The work of a[ human sexuality educator], I propose includes all that is proper for a human, and is one in which all men who are born into this world should share… Our first wish is that all persons should be educated fully to the maximum capacity of humanity; not only one individual, nor a few, nor even many, but all humans together and single, young and old, rich and poor, of high and low birth, men and women- in a word, all whose fate it is to be born human beings; so that at last the whole of the human race may become educated, men and women of all ages, all conditions, both sexes and all nations. Our second wish is that every man and women should be wholly educated, rightly formed not only is one single matter or in a few or even in many, but in all things which perfect human nature.
John Amos Comenius
The Great Didactic, 1632
Excerpt from Crisis in the Classroom, 1970
Education is an ongoing journey. As any weary traveler can contest, the road to the most desirable destination can have many challenges, self-discoveries and feelings too powerful to fully understand. The same can be said of education. Learning can be riddled with feelings that can only be summed up as painful. Yet, it is also a process of self-awareness and growth. This growth is both physical and intellectual. Taking this into account, I see each student as a unique individual searching for sustenance while making a pilgrimage through life (Sears, 1992).
As an aspiring sexuality educator, I serve as the nutrient to stimulate growth for learners. I have a responsibility to those that I meet. That is, I have a duty to adapt to each and every student. The role as a facilitator of learning does not entitle me to treat a student as a number, a test score or a test of my abilities. Rather, I am being allowed into a student’s mind to nurture growth and I recognize that this is a privilege that I must respect. Therefore, I am not only teacher but also a student of that student’s story. His sharing allows me to grow, and perhaps, in return, I am helping him to grow. In prescribing to a modified constructional model, I try to allow each student to search for his or her strengths and likes. My goal is to teach tools for future endeavors. Making a connection to something relevant in the student’s life may feed a hidden passion. In meeting the students’ desire for knowledge, I am fully aware of the fact that I am the passenger in the student’s journey (Hedgepeth & Helmich 1996).
Everywhere in society today, newspaper headlines, evening news shows, talk radio, and local town meetings, the public is bombarded with the message that students cannot read and graduates cannot compete in the world market place with graduates from other countries. Over and over the message sent is that all these conditions would change if teachers would just teach and force children to learn. The failure of this simplistic solution is that it does not recognize the multiple pressing issues that learners carry with them into the classroom. Today’s sexologist is responsible for possessing more than mastery of their respective content area in order to be successful educators ( Eggen & Kauchak, 2006). Upon observation of the most homogenous student populations lie hidden diversities, which make teaching the masses a task for the most hardened educator. Thus, there is no one designated way to create a learning environment. Teaching eschews prescribed ideas about normalcy, which are most often subjective, dated, and ethnocentric. A good sex educator is able to bridge educational, social, and emotional gaps in order to produce successful members of society—sex positive and sexually healthy. Yes, there are as many good sexuality educators in our schools as there are varieties of good apples in our supermarkets ( Reinhartz & Beach, 2004).
The first quality of a good teacher is the ability to acknowledge and validate each student. This concept seems very basic; however, with the demographics changes within many of traditionally homogenous school districts, teachers are faced with the challenge of meeting the needs of an ever-growing diverse population. This diversity comes in the form of socioeconomics, English as a second language, and ethnicity. It is imperative that sex educators acknowledge these differences and adapt their pedagogical perspectives to embrace the richness of a heterogeneous student population. Teachers must be dedicated educators in order to embrace this quality because one must be a lifelong learner and continuously grow as a professional educator in order to meet the changing needs of the American student (Breuss & Greenberg, 2004).
The second quality of a good teacher is the ability to guide a student through the learning process. In years past, teachers have relied on the one size fits all formula for educating American children. With the expectation of memorization and recitation as a measure of competence in a given content area, many students were left behind. As a result of this deficit, sexuality education needs to look beyond the test scores and inspire children to learn. To do this effectively, educators must take ownership of what they are doing or not doing to facilitate learning in the classroom. When sex educators stifle the students’ ability to grow academically by forcing a status quo classroom culture, the learning process is severely hindered (Reinhartz & Beach, 2004). Thus, sexologists must take the time to focus on the strengths of the student and motivate students to capitalize on their assets
The third quality of a good teacher is acceptance. Too often, teachers assume that their perspective is the only appropriate view point. This can be problematic for a student who is from a different culture or socioeconomic group ( McCollum, 2010). Rather than criticize a student for thinking that appears “out of the box” it is important to consider culture and embrace the diversity of perspectives. A good teacher is able to focus on the strengths of a student and not be critical of the student’s social status.
In today’s complex educational world, simply being a content expert does not make for a good sex educator. A quality educator is at the mercy of creating a quality culture for learning that considers a student’s socioeconomic and cultural background in order to ensure academic success. We strive to bridge the educational, social, and emotional gaps in order to produce successful members of society who are sex positive and sexually healthy. While each child and sexologist represents a good apple, it is their shared flavor that makes all the quality of the great American pie.
Breuss, C., & Greenberg, J. (2004). Sexuality education: Theory & Practice (4th Ed.). Boston: Jones & Bartlett.
Brown, J., Keller, S., & Stern, S.( 2009). Sex,sexuality, Sexting, and SexEd: Adolescents and the Media. The Prevention Researcher. 16(4), 12-16.
Eggen, P. D., & Kauchak, D. P. (2006). Strategies and methods for teachers: Teaching content and thinking skills. Boston: Pearson.
Gilbert, G. C , & Sawyer, R. S. (2000). Health education: Creating strategies for school and community health. Boston: Jones & Bartlett.
Hedgepeth, E. & Helmich, J. (1996). Teaching about sexuality and HIV. New York: NYU Press.
McCollum, S. (Fall 2010). Country Outpost: Teaching Tolerance, 38, 32-34.
Reinhartz, J. & Beach, D. (2004). Educational Leadership: Changing School, Changing Roles. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Sears, J. (1992). Sexuality and The Curriculum: The Politicss and Practices of Sexuality Education. New York: Teachers College Press.