A column about history, culture, policy, and things in between.
The recent discussion on the topic of oral sex, in curriculum intended for eleven year-old students, is representative of this.
I absolutely believe that any potentially recommended curriculum would be tempered, and presented under the umbrella of abstinence. There would be no lurid or detailed depictions of certain acts, and certainly no advocacy. And given this, I can recite all of the arguments as to why this might be a sensible step. I just don’t agree with those arguments. I believe there is a larger point to be made when considering this topic. It is a point of our culture and our individual responsibilities, more so than one of education.
Are we to get so caught up in the more mechanical aspects of this debate that we can’t take a step back for a moment, and see how far we have come? Twenty years ago, if someone had told you that this topic would be considered for the 6th Grade, what might your reaction have been? And given that, where might we be twenty years from now?
By all means - let’s calmly debate the relative merits of such programming, and let’s consider our community’s list of pros and cons. But as part of that discourse, let’s include the question of how effective America’s educational system has been in this particular area. And lets consider where our own responsibilities as parents and citizens lie.
As for me, I do not see the merit of such content. I do not suggest that we can, or even should shelter our kids from such matters. On the contrary - my wife and I talk about them with our kids whenever we deem necessary, or whenever they ask. But to use a sports analogy, such critical discussions are like “crunch time” in a basketball game. And when it comes to crunch time on matters of our children’s social and emotional welfare; I want the ball in the hands of only two people.
This is not because Barb and I doubt the competence or intentions of our school staffs. Rather, it is because no one knows our kids like we do, and no one else is as committed to their welfare and their development.
It is also because we want to present such information in an overall context of human sexuality and relationships that is not permitted in our schools.
Is this really so unreasonable?
If not, then maybe it’s time to take the frog out of the water.