Naming of the teeth versus naming of the genitals…


Tonight I found myself briefly teaching my three year old, canine, incisors and molars and the difference between baby and adult teeth. Not because I am some insanely pushy mother but because she is always asking and wants to be able to name every part of her body and she can already name all the obvious ones and the less obvious ones (tonight she informed me “my throat is in my neck Mummy” and I don’t remember teaching her throat!)

Recently she has been very interested in nipples and the fact that males also have nipples but don’t have breasts, but she doesn’t have breasts but has nipples but she knows she isn’t a boy. She is aware boys have a penis and that she has a vulva and both have a bottom. She also knows that grown ups have pubic hair. None of this has ever fazed her and has been entirely led at her level when she asks a question (which she does all the time!) she gets an age appropriate response.

I was amused that I was teaching her year4 primary science curriculum in the new draft curriculum which mentions naming of body parts skilfully avoiding mentioning the genitals yet then goes on to specify the exact teeth (and digestive organs etc.) children should know. It also fails to make reference explicitly to puberty (although one might infer from the section on “life cycles”).

I’m a qualified science teacher married to an engineer so it’s a given the littlest Ukations are going to be science geeks, but tonight bought it home to me quite how badly the draft science curriculum doesn’t really meet children’s needs. They want to know what each part of their body does and what it is called. They want to know why their mummy has breasts, and how their baby sibling came into the world, they want to know the differences between boys and girls, why grown ups have hair where children don’t, why mummy sometimes bleeds. They want to know about why people get sick, about blood, vomit, poo and wee and why they need to wash their hands after going to the toilet. This can all be done age appropriately and at a level they can understand. It is basic human biology. Most parents will be happy with these conversations, others might not be/need more support to understand the aims of the lessons, some might need support to gain confidence in these conversations and that is okay and understandable, but I can’t seriously be the only parent who wants kids to be able to name penis/vulva (basic body parts) without shame or embarrassment before they can label a canine, incisor or a sodding molar (more advanced body parts)*!? Or am I!?

*P.S Sorry dear preschooler you may now be very bored in a Y4 science lesson 6years from now given that you know your teeth.
P.P.S Sorry future teacher of my child but I’m available for any SRE support you need ūüėÄ

Why Michael Gove is WRONG about SRE/PSHE


I read this yesterday and was apopleptic that yet again this government are possibly heading on a course that will again do a massive disservice to our children and young people.  Not only are children and young people disproportionately affected by the cuts but they seem to lack basic understanding about what children and young people actually need.  (Not suprising when the secretary of state for education has never actually been a teacher or worked in a school or with young people. Sigh.)

Michael Gove seems to be labouring under a massive misapprehension that distracting kids with academia will distract them from thinking about relationships and/or sex or risky behaviour! UM what planet is this man on!? ! Was he never a teenager himself? (Don’t answer that- I suspect the answer might be rude ;))

In my experience of working with children and young people, they are far from the underage sex/obsessed drink fuelled hoodies the media would have us believe. ¬†They are wonderful, sensitive, passionate, articulate soon to be adults. ¬†They are desperate to¬†succeed¬†in life – but for them¬†success¬†comes in more ways than academic success- success for them is often being popular, having a boyfriend/girlfriend, having lots of friends etc. Being a teenager is a HARD path to navigate, with lots of pressures and temptations to negotiate, most of the time these pressures and temptations occupy alot of the teenagers mind (this is different to saying kids are obsessed with sex- I don’t think they are!). ¬†Ask any pastoral leader in a school in this country about what the most of the problems they deal with are and it will be bullying, behaviour, friendship or relationship issues, often the academic stuff comes second to all of that.

That’s the most frustrating thing about all of this- a student who is being bullied, or who has broken up with a partner, or who needs to get the morning after pill somewhow is next to useless in a lesson on any subject. ¬†Until that problem is sorted THEY CANNOT AND WILL NOT LEARN EFFECTIVELY. ¬† What they need is more not less PSHE and SRE to help them to navigate life- to help them to deal with stress, to help them know where to get help if they are being bullied, to help them know where to get the morning after pill, to help them to be more assertive and confident and so on and so on. ¬†It is no coincidence that schools where PSHE/SRE is central to the schools ethos tend to have higher academic¬†achievement. ¬†Because ¬†the students in those schools are supported so effectively they are able to learn and thus academically achieve.

That isn’t rocket science- that’s very basic understanding of human nature and learning, what a shame our Education Secretary seems to lack understanding of both.

ūüė¶

P.S But to cheer me up I am very heartened to read this about one incredible young person, fighting to stop 71% youth service cuts. Amazing- and you know what? I bet it was his PSHE/Citizenship lessons that gave him the information and confidence to start this.

A leetle bit of a rant about the PSHE Review


Sigh.

I’m a very busy girl at the minute, I work, I volunteer, I write, I parent etc etc. and I think many of you reading this (especially the teachers on first week back after half term) are in exactly the same position.

I have had “COMPLETE PSHE REVIEW” on my to-do list for ages now. ¬†It’s due at end of November. ¬† I genuinely meant to blog sample answers to help people filling it in and all sorts, but having looked and looked at the DfE consultation documents¬†I simply do not have the time to go through and do any of them justice because there is just so so much I want to think about and write and say and rant and shout and ARRRRRRRGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHH why did they have to make this such a complicated process? (and the cynical part of me wonders if this is deliberate- I mean if even me- “Ms. Completely Obsessed by all things PSHE” is really struggling then “Mr/Ms.Takingavagueinterest” aren’t going to bother are they?)

Now I am also bemused as to why PSHE needed to be entirely separated out of the rest of the curriculum review process as it is still a subject that forms part of the curriculum- it doesn’t really need special treatment. ¬†I am also bemused as to why we are having ANOTHER review? The joys of a new government throwing the baby out with the bathwater- so much amazing work has already been done reviewing PSHE (in particular SRE) so why on earth are we not building on from this and actually improving things? But no we must now go back to consultation stage just because we have a new government in power. ¬†Sigh sigh sigh.

But anyhow although I needed to rant about this the wonderful PSHE Association have come to my rescue with helpful surveys and events I can feed into (but survey closes tomorrow so hurry up!).  The lovely  Sex Education Forum have also launched a survey and held events. Plus I know organisations like Mumsnet, British Humanist Society etc are also planning on formulating responses, so rather than getting stressed about not having time to feed into review as an individual, feed into it as a member of your organisation- strength in numbers and all that- the most important thing is to try to feed into it somehow no matter how busy you are-no excuses- myself included!

*bossy face*