It was not long ago that I had the opportunity to be the teaching assistant for the local university’s human sexuality professor. I’d say he’s in his in his mid forties and has been teaching sexuality since the early nineties. His teaching also consists of using research articles from the nineties! While having the opportunity in 2010 then again in 2011 for my practicum to facilitate seminars, I found myself being the new and upcoming sexuality educator, who needed to bring sexuality education back to the future!
How important is keeping ourselves “with it” and cutting edge? The majority of us have had the opportunity to purchase that assigned book made in the 80s because nothing new has been published. There is obviously value in original research, but there comes a time where having students discuss an article published by Sanders and Renisch (1999), which asks students to identify an event in the late 90s that started a public debate on whether or not oral sex was sex, becomes dated. This is because the majority of these students were roughly seven years old at the time! I was 12 myself, and I wasn’t able to recall the answer which was the Monica Lewinski and Bill Clinton scandal.
As sexuality professionals, Taverner (2006) suggested to “try to expand your reading to equip yourself with greater dimension in understanding the field of sexology. I have heard this recommendation from both emerging professionals who are surprised at how little their fellow students read non- required books and fail to keep up with the news, and from expert colleagues who recommend reading that will enable you to understand the background necessary to become a leader in this field. Read about history, social issues, cultural issues, and psychology” (p. 3).
While this professor sounded amazing back in the mid 90s because he was keeping current to create his original curriculum, he failed to continue to make continuous updates to bring his curriculum up to speed. Asking students to conceptualize Mazur (1986) focusing on the trends in female beauty from the 1950s to 1980s, was great, but was missing three more decades of trends. A great example is women starting to be more muscular which was a trend that was more prominent in the 2000s. Nonetheless, it was my job to go over and above and add these important tidbits so that students felt the information was relevant for them in 2011.
The importance of updating one’s curriculum is crucial. Of course, I know I will never know it all, but if planning on talking at conferences or teaching sexuality in secondary and post secondary institutions, I believe that using more current research will help to identify with students and will help with building a better report. I cannot express the number of times these students found the articles boring or irrelevant because of the time frame of the dated articles. To be the best sexuality educator, no matter how busy, take the time and invest in subscribing or reading online journals in our field. Sometimes you are able to sign up for RSS feeds that keep you informed on which new articles are out based on your topic of interest. Review your curriculum at least on a yearly basis. While reviewing, assess if the articles you are citing are exceeding five to ten years and if so, see if you can find something a little more current that may better relate to the group you are educating for the time being.
Mazur, A. (1986). U.S. trends in feminine beauty and overadaptation. The Journal of Sex Research, 22, 281-303.
by Ashton F.