Sunday, 26 July 2009

Sex education rant....

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…


Francis said...

My children started sex education at Catholic PRIMARY school! By the time they might have arrived in your class you'd be teaching them old hat (which happens all too often in secondary schools, by thhe way, but that's another argument.

Also, it's not unsusal for girls to be experiencing puberty at primary school. It seems to me that it makes sense for them to know what it's about.

Besides, they get most of their 'educaiton' in the classroom and from older brothers and sisters.

Rita said...

You make a good point. However, there are many youngsters who have not been exposed to this or who are somewhat vulnerable due to messy parental relationships. I just don't like having to teach to the "lowest common denominator" assuming they already "know" all about it. You can see the dislike, dismay and almost fear in the eyes of some of them and this hurts, I'm afraid.

I agree wholeheartedly that most education occurs outside the classroom and there is not a lot we can do about this.

Allow me to be a little idealistic and want better for today's children than I myself received: a sad mix of hard core biology and carry on films!

Francis said...

So, what's your favourite Chameleon track?

Francis said...

I find it hard to believe that there can be many childen who haven't been exposed to the idea of sexual intercourse by the time they are 14. They don't know 'all' aobut it but may well think they do. The dismay in their eys could well be because of the thought of their parents 'doing it'. I'm still dismayed at the thought (but grateful they did!).

No, we can't prevent playground talk but we can correct it and try to get over the smutty nature. Which brings us to...

...Good old Carry On. It all sees so innocent compared to stuff that is routinely shown before the watershed.

Rita said...


Re: The Chameleons.

It depends, "In Shreds" is still one of the best singles ever released. If it is about remembering good live performances, then "Nathan's Phase" or "View from a Hill" .

However, if I want to get back to the Manchester that only exists in my head, the one containing the old Arndale Bus station and cafe, Victoria station before it was done up, the hills before the ruddy wind farms started sprouting up, the decay and shabbyness that existed before it became a trendy retail experience and the old Free Trade Hall....then it has to be "Monkeyland".

I don't like going back to Manchester anymore, especially since they pimped my football team. It is all seems so sad and so shallow.

Francis said...

In Answer and Childhood (from the 3rd album) are among my favourites.