I see that the old idea of teaching young kids all about sex has reared its ugly head again. In this case, they’re talking about teaching five-year-olds the ins and outs of intercourse, ostensibly “to give them the skills and confidence to delay sexual intimacy until they are ready”.
Honestly, I can’t see this making the blindest bit of difference to anything. My father went to a lot of trouble to teach me about the birds and the bees when I was about five, with all sorts of wall charts and diagrams and pretty much everything short of a hard-core porn movie. I suspect that it might have been because I had discovered that my “ding-a-ling” had some other sort of use apart from “making a wee-wee”, although it wasn’t clear what that use might be. I still vaguely remember the discussion, or rather, lecture today.
But it had no real impact, other than making me wonder what kind of people those were, because they looked like they were in a horror movie, you could see their insides. I certainly did not connect it any way, shape or form with my adolescent, wide-eyed games of “you show me yours and I’ll show you mine” or “doctors and nurses” or “spin the bottle”*.
I had certainly long since forgotten it completely when, as a teenager I knocked a girl up. The irony of it all was my mother’s outrage, “after all the effort they’d expended teaching me the facts of life”. Unfortunately, as amateur pedagogues, my parents hadn’t divined that the lessons were entirely divorced from my experience. The wall charts and discussions could just as easily have referred to a different species or an astral plane as far as I was concerned – especially at the age of five. They quite simply didn’t mean anything. And when my dad asked if I had any questions, I just said “no” and went outside to play. Even when I was ten or eleven, I’m not sure the technical discussion would have had any more impact.
And I did biology up before to GCSE selection level (blood and dissection held no appeal for me!) I am quite sure that we covered reproduction, because I vaguely remember sniggering with the rest of the class at something vaguely embarrassing. But I just didn’t associate that with what I did and felt and experienced.
Worse still, when you’re an imbecilic teenager and the hormones are coursing through your system, it’s very rare that anything like learning or common sense will intervene in your favour.
I have come to the conclusion that it’s mostly a combination of luck and accident that there are not more pointless teenage pregnancies. And I can’t really see that there’s much that any teacher can do in that awkward, sterile classroom that will change anything for the better. Parents should (and probably) do teach their children as best they can but the little monsters will insist on things like “doctors and nurses” anyway. It’s human.
Personally, I’d rather they focused on things like reading and writing and chasing kids round a track to wear them out. Let them come out of school smarter and with their energies spent on sport and the like and leave them to find the rest out the hard way.
*I was very precocious, sexually, which is why I look so haggard. I’m actually only 23.