How was it for your lesson?

15th October 2004 at 01:00
The latest piece of research on sex education (page one) is a reflection of wider issues. We know girls appear to enjoy learning more than boys, whether that emerges in their adeptness at passing exams or engagement with sex education. More accurately, what girls do better is deal with the form of learning that is presented to them in schools.

This may be at the root of some of the findings in the sex education research, which opens up larger questions. Sex education, as we have observed before, is bound to be challenging for teachers, calling on all their reserves and talents in getting the best out of children. Not all are going to be successful in handling an area of the curriculum which is sensitive, not least since it is highly personal for each child and every teacher.

Teachers need to deploy humour, a range of strategies and discipline, as the study suggests. This is not, of course, confined to sex education: it is good teaching. But good teaching requires effective vehicles and, as recent reports from Inverclyde and HMI have demonstrated, pupils are not convinced that personal and social education is that vehicle. Like schools in general, some classes are successful and some are not. Sex education, perhaps more than any other area of the curriculum, reaffirms one of the central reasons: teaching matters, but so do teachers.

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