(picture from http://www.askmen.com)
This post was prompted by an interesting incident in my 11 year old son’s schoolfriend’s life. Though only in the sixth standard, with lots of girls showing interest in him, his parents were dumbfounded when their son actually received three letters(in addition to earlier emails) at their residential address from some girl. Amusing though it was, they actually didn’t know how to deal with the situation. His mother remarked, “ My daughter is almost double my son’s age but I have never had any problems with her. Since when have girls started chasing boys like this and that too at such a young age”.
Incidentally, my son studies in one of those schools which is very particular about preserving Indian culture. It reminded me of an incident at the parent teacher’s meeting a few months ago when a mother complained that she didn’t know what to say when her daughter told her about a senior boy and girl smooching in class.
The funniest incident occurred with my wife, a nursery school teacher when some tiny tot who was also known to some mutual friends actually said ,”She is sexy” on being asked “How is your teacher?” Height of “catch them young” I would say.
One almost feels like going back to school and reminds of that song “Koi lauta de mere bite hue din”
Just a couple of days ago, in the Sunday Times( 15/10/2006), in an article “Orissa teachers coy about talking birds and bees” , Arabinda Mishra says that Teachers in Orissa are reluctant to impart sex education and the dangers of AIDS to their students because they find words like condom, sex and intercourse too unpleasant to discuss in classrooms. Under pressure from the HRD ministry, a chapter on AIDS was introduced as a part of social studies for students of IX and X but the teachers were so uncomfortable discussing it that it was withdrawn. Since then, it has been a tug of war between the teachers and the bureaucrats of the HRD ministry. The Orissa Aids Cell had prepared the chapter in consultation with experts but could not convince the teachers. Orissa has had a spurt in AIDS cases but the teachers found the topic to embarrassing to handle.
A few months ago, there was a similar article in a magazine advising parents on how to go about imparting sex education. It was also somewhat amusing but the fact remains that before imparting an education of this type, the teachers themselves have to be specially oriented if not trained. The teachers however do not seem to be too inclined it seems.
The gates of this impasse can be penetrated by no less a man than Bill Gates himself. Though he has not mentioned the word “sex” anywhere in his book Business@speed of thought, some of the extracts(relevant to online education from the chapter connected learning communities) seem to be written for the current situation:-
“Most teachers have a great love of learning and they will get excited about anything that will help kids learn. What teachers don’t want is to be thrown into something they have not had the opportunity to learn about and be comfortable with”..
This exactly describes the Orissa situation..
Elsewhere, Mr Gates writes, “ An important reengineering principle is that companies should focus on their core competence and outsource everything else. “. Though this book was written a few years back, these days , it is not uncommon to find reports on homework of American kids being outsourced to India. Why then should teachers or for that matter parents take the onus of sex education when it is not their core competence and requires specialized knowledge imparting skills?. Why can’t it be done by the computer to the extent possible? As it is, on line education is all about the best teachers producing the best content and making it accessible to all, not just their classrooms. This is true for all subjects and the added advantage is that the computer can both innstruct and demonstrate and therefore make it more comprehensible.
One more extract from the Book also fits the bill “ One of the most forward looking ideas is to use the PC to offer a variety of ways to learn. About fifty different major theories identify similar attributes. Some people learn by reading, some by listening, some by watching someone else do a task, some by doing the task. Most of us learn from a combination of all these methods. “Any subject can be personalized according to the learning style of the student. What a unique way to know about sex.
It is also given that “ A highly motivated student can learn from different reading materials, where a poorly motivated student needs accessible materials such as a video to learn”. Well, considering the subject matter, I would not be surprised if a majority of students turn out to be poorly motivated. One should also discuss the motivation of the teacher here. Off and on, one gets to hear things like how teachers have not exactly taken a liking to computers and there is resistance to change. Now, if you give them a Hobson’s choice- either teach sex education directly or through computers, I think you can kill two birds with one stone and do away with the resistance to computers problem forever.
The children can also ask the uncomfortable questions on line and get their answers. With the way broadband services are improving, why a multi-media sex education initiative has not been taken surprises me. Such a move can live up to that saying in Hindi “Saap bhi mar jaaye or laathi bhi na toote” . Why not? Especially for those who find it too difficult to handle. It can also be a combo strategy- the computer can give the basic orientation and certain doubts cleared by parents/teachers.
I had read in a book how a father, on failing repeatedly to get his son to wash his hands before eating finally took him to one of his doctor friends. The doctor briefed the child on what germs were, gave a display under a microscope and topped it up by showing a video film showing explicitly what could happen if he didn’t wash his hands. Thereafter, the child never had to be told to wash hands. Another doctor had told me similarly that to prevent people from smoking, they should be shown video films of lung cancer patients and apprised of other problems they could face with advancing age when health becomes more and more precious. This is the “Without, danger, you cannot go beyond danger” that I have advocated in my earlier posts.One cannot have a wishy-washy,ambiguous, half hearted approach to AIDS(or other adverse effects of pre-marital sex) . It must be significantly scary to create an impact.
There are many who feel that teaching sex education at a young age in school is both awkward and undesirable as it may prove counterproductive. Many others are of the view that such an education is not in accordance with our culture. Such issues are best addressed by an expert.For those inclined to know more,let us have it from the horse’s mouth. These are two best articles by renowned sexologist, Dr Prakash kothari.They address AIDS, awkwardness of parents and teachers, influence of television etc among other things and vindicate the introduction of sex education among students:-
Today)17/10/2006), it has come in the papers how children are becoming more violent because of influence of Television. Whether it is sex or violence, one has to follow Osho’s philosophy “ To remove darkness, one has to bring light into the room and not take darkness out of a room”. The right knowledge has simply got to be introduced in the right manner and spread as fast as possible. .
The fact that “Child is the father of man” applies now more to sex than anything else can be proved by this joke:-
The teacher at the beginning of the class says: “OK kids, we are going to talk about sexual education today. First we’ll talk about how the human reproduction goes on…” Immediately, little Johnny raises his hand, and desperately tries to get the teacher’s attention. But the teacher, knowing how little Johnny is about these things, goes on… “… First, a man a woman have to be in love… ” But little Johny keeps his hand up, waving it up and down, and from one side to the other one. The teacher ignores him..”..They have to be very much in love because…” But now little Johnny even starts making noise with his feet, so the teacher decides to acknowledge him: ” OK, little Johnny. What do you want to say.” Little Johnny then stands up, and says: “I just wanted to ask. Those of us who have already f****d, can we leave?