The birds and the bees. Do we teach it to our kids in schools, and if so, to what degree?
There’s been a bit of a buzz (pardon the pun) in the media of late about sex education, and whether or not the current provision is adequate to prepare our girls and boys and somewhere-in-betweens for sexual maturity.
The latest discussions have centred around whether there is enough real life emotion being introduced into lessons. It’s all very well knowing that (usually) Manifold A gets inserted into Sprocket B, but does this basic biology really equip you for proper sexual encounters?
At first, I applauded the idea of introducing sex AND relationship education classes. After all, when I went to school, we weren’t taught any life skills. Nothing we learnt was given any relevance to real life. I was fortunate enough to have a mother who taught me life skills and coping mechanisms that have helped me enormously, but we shouldn’t and can’t assume that every child is receiving that kind of parenting, and children should absolutely be taught more skills that will help them lead happier, more fulfilling lives.
That said, the idea of being taught how to have a relationship by a Government employee strikes me as a little dystopian. After all, how can you teach individual humans what they need and how to have an emotional relationship using a national curriculum?
Sure, there are some basics – being punched on the nose: BAD, receiving a nice cuddle: GOOD, but then what? There wouldn’t be a multi-billion Pound/Dollar/Yen industry in relationship advice (books, radio shows, counselling, etc.) if there were one sure-fire method of getting, sustaining and more importantly enjoying a relationship.
Can you imagine the impact on the arts if some clever bod in parliament discovered the formula for true love and all of us lived happily ever after? There would be nothing but Saturday Kitchen and The Feeling.
So what’s the solution? While I agree that a more holistic approach to sex and sex education is a must, I can’t for the life of me figure out how they will effectively teach these skills to our young ones.
Another concern of mine is that this will be yet another means of drilling in gender stereotypes. After all, what does the Right Honourable Michael Gove know about characters such as The Female Player; The Sensitive Boy Who Writes Secret Poetry; The She-Male With A Penchant For Bovine Fellatio? Nope – I reckon we would see classes reinforcing traditional ideas of weak, emotional females and boys will be boys antics.
I could be wrong. I hope I am. But I think the only way it will work will be to give teachers much more autonomy, and pray your kid’s got a good one (teacher that is). Otherwise you may as well sit the class in front of Sex and the City for an hour and a half each week and hope for the best.