Thursday, 12 July 2018

Ontario's New (Old) Sex Ed. Curriculum

What a time to live in North America, to live in Ontario, where we now have our own version of Donald Trump. The similarities, the same simplistic thinking is scary and shocking.

The Ford government's decision, to revert back to the 1998 sex ed curriculum is so short-sighted. While watching an interview with a local teachers union representative, I was reminded of just how complicated this whole process really is. Doug Ford thinks you just make the decision and bingo, it's back to 1998. This teacher rep got me thinking about more logical questions like:

Where are the 1998 curriculum documents?
Teachers are just now trained on the 2015 curriculum. No doubt teachers have been creating their own carefully thought-out lesson plans,to achieve the objectives of the curriculum. Do those all get tossed?
Do teachers include any of the new material?
How do they answer students' questions, when students are now faced issues that didn't even exist in 1998, like sexting and cyberbullying?

The social conservatives that Ford is pleasing say that parents weren't consulted about the new 2015 document. "Wrong" said then premier Wynne, during the election campaign:

"It's just not true," she told reporters at an event in Toronto. "Parents were consulted. Psychologists, psychiatrists, police, people who live in communities and are concerned about the safety of young people were consulted."
About 4,000 parents, as well as child development professions, were given an opportunity to weigh in on the changes to the curriculum, Wynne noted."

And who do we have now, at the helm of Ontario schools, as we make this sudden shift in direction? The new minister of education actually has no background in education. Lisa Thompson is a goat farmer! I kid you not!
In a July 11th memo she did a good job of parroting her boss. "I can assure you that help is on the way. We will be working hard to better prepare our kids for the challenges of work and life."

However, I digress. What's an Ontario parent to do, in this confusing situation? As the social conservatives say, sex education is a parent's job. That's true but at best, parents should be discussing at home, what is being taught at school. Parents and teachers should always be partners in education. If possible, parents might want to latch onto a hard copy of the 2015 curriculum or download a copy while it's still on line. 

As a grandparent (and retired teacher) it would be handy to have a copy. There are all kinds of issues that my grandchildren will have to face, that I'm simply not familiar with. I'd like to be able to answer their questions accurately, with well thought out materials. I'd like to take advantage of the years of research, consultation and expert advice that went into the creation of the 2015 document. It's a scary world out there and keeping these materials away from teachers, students and families is putting students at risk.

Doug Ford would have us go back to the good old days. How many novels have we all read, where children were sexually assaulted because of their lack of knowledge? How many real life tragedies have occurred because children didn't have the basic facts, and never had a discussion with an adult, about appropriate touching or consent.? How dare he discard the progress that has been made in teaching this important area of the curriculum? 

But hey, at least I'll be able to buy beer at my corner store - that's what's really important.

July 21 Update
Click here to read David Reevely's Ottawa Citizen article on this issue.

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