Saturday, 25 October 2008

Birds and bees....

. I have seen a fair bit of commentary about the governments new sex education proposals. Agnes Poirier writing for the Guardian's Comment is Free feels that a compulsory schooling in romantic love should be part of the curriculum. Meanwhile, Carol Sarler in The Times feels it should all be nuts and bolts but there is no place for teachers in wider teaching of relationship skills. Of course, this debate wouldn't be the same without a hysterical family-loving leftie bashing outing from Conservative Home.

Dealing with Conservative Home first; I am happy to report that my family taught me nothing about sex and that my parents relationship and eventual divorce was an object lesson in how not to handle a relationship. Quite frankly, I think it would be fair to say I am not the only person whose parents should have been the last people to teach them about relationships. It is thus not;

"Even common sense should tell that government that parental responsibility needs to be encouraged not undermined."

So, it's blind faith in the family and parents is as wrong-headed as blind faith in the government and the state. It is made especially so when it is my (fair I think) average guess that this is the last thing teenagers want to discuss with their parents.

In contrast, Sarler argues;

"There is no sensible reason why a child of any age may not know which bit goes where; indeed, stick it to them as ruthlessly and factually as is possible"

She has a point that relationships can be somewhat subjective but on the other hand we all know that ability to understand and empathise with different points of view starts relatively young (and in some paradoxically seems to vanish later in life) so her argument doesn't convince me. The danger with Poirier's argument is that teaching an ideal will lead to disappointment for the majority who never find that ideal (and rather arrogant glee for those that do).

I would suggest that such education should always about providing guide-ropes rather than standardised solutions because ultimately sex and relationships learning is done primarily through experience. Support is needed; sites that offer such advice are insanely popular but it should be non-judgemental and supportive; helping people through their experiences and to learn from them rather than from a list of do's and dont's.

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