18th March 2016 at 00:00

Using satire to counter extremism

Critiquing sacred texts and satirising religion are both ways to prevent extremism among pupils, according to a new paper. Lynn Davies, of the University of Birmingham, examines the role of education in preventing pupils from joining extremist movements. She suggests that the best way to protect pupils, without introducing heavy security into schools, is through inclusivity, active citizenship and encounters with difference. She also recommends using humour and satire, and critiquing religious texts.

The funny side of sex education

Humour can also be an effective way of teaching pupils about sex, academics have found. Robert Gordon and David Gere, from the University of California, Los Angeles, studied sex education sessions delivered by the Sex Squad. A group of US university students working in collaboration with the Los Angeles school district, the Sex Squad performs monologues, sketches and musical parodies for pupils between the ages of 13 and 15. The academics found that using humour and music helped to improve the effectiveness of sex education lessons. It also reinforced the relationship between sex and fun.

Being open about pleasure

In an unrelated study, academics suggest that teachers should be able to teach about sexual pleasure and desire during sex and relationships education. Debbie Ollis, of Deakin University in Australia, points out that school-based sex education tends to focus on the prevention of infection, pregnancy and abuse. By contrast, it rarely mentions pleasure, intimacy or desire. She therefore looked at what happened when trainee teachers were given instruction on how best to discuss sexual pleasure with pupils. She found that this increased their confidence and willingness to celebrate intimacy and sexuality during sex education lessons.

How inequality stifles social mobility

The higher an area’s level of economic inequality, the less likely disadvantaged pupils are to feel that hard work will lead to better earnings, academics have found. Melissa Kearney and Philip Levine, both from the US National Bureau of Economic Research, point out that places with higher levels of income inequality tend to have low rates of social mobility. They suggest that, in such areas, low-income pupils tend to assume that their own hard work will achieve little reward. The academics recommend that this fact should be taken into account when designing interventions to promote social mobility among disadvantaged pupils.


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