Values in Sex Education: From Principles to Practice

By J. Mark Halstead; Michael J. Reiss | Go to book overview

Chapter 3

Children's voices and children's values

Why it is important to listen to children
At the end of the previous chapter we wrote of the need to listen to children's voices as they talk about their own sexual values and attitudes, the influences on their thinking about sex, and their perceptions of their own developmental needs in relation to sex education. There is a growing trend in some areas of educational research to value children's perspectives and to support their right to be heard (John 1996; Alderson 2000; Bosacki and Ota 2000), but this trend has not been a major feature of research into sex education until recently. We argue that there are in fact many reasons why we should pay attention to what children say about sex and sex education:
• Children can clarify what they want to learn in sex education (and when and how they want to be taught it). Of course this is not the only factor sex educators should take into account in their planning, but, if nothing else, pupils' motivation will increase dramatically if planning does take account of their self-determined needs and wishes.
• It is difficult to ensure that sex education is 'tailored not only to the age but also to the understanding of pupils' (Department for Education (DfE) 1994) without some insight into children's existing attitudes, values and conceptual schema.
• If children tell us about the sexual understanding and values they have already picked up, this helps us to predict how they will experience and interpret the sex education they are given.
• If teachers are to help children to reflect critically, it is helpful to have some knowledge of the values, attitudes and understanding that they have started to pick up in the course of their everyday lives, and of the main influences on those developing values.
• Other sources of information about children's sexual values (such as teenage magazines) are mediated through adults and therefore defined in adult terms or in line with adult values. Sometimes this is inevitable

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Values in Sex Education: From Principles to Practice
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Figures ix
  • Acknowledgements x
  • Part 1 1
  • Chapter 1 - Why Values Are Central to Sex Education 3
  • Chapter 2 - Diversity and Change in Sexual Attitudes and Values 15
  • Chapter 3 - Children's Voices and Children's Values 31
  • Part 2 55
  • Chapter 4 - Liberal Values 57
  • Chapter 5 - Pleasure, Recreation, Health and Well-Being 70
  • Chapter 6 - Religious Values 86
  • Chapter 7 - Family Values 107
  • Chapter 8 - Love 120
  • Part 3 135
  • Chapter 9 - Aims for School Sex Education 137
  • Chapter 10 - Frameworks for School Sex Education 154
  • Part 4 169
  • Chapter 11 - Sex Education in the Primary Phase 171
  • Chapter 12 - Sex Education in the Secondary Phase 188
  • References 205
  • Index 227
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