Putting the R back into SRE- as a teacher and a mother.


A bit of a teacher twitter discussion last night about being good at the S but not at the R (the current hashtag #whatsexedtaughtme is interesting to follow).  In schools sex and relationships education can often focus on the sex stuff and not so much the relationships stuff and I thought it would be timely to unpick this a bit more in a blog post.

Firstly teaching about sex is so much easier than teaching about relationships as so much of it is based in facts.  You have facts about contraception, facts about STI’s, facts about reproduction etc etc.  Whereas relationships is so much harder concept to teach as facts are really limited in this area and its more about teaching about certain relationship principles such as trust, honesty, communication, negotiation etc etc and the trouble is that even us wise old adult teachers and parents are still grappling with many of these principles in our own relationships so no wonder it’s quite hard for us to cover it well with students.

Also lets face it- Sex is inherently interesting to young people (and everybody!), Sex Education lessons are the ones where you can almost guarantee every student is interested, on task and you will not have any behaviour management issues (so long as you have set the lesson up right and are working withinthe ten basic tenets) whereas relationships being such wooly concepts can often be quite dry boring lessons and can give the subject a bad name.

So how can we sort out these relationships lessons?  Well firstly I do think there is an issue with Relationships education falling solely within SRE (and I blogged some further ponderances about that here) as they are such huge concepts and actually they don’t just fall into the remit of SRE (although obviously they are important here) but they need to be universal- modelled by parents, teachers, family, friends etc.  If we want to teach young people how to listen we need to listen to them.  If we want to teach young people how to respect each other we need to respect them and so on.  I’m not saying these are easy things to just do overnight but I think we do need to recognise that relationships education is universal, continuous, ongoing and heck we are all still learning about relationships everyday until we die, so it’s not like we can simply come up with a quick fix curriculum.

I was thinking about what I want to teach my own daughters (one toddler and one due in January!) about relationships.  I want to teach them to stand up for themselves, to communicate their wants, feelings and desires but also to listen and respect other people’s.  I want them to be happy and not messed around and to be able to recognise and walk away from negative relationships. I want them to be able to deal and manage changes in relationships and understand that relationships can be flipping hard work but can offer so much.  I want to teach them all of these things but I’m not sure how or if I can achieve this with them.

I have so many relationship lesson activities in my repertoire, some awesome, some boneachingly dull so I have decided it is time to take some time to sort them out and at some point soon I will try and blog some ideas.    This post is a “coming soon” post as I want to take some time to gather thoughts and ideas from other awesome educators and write a bit of a humdinger of a post. But in the meantime for the insatiable impatients  amongst you there is always “A dozen ways to explore what is love” I blogged about last year.

Please do comment on this post if you have any fab innovative ideas for how to explore the lofty concepts relationships with children and young people.

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2 thoughts on “Putting the R back into SRE- as a teacher and a mother.

  1. This is a really important topic, good on you for writing about it. I taught sex ed to 14 year olds from 1990-2003. I always began sex ed with communication, conflict resolution and decision making skills. Then moved into respect for diversity, didn’t make assumptions about partners, that sort of thing. My classroom had posters promoting local services, and a great series of posters supporting the skills of young mothers, and saying not to judge a mother’s capability or quality by her age. I made mistakes, and there are things I wouldn’t do again or would do differently (not show STI pictures, for example, and reinforce the semester of Yr 8 sex ed with more at yr 10 if I could) but overall I think I did a good job for the time and within the limitations of the time available. I was fortunate that I was allowed (took anyway) a good amount of autonomy, loved what I did and had students who mostly enjoyed the classes. I left secondary teaching when the manic and illogical behaviour of the principal was more than my mental health could stand, and just before he gave all health ed to the phys ed teachers, letting me know I wouldn’t be teaching it any more.

    But if we have good relationship and communication skills, it makes many aspects of life easier.

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