Friday, March 20, 2015

Changing the Curriculum

Months ago, Kathleen Wynne proposed guidelines for sex ed in Ontario, and many parents are still furious.  A group called Campaign Life Coalition has put quite a spin on it all.  In grade one, kids learn all the correct names for all the parts of their body. CLC calls that "graphic lessons on sexual body parts." And at grade three, when kids learn about fluid gender identity, they call it "normalizing a mental disorder." The teachers will also "normalize homosexual family structures without regard for the religious/moral beliefs of families." Piece of work.

Wynne tried this before, but backed down because of parental concerns. But this time she's forging ahead. I hope she stays the course. As a parent, I want all kids to know their bodies and understand the diversity of people and family structures so that difference isn't fodder for bullying - like it sometimes is in Queen's Park. Some kids don't have understanding parents to whom they can openly ask, "Why did Billy call me a c*nt?" Little kids know a shocking number of words for their body parts already; wouldn't it be great if they also learned the right ones? And as a high school teacher, I see the results of kids being ostracized throughout grade school. We need this education to start as early as possible.

My spin on it is that some parents are protesting because they want to maintain bigoted views through the next generation of children, and the education system is stymying their efforts. Knowing about sex doesn't make kids have sex, but knowing about "no means no" could help prevent sexual abuse.  We worry too much about the lost innocence of children through education unwilling to acknowledge that many lose their innocence though ignorant information on the playground - and sometimes from home. We need kids to know the correct information before they hear too much misinformation.

But wouldn't it be amazing if Wynne also revamped the environmental science curriculum to start at grade one? Imagine if little kids understood that climate change is real, and caused by people. What if we told them, at school, that they could help save the world by walking instead of driving, by turning the A/C off and the heat down, by eating tofu dogs instead of meat by-products dyed pink, and by reducing the amount of toys they buy?

When the blue box recycling program was introduced, kids heard about it at school and went home to guilt their parents into recycling.  It worked! When I was a kid, school was all about preventing littering, and that worked too - but once it stopped being a concern, it stopped being taught, and now kids will toss wrappers on the ground without a second thought. I had a young boy try to convince me that it's okay he dropped his garbage because the wind will just take it away. When we stop teaching it, they stop learning it.

Can we combat our current crisis by getting children on board with the nag factor forcing parents to walk to the store every time?  Yes, there will be an outcry from parents who think the school board is shoving a belief system down their children's throats, but we can just forge ahead with the plan for the benefit of everyone. Earth is quickly becoming inhospitable to life, and we are sadly running out of time for interventions.

ETA:  Here's what one 6-year-old had to say:

1 comment:

WILLY said...

Yes and Yes.

I am trying to raise awareness about climate change with my 8 yr old granddaughters, as well as reducing the need for new toys each month to replace ones that were hot last month e.g. ShopKins.

Unfortunately it will probably end up being another "Its just your Granddad's thing".

Getting some help from our Education system would help.