Values in Sex Education: From Principles to Practice

Values in Sex Education: From Principles to Practice

Values in Sex Education: From Principles to Practice

Values in Sex Education: From Principles to Practice

Synopsis

Sex education is rarely out of the news. Despite this, there exist surprisingly few studies of the principles, policies and practice of sex education. This book provides such an examination, focusing on the values to which children are exposed in sex education. Sex education inevitably involves the transmission of values, regardless of whether this is intended by teachers. Throughout the book, academic and professional literature on both values and sex education is reviewed and discussed. The authors look at the implicit liberal values, which underpin programmes of sex education, and at the challenges presented by the diversity of values in contemporary society. The book also considers: * Why values are central to sex education * Children's voices and children's values * Religious and family values * Achievable aims for school sex education * How to help young people to reflect critically on the influences to which they are exposed and on their own developing sexual values * How to build values into practical approaches to sex education at both primary and secondary levels. This timely book will help all those involved in sex education to steer a path between controversial and often opposing views and will be essential reading for students on PGCE and BEd courses. It will also be a valuable resource for teachers and professionals involved in teaching sex education such as teachers of personal and social education, form tutors, heads of year, school nurses, health workers and academics.

Excerpt

The central argument of this book is that values permeate every aspect of sex education in schools. It is impossible to plan or put into practice any programme of sex education without reference to values, though some-times the values may not be brought to consciousness and made the subject of reflection. The selection of aims for sex education involves explicit or implicit value judgements, and so does the selection of content and method. The decision to provide sex education in the first place is based on the assumption that it will be valuable for children. We shall argue further that sex education involves the transmission of values, whether or not this is conscious and intentional on the teacher's part, and whether or not the values are actually accepted by the students.

In some respects, sex education is just like other subjects on the curriculum: it involves the transmission of information; it contributes to the development of personal autonomy; and it seeks to promote the interests of both the individual and the broader society. In other respects, however, sex education is quite different. It is about human relationships, and therefore includes a central moral dimension. It is about the private, intimate life of the learner and is intended to contribute to his or her personal development and sense of well-being or fulfilment. It generally involves intense emotions, to do not only with intimacy, pleasure and affection but often also with anxiety, guilt and embarrassment. In all of these respects, values are involved. We can decide what information merits transmission, what the interests of the individual and of society are, or how to reassure young people, only by making value judgements. Of course, young people recognise this, almost intuitively. As we shall see later, if students are asked what they want to learn in a sex education course, questions of values figure very highly on their lists.

Most serious books on sex education nowadays acknowledge the importance of values, though many give the topic of values in sex education comparatively brief attention before moving on to what they present . . .

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