There is something going on at work that is causing me great anxiety. I fear my faith may very well be clashing with what I am supposed to do in order to earn a living. It is truly tearing me apart, but ultimately I know what has to be done.
Exactly what is going on, I will not reveal as I don’t want to be recognised which would put those I teach and the school where I work in a difficult position.
The bottom line is I feel that I cannot deliver what is expected of me in terms of the National Curriculum as I feel it contradicts my Faith and could actually harm those in my care.
So, I will only talk in very general terms, mainly as therapy for myself and in the vain hope other teachers may feel able to support me with their prayers and maybe some ideas of their own for a resolution to these problems.
As things stand, parents may not withdraw their children from biology lessons where the mechanics of the sexual act are being taught. They can however withdraw their children from any of the touchy feely discussion type stuff that goes on in PHSE (Personal Health and Social Education) though there are moves afoot to make this compulsory too.
I am classed (against my will) as a Science teacher so the biology of the sexual act has to be delivered by the likes of me. We can have no difficulty in looking at plant reproduction and mammalian reproduction. Plant reproduction can involve experimental work and is good science. Most children have pets, so mammalian reproduction can be related to their pets. The nature of this study relates back to their experiences and we can quite happily discuss bitches on heat and puppy care and male dogs getting excited and “showing their lipsticks” (the children’s phrase not mine).
We live, thank God, in a culture which still has taboos on third parties watching the sexual act between adults. We certainly(whether we are religious or not) have taboos about children watching this. So why should it fall the responsibility of the hapless science teacher to have to describe and produce diagrams of said act for a random group of 11 year olds? We can have no difficulty with diagrams of rabbit or dog sexual organs and little difficulty, apart from some squeamishness, about possibly watching a video that contains some animal sex or animals giving birth. We are just about behaving as scientists, relating theory to the reality of the world around us. Teaching about the human sexual act is not science, there is no investigative work, no relation to real life experience (for 11 year olds), no analytical work and certainly no experimentation (most of these would be illegal). There is simply no need for human sexual intercourse to be on the biology syllabus for pre-14s.
Talking about puberty should firstly be the responsibility of parents and then form teachers. Detailed biological accounts of ovulation and ejaculation can wait till they are much older. A discussion about puberty should be all about the fact your body is getting ready for adulthood, but that you are not yet an adult and you have to get used to your new (and evolving) shape and appearance for many years before you can consider yourself ready to have children of your own. Some child always helpfully chirps in at this point that their cat had kittens when she was too young and hasn’t grown properly and has bad hips as a result.
I wonder why the secular world still has taboos about children watching sex between humans? Could it be that there is still a suspicion that people are more than just a biological machine, that there is some higher dignity involved in making love, or is it just some good old-fashioned shame and guilt that they are so good at accusing Catholics of being riddled with?
To be continued…