Human Growth and Development (Sex Ed) is the last unit of the quarter. Before I get there, I want my students to view this unit in context of their future hopes and dreams because ultimately that is where our emotions lie. I have never experienced a student who wrote down low, negative or horrible hopes and dreams. Their dreams are always high, good and beautiful. An important part of my student’s tests are cost/benefit analyses of their choices. The big question is “What would it cost me (the individual student) now, 10 years from now, 20 years? What would be the benefits to me? Would the benefits to me be worth the risks and the sacrifices?” When it comes to the decision making about drugs and/or sex, I want the students to think about what they want most in the years to come instead of what they want now. (Usually what we want now is not as good or as beautiful as our hopes and dreams. In fact, what we want now gets in the way of achieving hopes and dreams.)
Future orientation, hence encouraging kids to think, write, visualize themselves in the future is referred to as to think past the sale, a well- known technique of persuasion (that I don’t inform the kids about). An example of thinking past the sale is, you go to look for a new car and after a while the sales guy begins talking about “would you like the car/van in red or blue and look at all the storage for trips”. If you begin discussing the color of the car and how comfortable it would be on a long trip, you are seeing yourself in the car thus you are thinking past the sale and are about to make a decision. A decision that you believe is best for your future wants.
A big part of our health curriculum (nutrition, sex, drugs, and rock and roll) is the decision making between the healthy choice or the cool culturally approved unhealthy choice. When the individual student is imagining a personal cost and/or a benefit to them and their future, it creates an emotional tension because they are engaged in the question. People make decisions based on emotion (an example: fear-I don’t want that, I want him/her/them to like me), they justify their decision with facts, an excuse or an alibi. Facts, statistics are an important first layer of truth. I follow this up with literature such as Ben’s Story, Judy’s Story, Appointment with Love or with music “I Love the Way You Lie” and Tell Me About Rap. These activities facilitate (smooth the way to) a discussion where students begin to think about/question what they previously thought was OK for today. Within these discussions, always point them to the human desire to ultimately do what is good and what is beautiful in action and thought and what they won’t regret or be ashamed of later. Kids know and understand shame, because we all have experience it sometime in our life. To your parents (or teachers, friends, employer) would this be viewed as a beautiful thing if _________knew? This is thinking past the sale which is short for, it’s 24 hours after I did this dumb thing I’m so ashamed of and I don’t want anyone to know I was so foolish and craven.
The units taught before Sex Ed are The Difference Between Men and Women and What is Love. As a result of the sexual harassment events dominating the news as of late and the resulting #MeToo movement, I believe these topics need to be included in our curriculum to facilitate good decision making.
• Boys and Girls are physically, biologically, emotionally and psychologically different. I believe our students need to learn what these differences are in preparation for a healthy relationship between two people.
• Many of our students have not experienced/seen the dynamics of a two-parent family or a committed relationship (just Mom and the latest boyfriend). They have grown up in a computer age where many of their relationships are online pretend relationships not flesh and blood give and take, you before me relationships. Yet, there is still that desire to be loved but that fear of the consequences of getting too close. I believe before Sex Ed, there needs to be a discussion of: What is Love? Our students need to know where the line is between Love and Selfishness. When there is no confusion where that line is, there will be good confident decision making.
My next blog will discuss the difference between men and women.