Friday, 11 March 2011

In favour of 'Um, er, well, if I explain it like this...'

Here's a great attention-grabbing article!

Reading it certainly suggests the state is following an imperative to teach the language of sexual practice to younger and younger kids. I don't know why.

I read some theorists who tell me that early sex education is as sinister as you can imagine it to be. That there is a clandestine network of pedophiles linking the judiciary, administration, education, all society, who need access to children. They need children to be as aware as possible about sexual pleasure and totally without modesty or inhibition when it comes to exchanging it.

The theorists say, of course the people who need access to kids must shift the availability of children to their favour; they must do away with social prohibitions, redefine social morality, and simply provide kids with a clinical language for sexual trade. Schools are places of social control. What else should we expect?

I read others who say it isn't pedophilia driving the course. It's money. Any child, any age, is a consumer. If society can be organised in ways that increase consumption of items we can make on a renewable basis, then every child must be made willing to take part. Making children self-conscious about their bodies, defined for them at the convenience of the markets, is merely one step along the way. Centralised markets and global brands will benefit. Kids from Japan to Ireland, via their consuming parents, can be sold must-have jewellery, branded padded bras, and three pairs of shoes for every occasion, better from babyhood.

Of course anyone can put these theories in the same nest as David Icke and his lizards. It's up to you.

Me, I feel a little resentful that the state assumes sex education is theirs by right at all. I think it's my duty. For a start, I want my children to grow up finding out about intimacy at their own individual pace, thanks very much. Not because it was already agreed at the summit on education and employability to order it on the tick-box curriculum for their year group.

Then I resent how the state behaves as if only their mechanisms are trustworthy enough to give the language of sex to my child. Actually, minister, I think I trust myself to talk about intimacy, love, sex, modesty, shyness, pregnancy, abortion, emotions, commitments. (Uh? I'm a grown up!)

But there's the point. I guess the only way a teacher can effectively 'deliver' the sex curriculum in a classroom is with the same plodding monotone used for any other anatomical circumstance, like sound vibrations banging the ear canal.

I'm bolshy. I wouldn't accept that. I want my children to hear my language wrap sex around with value, ambiguity, hesitancy, delicacy. A few ums and ers. I want my children to hear me find a way of talking, and with words that convey emotion, modesty, shyness, chivalry. I'm not going to describe sexuality devoid of those values.

I'm far from advocating ignorance. I want my children to be aware how people can talk of sexuality, from poetry to anatomy. I, as a parent, and the woman who gave birth to them, want to take my responsible place in that spectrum.

Likewise, I want each of my children to take control over their own unique places and identities within that range. I want them to take their time to find their own voices, discover their own ways of talking, and seek a language that is truly theirs. I want them to develop a language that they can feel empowered by, and be responsible towards.

Wrestling with these fundamental issues, thinking through a who-you-are, I believe is part of what makes a unique human being know themselves.

Well, you can bet this subject of sex education in school makes me feel glad that my kids don't go there. To some extent, we're going to bypass this particular problem, and do things our way, finding out as we go, what best to do, making it up. Um, as usual.


MadameSmokinGun said...

My eldest 'did' sex education at school at 5 years old. One other concerned mum decided that if she excluded her boy, he'd only hear a version of it from the other kids in the playground and so he might as well get the original version. This kind of made sense but I still asked the teacher what the deal was. She spoke of 'them' and 'they' - 'they' didn't do this as young where she'd been before so it must be a regional thing but 'they' seemed to think that learning the 'proper' words for body parts this young was sensible as a couple of years on they'd be giggling but at this age they just accept it. To be fair this teacher was saying this in such a way that she was obviously not over-pleased with it all herself. I ended up standing back - kind of agreeing with the other mum. I must say I never heard a peep from my daughter but if she's anything like me she was probably staring out the window thinking about noodles anyway...

Now I mostly do leave it to inappropriate telly and the older boy who has apparently been telling all the younger ones all sorts. I'll 'tidy up' later. We have had some funny questions lately and we do our best. What's S & M was the latest. Daddy and I kind of took turns in saying what we thought might sound right and then he finished with 'Mummy loves it'. I then proved it by slamming the frying pan into his plums. See? Responsibly parenting - it does happen.

Business Writers said...

I think the phrase you want is institutionalised grooming - that's what it increasingly sounds like to me (without or without a deliberate conspiracy the results can still be the same).

ladybirdcook said...

it's an interesting topic, isn't it? There are so many issues involved, depending on which family, which child, which culture we're thinking about. For us it was right, because of who we are, to present 'where babies come from' as one, fairly factual, subject but also open up a dialogue (over years!) about pleasure, sensuality and, as the children got older, sexual pleasure and whre to draw lines. I also made sure that little ones knew what was private and what wasn't, who could look where and when one says no. It seems to work. For us.
I wouldn't want school to be the only source of information for my children (on any subject!) but I think it's important for those kids who, for whatever reason, would not get factual information from home. Doesn't a totally clear and factual sexual education protect them?

Jay said...

This made me as mad as fire when my boys were in school. I have absolutely no ambiguity on the matter; sex education covers a lot of moral and ethical issues and it is the parents' right to deal with that, not the school's or the state's job. I have heard the arguments, the biggest of which seems to be 'well, some people just don't teach it/don't teach it properly'.

So? Since when has it been policy for everyone to be treated the same as the lowest common denominator? I am deeply offended by such 'strategies' and I personally consider the teaching of sex eduction in schools at a too-young age to be a form of corruption of the innocent.

Which is exactly what they say they're trying to prevent!

Penny said...

Such a tricky one! DH is a secondary school teacher and his department covers sex ed. I agree that ideally it should be left to parents, but if you met some of the parents of his pupils... Really, in many cases, they'll get it better from the school. It's not ideal, but then, many families aren't either.
The main problem is, I think, that it's a case of, 'You're thirteen now, so it's time for sex education,' whether or not individual children are ready for it. I know my daughter would have been traumatised to have been told about AIDS at the young age they're doing it in schools.
We home educated and everything was explained lovingly when the offspring were ready for, and wanted, the information.

Gweipo said...

Actually I was quite happy about the fact that my kids school DOES sex-ed (some international schools in HK don't) and that they'd outsourced it to LEAP who know what they're doing and are specialised.
That the shared the age appropriate curriculums per grade with the parents so we knew what kind of questions to anticipate.
As it was all happening in Chinese, I decided to make sure there was no misunderstanding due to language issues, and bought them a couple of books each which we went through at home. "where's willy" is a fabulous book for kids, no nonsense, a little humorous and to the point.
Funnily enough now they know the facts, it's just matter of fact now, no silliness or nudge nudge wink wink stupidity.

Grit said...

hi all, thank you for your comments. i am unsure how the range of parental preferences can be met via a mass throughput system as provided by school. school would have to change fundamentally to truly cater for individual requests.

and gweipo! no nudge nudge?? NOOOOO! A fundamental basis of British comedy collapses in an instant! bottoms are funny! it is how we know we are British!