Via wh00ps, I find this story in the Times, about new curriculum guidelines for sex education. Oddly enough, the headline reads ‘Pupils aged 11 to learn about gay sex’ (a pathetic attempt to outrage and obfuscate if ever there was one), but the lead paragraph says:
Compulsory sex and relationships lessons for 11-year-old children are to include classroom discussions on gay unions and civil partnerships. Secondary pupils will learn about contraception and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), while primary school children will learn about their bodies and friendships, a review of sex education has concluded.
So far, so good. Discussing contentious issues like same-sex relationships is something schools ought to do more of (although I have little hope that ‘discussions’ in this context means anything more than indoctrination and guilt-trips: 11-year-olds are particularly impressionable, and they will certainly absorb from authority figures simplistic ideas like ‘People who disapprove of homosexuality are eeeeeevil’) – and children should be taught about changing mores, because obviously learning about society is part of the process of maturation. Secondary pupils to be taught about STIs and contraception – fine, fine, get on with it: it’s about fucking time somebody threw contraception into the mix (see: the Fucking Stupid Initiative). And hey, why not teach little kids about friendships and bodies? It’d be pretty damned stupid to try to hide from them the fact that… they have friends and bodies.
But that first paragraph is about the sum total of sense in the whole article.
The review was ordered in October after ministers announced that sex and relationships education (SRE) lessons should be made compulsory to help primary and secondary pupils to “navigate the complexities of modern life” and to ensure that children learnt their sex education from the classroom, not the playground.
First of all, who is going to be teaching this stuff? Because if it’s people like me – and after all, I am a teacher – I could probably witter on about warm-fuzzy civil unions, the clap, and condoms as well as anybody else, but relationships? Not saying I’ve never had them, and not saying some of them haven’t been good. To use a simplistic example, however: that I have a foot (two of them, in fact) does not qualify me to teach podiatry students about feet. And believe me, a teenager is the equivalent of a podiatry student when it comes to relationships (so, at least, your average teenager will claim).
Anecdotal evidence: wildly off-topic in a class of 12-year-olds this afternoon, one pupil asked, ‘Men and women in relationships are always complaining about each other, so why don’t more of them go out with members of their own sex? It seems like it would solve a lot of problems.’
I was about to pontificate that same-sex couples do whinge about each other, all the time, when a different student butted in: ‘It’s not that men and women don’t get along. It’s that, when couples fail to compromise, they complain about each other. And because there are more heterosexual couples than not, their common complaints are more prominent.’
12-year-olds, people. They should be teaching me about relationships.
Second, whence comes this strange duality in the minds of policy-makers (and, apparently, Times reporters) that sex can be learned about from one of two places, the classroom or the playground? What in the name of bleeding Jesus do parents do in this country any more? They don’t educate their children about anything, so now the school must, in addition to taking on the fairly Herculean task of forcing academic information into the minds of youngsters, explain to the children how to be human beings, at the expense of the taxpayer. The state pays for the children’s upkeep in the form of child benefit, at the expense of the taxpayer. The state pays for and provides the child’s early learning, at the expense of the taxpayer (SureStart). Are there any parents out there reading this who would care to explain just what part of the upbringing process you did participate in?
Or perhaps this is the state’s usual practice of undermining the role of the parent in a youngster’s life. Contrary to what we might think, it is not the state that is the brainwasher of the youth, oh no, but the parents who, if left to their own devices, would raise a generation of racist, homophobic, fundamentalist-creationist-terrorist-fascist Nazi skinheads, the sheer chavvy-looniness of whom would quickly overrun the civilised world. Of course nobody learns about sex at home! All the parents are too busy urging Origen-style abstinence on the boys and showing the girls how to sew their vaginas closed because if they ever, ever, ever indulge in the natural human urge, let alone use contraception in the process, GOD WILL DESTROY THE EARTH! And then recreate it again in an instant so he can DESTROY IT A SECOND TIME! to punish humanity for its corrosive sexual immorality.
The changes to personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE) classes mark the culmination of decades of campaigning by sexual health organisations, who believe that the patchy nature of sex education in schools is helping to fuel a record level of teenage pregnancy and STIs in England.
I can tell you right now that these PSHE lessons are utterly useless. The pupils at my school loathe them. They are taught by middle-aged types whose knowledge of economics in particular wouldn’t fill a thimble, and whose own obvious personal, social, and health circumstances do not always inspire confidence or imitation (in the same manner as, for example, a poor stockbroker or a bent cop). So nobody listens.
However, poor sex ed is not the ‘fuel’ for Britain’s levels of teen pregnancy and STIs. The ‘fuel’ is a culture in which parents do not have to look after their children (and, therefore, do not have to think long and hard about whether or not to produce one) and healthcare is ‘free.’ Eliminate child benefit and charge people for visits to the GP (but keep funding contraception and abortion), and that teen-pregnancy-cum-disease-of-Venus level will plummet like Gordon Brown’s approval ratings.
Sexual health charities warned that allowing parents to opt out, even if it involved only a small number, was an infringement of young people’s rights. Julie Bentley, chief executive of fpa, formerly the Family Planning Association, said that while religion and sex education were not incompatible, schools should not be allowed to interpret the report “to mean they can tell young people, for example, that contraception isn’t a matter of choice – it is simply wrong”.
She added: “We would like further assurances that when SRE becomes statutory, all schools will teach it responsibly, ethically and factually as a core subject.”
Ponder the irony of Julie, who insists unequivocally that contraception is a matter of ‘choice’, saying so in the same breath as a reminder that, soon, sex ed will become statutory, i.e. not a matter of choice.
Some dude called Simon is a bit less dogmatic:
Simon Blake, national director of the sexual health charity Brook, said: “Young people need to understand the law – that you can get contraception, that you can have an abortion – and understand the health benefits of practising safer sex. It would not be right for anyone to tell them that this is wrong, but it is OK for them to be told that some people believe it is wrong.”
Thanks, Simon. Glad to know it’s ‘OK’ to tell children that some people disagree with the social engineers.
The Catholics are on side with my gripe about parents v. the state, as I knew they would be:
The Catholic Education Service for England and Wales welcomed the opt-out. “This is a crucial right in a community where parents are the first educators of their children, because parents are responsible for bringing up their children, and not the State,” it said.
And yet, even for the Catholics, parents are only the ‘first educators of their children’ until they teach something out of line with Catholic dogma, e.g. the ability to prevent pregnancy humanely is the single most important development to enable women to progress along the path from property to personhood. (NB: dogma and doctrine are not the same thing.)
Sir Alasdair [MacDonald] said that making PSHE compulsory would help the quality of teaching. “There is probably greater variability in teaching and learning in this subject than in most other subjects,” he said.
Wow. That has to be the first time anyone in the gravy train that passes for education administration has ever admitted that ‘greater variability in teaching and learning’ might actually ‘help the quality of teaching.’ Pity, then, that they continue to put would-be teachers through the automatonic, one-size-fits-all, routine torture of the PGCE. [UPDATE: No, just kidding. Clearly he is saying that making the subject compulsory will allow the government to standardise the teaching of it, thus decreasing that pesky ‘variability.’ Let this be a lesson to you all in reading the words of state mouthpieces optimistically. Cunts.]
Just proof that, apart from the bit contained in the decent lead paragraph, this whole ‘review’ (as well as the Times article) is a massive load of wasteful, nannying, pointless bollocks, dreamed up and lobbied for by fpa, formerly the Family Planning Association (clever re-branding there, no?) and Brook (fake charities, anyone?) to create make-work jobs advisory consultancies for their members and put a bunch of pushy lefty bastards right-on hipsters into cushy pensions teaching jobs that brainwash guide children in ‘navigating the bullshit complexities of a delusional socialist utopia modern life.’
[UPDATE 2: Brook is indeed a fake charity:
In fact, Brook has been doing rather well under New Labour. Its income from the government has doubled since 2004. Its 2008 accounts show a total income of £1,456,832, of which:
* Department of Health grant: £86,000
* ‘Other government grants': £433,517
* Total £519,517 (35.6% of all income)
It also received £534,259 in ‘other grants’. If, as is not unlikely, these grants emanated from local or central government, its total state funding would be at least 72%.