The truth about teaching pornography

Every once in a while I read a post on twitter or WordPress decrying sex education in schools. Usually these posts quote a lack of education around pornography and sexual pleasure as well as consent, inclusion and diversity. I wonder about the authors. I wonder when they were last in school. I wonder where they are based. I wonder if they have done their research or are just referring back to how things were for them.

I have written about my own sex education and I have to say that it was pretty lacking. Many of those who are calling schools out are younger than me so I can only assume that their education would have been more up to date than my own, but clearly it was still far from the mark. What does annoy me is the fact that things have moved on. And I am not just talking about the last few months, they moved on a long time ago.

Pornography as a topic for discussion has been part of our syllabus for some time and actually there are many who think that things are a bit too forward thinking. I guess you can’t win and while some will say that schools do a terrible job of providing a rounded education for sexual pleasure and sexual health, others will be waving letters and sending emails at the horror of what is being discussed.

While I can’t speak for those in other countries, I am proud of the curriculum we have around relationships, sex, health and parenting in Scottish schools. There has been a lot of work done to bring things into line with current demands on teenagers and although I would say that the previous programme was good, there was an overhaul a few years ago which updated the materials and ideas. Porn has been in the classroom as a topic for discussion for years and the materials are fairly comprehensive.

While I could write with enthusiasm for hours about what we teach, the theme for today’s post is porn. And I will start with busting a myth. It isn’t true that watching too much porn will make you go blind. Although now I come to think of it I wonder if that is why those who continue to shout about things which are factually incorrect about education today are failing to see what I continue to write.

Anyway back to pornography. Our sex ed programme runs from pre-school through primary and secondary education and is thorough and comprehensive. If you don’t believe me I can send you a link so that you can see for yourself. The first mention of pornography as such comes when the young people are about age 11. At this point it is an optional discussion which is centred around explaining what pornography is and encouraging a child to talk with a trusted adult if they see something online that upsets or worries them.

It is part of the social media/popular culture topic which looks at online safety and the law around the sharing of images and is more about safety than anything else. However, it is estimated that at least one-third of children will have seen pornographic content by the end of primary school so it is something that may be worth talking about depending on the group. By the time young people are in secondary education, it comes up again and is discussed in more detail.

There is always a balancing act and while some young people at this point may be watching a lot of pornography, others won’t have seen much and some none at all. The materials focus on discussing what pornography is, the messages that it contains and the fact that what is presented often isn’t true to life. Discussion is around challenging some of the myths surrounding the way that sex and sexual pleasure is portrayed though pornography and exploring those.

Young people build on this learning in the senior school when the topic is revisited. Similar themes are covered but by this point you are dealing with young people who are over 16 and will have more awareness and experience. Again, a balance is found so that the learning environment is a safe space for all, and the good and bad of pornography is up for open discussion. There is no judgement, no shame, just discussion of facts and an emphasis on the fact that we are all different and will like different things.

As with all topics there are sources of support provided each lesson and information to go home to extend the learning and work in partnership with families. The programme we use is a national resource and is live, so it is continually updated and amended in order to be current. It can be widely accessed and the lesson plans and teaching materials are available to view. I think it is really good and I think those who write criticising education might be pleasantly surprised if they actually went and had a look.

Anyway that is my rant over. I don’t actually like porn. It does nothing for me on a personal level and I think that this is because I am just not visually stacked. I much prefer the power of words and would get off far more easily by reading a piece of real life erotica than I would by watching pornography. I have always been this way I think and while I have watched it sometimes with HL, it can actually turn me off rather than switching me on so its not so much for me.

I do enjoy teaching about it, however, because I think it is important and valuable and because I am passionate and interested in sex and sexuality as a subject. It is difficult to encapsulate here the level of detail and the fun and the energy in the discussion and the learning, but I know that is there and experience it first hand. I find my job difficult at times but it also feels like a privilege to be able to have these sorts of discussions with young people and I believe in the importance of them.

To read something far sexier than the educational side of teaching about pornography, why not head over to 4Thoughts where other bloggers are discussing porn as a topic.

4 Thoughts or Fiction

Posted in Submissive Musings and tagged , , , .


  1. Good post, Missy. I agree that sex education has come a long way since you and I (we? I’m 29) were at school – and thank God!
    I’ve written quite a bit about sex ed and porn as I’m a former teacher turned sex writer. The issue with the British curriculum is that, whilst it addresses essential topics such as lgbt, consent and porn, this year’s revamp is the first in 18 years. Fortunately, there are many teachers who’ve taught beyond the confines of the curriculum and taught about masturbation, orgasms and (shock, horror) pleasure.
    There is still a way to go but we are making progress. Thank you for adding to the conversation.

    • Thank you. And if only I were 29 lol. I am much older than you and think that my sex Ed will have been lacking in comparison. Scotland has its own curriculum so we have been teaching a through programme for a long time. The current one has been on the go for at least the past three years but it is constantly being updated as it is online unlike the previous one which relied much more on the teacher to fill in the gaps. I think perhaps England has taken longer to get on board but people tend to assume that we all follow the same. I will keep an eye out for your posts on the topic and am looking forward to reading the current ones on cervical smears. Missy x

  2. When I worked in disability services , I often found te best information came from Scotland. Even then, I found the curriculum and teachings to be years ahead of the progress of the western world. I’m glad to see that is the same for the education system.
    I would be very interested in the link you speak of. I’m always looking for great ways to teach my boys and sadly there is a shortage of sex ed information for youth at a homeschool level. Obviously with a nursing background and being a sexual adult I can cover the basics. But you know how it is, if you have the material, answers are easier to give.
    Porn is labeled as wholly negative, which makes it difficult to explain to visual learners. Like you, I get more from words than pictures so I haven’t watched enough porn to educate others about it…
    I truly love seeing your passion to educate the worlds youth. It’s very inspiring 🙂

    • Thank you for your comment Mrs K. I have sent you the link and am interested to see what you think. If you want to use it then it will take you years to get through lol. And all complete with lesson plans so easy to pick up and run with. Missy x

  3. So glad you wrote this Missy – I think even when porn wasn’t on the agenda in schools there were always those teachers that would go the extra mile to make sure the kids learned about such matters. In fact I had a teacher who did just that at my secondary school. She had been a nun and left the convent when she fell in love with a man who offered to carry her bags when she was coming back from a missionary assignment abroad. She was the most wonderful teacher and dared to tread where others would not go lol
    I too would be interested in the link although my kids are way past needing to know what porn is about they lecture me about it and sex workers rights – so it is just out of interest
    May xx

    • She sounds so cool. That is the sort of teacher I want to be lol. I have sent you the link so hopefully you will think it’s as good as I have said x

  4. Well written. I agree with you that it is better to prepare people in advance in an appropriate safe environment than they will face something new without knowing anything about it.

  5. Interesting post missy I’d wish I knew more about the curriculum in my own country. I hope we’ve come further than putting condoms on dildos…
    Seems you are fare ahead up there in Scotland than most 👍🏻

    • Thank you Iris. And the old condom lesson is still a big favourite with the kids so we still do that and even add doing it with a blindfold or drunk goggles! Lots of fun. Missy x

  6. These are some quotes from an article published in 2016. “In the late 1990s, as part of the “welfare reform,” abstinence only until marriage (AOUM) sex education was adopted by the U.S. government as a singular approach to adolescent sexual and reproductive health.” “Regarding content, quality, and inclusivity, 13 states mandate instruction be medically accurate, 26 that it be age appropriate, eight that it not be race/ethnicity or gender bias, eight that it be inclusive of sexual orientation, and two that it not promote religion. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2014 School Health Policies and Practices Study found that high school courses require, on average, 6.2 total hours of instruction on human sexuality, with 4 hours or less on HIV, other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and pregnancy prevention.”

    • Wow. If that is still the case then it is shocking. I don’t pretend to understand the system in the US and I have heard many complain about it. I am not sure how they get away with it. We would probably spend about 15-20 hours each year on topics related to relationships, sex, health and parenthood. Those would be face to face instructional lessons which would have a mixture of information sharing, discussion and active learning activities.

  7. I wish the USA wasn’t so puritanical when it comes to sex, gender identity, sensuality, and expressions of love.

    Most sex education here and even body awareness sucks. It is Crap.

    The 11 year old in the house just started menstruation and she didn’t know her body well enough to follow her Physician Mom’s instructions regarding tampon use. Obviously Mom had a pleasant open conversation about what was going on and her daughter’s body but the lack of any body awareness training in her schooling to date was awful.

    I am glad to hear there are better practices elsewhere but I wish the US would catch up.
    If you could I would love the link to the Scotland education material?

    • Thank you. I have heard that things are very patchy in the US and seem to vary so much from state to state. I think that the religious and political landscapes made it very different in comparison to here. I know that Scotland is not the same as England but there isn’t such a huge gap.

      I will email you the link to our resources. Missy x

  8. You have told me before about the extensive sex education program you have in Scotland, and I think many countries can learn from that. Where a bit more attention is being given to sex education here in the Netherlands, the program is in no way as extensive as the one you have. Thank you for writing about this.
    ~ Marie xox

    • Thank you Marie. I always thought the Netherlands sort of led the way as they seem to be much more forward thinking in many aspects of sexuality and sexual pleasure etc. I watched a documentary once where they looked at introducing a GCSE in sex Ed to a group of English students and they had a Dutch teacher speaking about what they did. I remember she had a set of fabric female genitals and they had to stick the Velcro parts on. The course they put together was really interesting and the pupils were totally engaged. It was an experiment so not a real qualification but it left an impression for sure. Missy x

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