Being about the same age and coming from broadly the same part of the world it’s perhaps not surprising that our experiences were pretty similar (if you remember section 6.6 of that first year red science book then we are both on exactly the same page). From what my son (now 20) told me, things do seem to have improved.
I do think that when we talk about our “duty” to protect our children, the fact that protecting them from the misinformation around sex that is so readily available gets forgotten/overlooked. The only way to effectively protect our kids from misinformation is to give them good information ourselves.
Omg that is so funny. I think you mean sexion 6.6. People talked about it all year in the build up. That made me really laugh out loud ?
Curriculum is a guide. Personally if the curriculum is lacking, I think teachers should fill in the gaps. Curriculum is decided largely by politicians and they aren’t really thinking about what’s best for the kids. Therefore responsible teachers can address the politicians errors and correct them. My thoughts anyways. Another thing about curriculum—it doesn’t take into consideration any new knowledge. It is stagnant. A good teacher can infuse new information into their lessons despite the curriculum.
Yes I agree with you. I feel that ours is pretty good especially compared to some places that I have heard of ?