SK Curr. linked with Aboriginal perspective

What I have realized in the process (sort of an epiphany that has been brewing) is that we do have a fantastic curriculum but I strongly believe the issue is how it is delivered. I think teaching Sexual Health in a classroom would look quite differently depending on several areas:

a) life experiences. It is all about what is important to them and what they see as valuable. Would be very similar to current issues.

b) current issues in the community. Such as perhaps in a community where racism and sexual violence is prevalent the lessons would look quite different if the community was being challenged by high rates of teen pregnancy.

c) their interest (what they want/need to get out of these lessons). Students will clearly have questions or want to have discussions in a certain area and I would encourage that in my classrooms and the classroom itself would be a safe (of course unless abuse is disclosed), accepting and non judgemental place.

Another way to include an Aboriginal perspective would be using traditional teaching methods such as talking circles, including elders, etc. Another aspect that I believe would be important would be discussions about traditional healing and how that can be used to improve holistic health or to heal over past challenges/pain.

Here is a link to traditional healing. 

Here are some examples of how perhaps I would link the two:

Grade 8: Outcome: USC 8.7 Assess the social, cultural, and environmental influences on and supports for sexual health knowledge, attitudes, behaviours, and decisions. 

SK Curriculum Aboriginal Perspective
a. Compare the perceived and actual sexual attitudes/norms in the community. What do we believe about Sexual Health in our community? Why do we believe this? How did we end up feeling this way?
b. Locate and evaluate, according to student-generated criteria, both sources of and information about sexual health. Where do we find information? Do we have clinics/doctors/nurses in our area? Where can we find these resources? What about the internet? How do we find appropriate and accurate websites?
c. Examine influences that shape community norms about sexual health Discussion about media (and portrayal of women, opportunity for discussion about violence against women and Canadian statistics)
d. Compare sexual attitudes/norms of adults to those of youth in the community. Analyse stats and question why.
e. Determine the possible consequences of not knowing and questioning community attitudes/norms.
f. Examine how the social, cultural, and environmental influences may determine people’s knowledge and access to sexual health information. Focus on cultural aspect. Examples of Aboriginal beliefs on Sexual Health.
g. Examine and develop an understanding of influences on responsible sexual health decisions (e.g., family, culture,social, religion). Focus on cultural aspect. Examples of Aboriginal beliefs on Sexual Health.
h. Appraise the strategies of personal commitment (see grade7) that are required to commit to one’s standards and to respond to the social, cultural, and environmental influences. Opportunity for performance task about personal commitment. Eg write a letter to one’s self about beliefs,values, what you want/don’t want in a relationship, feelings, etc.
i. Analyze ways to support others and their dignity in decisions related to sexual health. (!!!) Large opportunity for inquiry based questions on supporting others and their DIGNITY. Discussion about peer pressure and decision making.
j. Analyze sexual health supports and services in the
community.
Discussion on resources available in rural communities and how this affects ones holistic health. Discussion on the impact of services (or lack thereof)
k. Determine how access to sexual health supports and services influence personal and community sexual health. Discussion on resources available in rural communities and how this affects ones holistic health. Discussion on the impact of services (or lack thereof)

 

Grade 9:

Outcome: USC 9.8 Assess the ways self, family, and community facilitate healthy living for people with chronic illness. USC 9.9 Develop and demonstrate the personal insight, motivation, and skills necessary to enhance and promote sexual health and avoid health-compromising sexual attitudes and behaviours.

SK Curriculum Aboriginal Perspective
a. Examine personal attitudes about sexual health. Personal activity 0r ability to have small or large discussions.
b. Acquire knowledge that is appropriate for students’ levels of development, and directly relevant to their own sexual health needs including: an informed understanding of sexuality, prevention of sexual health problems, including pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), enhancement of sexual health. Focus on “homework at school” approach where students learn information at home and come to school prepared with questions or areas where they struggled. Ability to use social media to facilitate learning eg Twitter for questions. Assessment opportunity, performance task or quiz. Factual information IS important however does not need to take up the majority of the lesson time.
c. Analyze abstinence as the healthiest and safest sexual choice for young people. Remind students STIs can still be shared skin to skin.  Discussions, what is abstinence, abstinence meaning different things for different people.
d. Discuss sexual health choices that reduce the risk of health-compromising consequences. Visiting healthcare provider, (possible discussion re contraception)
e. Assess how to raise, discuss, and negotiate sexual health issues with partners. Decision making, how to say no. Many opportunities for performance tasks.
f. Evaluate the potential outcomes of sexual health attitudes and behaviours. Major focus on Sexual Health affecting ALL areas of holistic health.
g. Determine how attitudes and behaviours may interfere with or enhance sexual health. Major focus on Sexual Health affecting ALL areas of holistic health.
h. Clarify personal standards (see Grade 6) that influence sexual health decisions. What are personal standards?
i. Examine the strategies of personal commitment (see Grade 7) that are required to commit to one’s standards/decisions related to healthy sexual behaviour. How do we stick with our personal standards? What challenges may we face?
j. Articulate the influence of alcohol and other drugs on sexual attitudes and behaviours. Current statistics on Aboriginal Health. Inquiry based questions on colonialism, racism, and what makes us healthy or unhealthy.
k. Determine the personal benefits of taking action to enhance sexual health and prevent/reduce sexual health problems.  
l. Use self-knowledge and understandings to promote sexual health with family, friends, partners, and community. Performance task opportunity focussed on community health and project based learning.
m. Determine the behaviours and local resources/supports that can help to attain positive sexual health outcomes. Where do we find resources? Discussions of programs available, where to find support, and how not enough support can hinder sexual health.
n. Establish a common and informed understanding of differences that exist in relation to sexuality and determine what differences are respected and protected in Canadian Human Rights legislation.  

How would you include an Aboriginal perspective using these indicators?

-Janelle

 

What have I been lacking in my practice?

I believe I have been lacking several major aspects when I have taught Sex Ed in the past.

1. TIME! One thing being time, it is so hard to find time and the most time I have had was 5 hours to teach Sex Ed and that would have been all they would receive. Even in that 5 hours, I missed one class due to something more “important” coming up (I obviously say that in a joking manner..) and there were always 25% of students missing during the lesson time, which made assessment very difficult. It is hard to find ways to teach all the SK outcomes when you have so little time.

2. Encouraging abstinence. What I think I lacked especially was telling students not to have sex. I told them they will make their own decisions that are right for them, etc but I never really said the words “don’t have sex” and I wish I did. I don’t particularly think it is my place to say that however I really don’t think many other people in their life would say that to them.  I think I am encouraging that because a lot of these students probably are wanting to become sexually active for the wrong reasons. They also might not have had the opportunity to think critically about their values/beliefs. In the classes I have taught, I didn’t have the opportunity for conversations about their challenges, beliefs, etc. Discussions are something that I find really valuable in teaching and that’s what I love to do with students to really facilitate inquiry but I didn’t have the opportunity to really do that as much as I would have liked to in my lessons because we were too “busy”. I hadn’t really thought or discussed with my students about those important questions: “What can comprehensive Sex Ed mean in a sexualized and sexist world? In a homophobic or misogynist world? What can abstinence approaches mean in a sexualized/sexist/homophobic/misogynist world?” I was too busy following curriculum (which is also important). Although I think my teaching did include those topics on some surface level, it wasn’t really “unpacked”.

Another area that was completely overlooked was an Aboriginal perspective. I am really excited to have explored it and to continue to explore.

In short, I would change my teaching practice in these ways:

1) Focus on conversations. Let them go over the facts at home. There is absolutely no reason I need to discuss 10 different types of STIs instead of having an inquiry based and meaningful conversation about standards and decision making. Check out this video about doing “homework in the classroom” :

.

2) Say NO to old resources or resources the school already uses. Stick with your gut, if you think you can do better without those resources then don’t use them but instead find others that actually meet the needs of your learners.

-Janelle

Need for culturally relevant education (Aboriginal)

I realized I hadn’t posted anything about why I chose to take my project in the direction of an Aboriginal perspective. First I want to be clear that this coming from my white perspective and I don’t want to make it sound as though I am somehow an expert on Aboriginal values, beliefs, traditions etc. I do however think providing culturally appropriate/relevant education is extremely useful and inclusive, especially looking at current stats in SK with our Aboriginal people and the challenges they are facing. There is a clear need for support. This project will look at Health from an Aboriginal perspective, which is also amazing to include into any Health lesson (or any lesson for that matter!! Hello interdisciplinary lessons!!!) and it doesn’t need to be labelled as “Aboriginal”. If you look at the Renewed SK Health Curriculum, it looks at Health from a holistic model, versus a medical model (based on absence of disease).

I believe it will also be valuable in my own teaching to look at Aboriginal resources and become knowledgeable about their beliefs on Sexual Health. I think it also allows for conversations about colonialism, racism, society and cultural norms.

I might be biting off a lot to chew but as you can probably tell I am really passionate and excited:).

Please comment!

-J

Do I need permission?

What I really don’t seem to understand is the fact in many cases teachers need to get permission from parents before teaching Sex Ed. I have never seen a Math teacher send home a permission slip before teaching fractions, have you? Why should Health be any different? Curriculum is essentially a legal document that tells teachers what they need to teach so why is it that Sex Ed is the one part of the curriculum where students can be excused from? One of my peers were told (by their superior) that they need to send home permission slips and those permission slips that don’t come back from parents, their child can’t be apart of the lesson. One boy wasn’t involved in any of the learning for those lessons, therefore not only feels like an outcast from his peers but most likely still remains curious and would have benefited from learning with his peers. Although not all schools function this way, some definitely do. A lot of times it isn’t necessary to send home permission slips but it would encourage building a positive relationship with parents and involve them with learning. It would also allow parents to have those types of conversations with their children at home and facilitate an open line of communication between parent and child. The issue isn’t that I believe teachers necessarily should be providing this type of education to their students but my issue is that these students need to be receiving this of education from one location or another. The battle between parents versus teachers teaching Sex Ed would need full post! Another post I hope to make in the future is about faith based institutions and if they are providing a sufficient amount of Sexual Health Ed, in other words, if “abstinence is the only option” is meeting the needs of students.

Would love to hear your thoughts.

By the way, here is a great sample letter from Sexualityandu to send home to parents before talking about sex with their child.

-J

Sexual Health in SK Curriculum

Now for the purposes of my Critical Project, I will discuss where my thoughts are now and what I plan to look at. The Saskatchewan Health Curriculum has been renewed and it looks at Health in a holistic way, body mind and soul (or in other words mental, emotional, physical and spiritual). Health is interconnected and each aspect will affect one another.

Here are some outcomes in the Saskatchewan Curriculum that can be used while teaching Sex Ed.

saskcurr1

Grade 8:

Outcome: USC 8.7 Assess the social, cultural, and environmental influences on and supports for sexual health knowledge, attitudes, behaviours, and decisions. 

Indicators:
a. Compare the perceived and actual sexual attitudes/norms in
the community.
b. Locate and evaluate, according to student-generated criteria,
both sources of and information about sexual health.
c. Examine influences that shape community norms about
sexual health.
d. Compare sexual attitudes/norms of adults to those of youth
in the community.
e. Determine the possible consequences of not knowing and
questioning community attitudes/norms.
f. Examine how the social, cultural, and environmental
influences may determine people’s knowledge and access to
sexual health information.
g. Examine and develop an understanding of influences on
responsible sexual health decisions (e.g., family, culture,
social, religion).
h. Appraise the strategies of personal commitment (see grade
7) that are required to commit to one’s standards and to
respond to the social, cultural, and environmental influences.
i. Analyze ways to support others and their dignity in decisions
related to sexual health.
j. Analyze sexual health supports and services in the
community.
k. Determine how access to sexual health supports and services
influence personal and community sexual health.

Other Outcomes are DM 8.8,  8.9 and AP  8.10

Taken from the Health 9 document:

Sexual health is a major part of personal health and healthy living. Human sexuality research emphasizes abstinence from all sexual activity involving risk as the best and healthiest decision for adolescents. Research also indicates that students who decide to become sexually active now or in the future need information about effective protection against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. Substance abuse preventio that emphasizes abstinence from substance use and abuse is the only safe, healthy, and legal decision for adolescents. Individuals who decide to use substances now or in the future need information about the harms associated with substance use/abuse and strategies to reduce these associated harms (e.g., designated drivers).

HIV/AIDS education deals with the personal and sometimes sensitive issues of interpersonal relationships, sex, drugs, and death. Students come to Saskatchewan classrooms from diverse backgrounds and bring with them a range of values and ideas about these topics. Students may live in traditional families or non-traditional families. Some may be hesitant to share ideas and join discussions. It is important to respect the diversity of students’ backgrounds, needs, and interests.

The topic of homosexuality may arise during discussions about HIV/AIDS. In accordance with Saskatchewan‘s Common Essential Learnings (e.g., Personal and Social Development), educators must remind students that all people deserve respect, and that classroom discussions are to be free of stereotyping and prejudice. Within HIV/AIDS education, it is important to focus on prevention, transmission, support, and treatment rather than focusing on particular groups of people. With HIV/AIDS, it does not matter who you are; it matters what you do. Some students may have friends or family members who are HIV positive, are dying, or have died of AIDS. For those students, information on supporting friends or family who are living with AIDS, death, and dying may be of importance. Appropriate resource people and community agencies can support both teachers and students.

Grade 9:

Outcome: USC 9.8 Assess the ways self, family, and community facilitate healthy living for people with chronic illness. USC 9.9 Develop and demonstrate the personal insight, motivation, and skills necessary to enhance and promote sexual health and avoid health-compromising sexual attitudes and behaviours.

Indicators:
a. Examine personal attitudes about sexual health.
b. Acquire knowledge that is appropriate for students’ levels of development, and directly relevant to their own sexual health needs including:
• an informed understanding of sexuality
• prevention of sexual health problems, including pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
• enhancement of sexual health.
c. Analyze abstinence as the healthiest and safest sexual choice for young people.
d. Discuss sexual health choices that reduce the risk of health-compromising consequences.
e. Assess how to raise, discuss, and negotiate sexual health issues with partners.

f. Evaluate the potential outcomes of sexual health attitudes and behaviours.
g. Determine how attitudes and behaviours may interfere with or enhance sexual health.
h. Clarify personal standards (see Grade 6) that influence sexual health decisions.
i. Examine the strategies of personal commitment (see Grade 7) that are required to commit to one’s standards/decisions related to healthy sexual behaviour.
j. Articulate the influence of alcohol and other drugs on sexual attitudes and behaviours.
k. Determine the personal benefits of taking action to enhance sexual health and prevent/reduce sexual health problems.
l. Use self-knowledge and understandings to promote sexual health with family, friends, partners, and community.
m. Determine the behaviours and local resources/supports that can help to attain positive sexual health outcomes.
n. Establish a common and informed understanding of differences that exist in relation to sexuality and determine what differences are respected and protected in Canadian Human Rights legislation.

Other outcomes DM 9.10, AP 9.12

My next steps will be going through several Aboriginal resources, looking at trends and examining the major differences of curricula and how it can be implemented using primarily these two outcomes.

-Janelle

“Life is the art of without an eraser”

I believe a lot of my experiences really shaped my passion for Sexual Health Education. In highschool, the Sex Ed portion was completed in a block of Math, and those in advanced Math missed Sex Ed. Once again, we are telling our students what we value in school. What I remember from Sex Ed was scenarios and maybe some information on STI’s but what I fail to remember is those meaningful conversations with my peers and teacher. Maybe I fail to remember it because it didn’t exist. Can you remember your Sex Ed courses? What were they like? One thing I do remember was a girl a year younger than me getting pregnant and somehow it clicked in my mind that this might be something I was interested in. This was a girl who I knew since I was young and we played sports together and now her life would drastically be changing. She ended up leaving school, I’m not sure if the rumours were true that she couldn’t attend since she was pregnant or if she chose to leave. But either way, I started reflecting on who was really accountable. Once again, it was her actions however did the education or health system fail her in some way? This is where it all began.

Years later, I was completing my internship and one of my  students became pregnant. Once again, those thoughts began to fill my head. Are we providing relevant and meaningful education? Are our programs failing youth? How can we change this and where do we begin? This was a young, bright girl, who was always energetic and now she would also be faced with one of the biggest and perhaps life changing decision of her life. Even though I found this to be quite difficult and somehow felt accountable I did see a lot of other really positive attributes at this school that would facilitate healthy Sexual Health education. I want to be clear that Sex Ed, isn’ t necessarily looking at anatomy, STIs and pregnancy but it is about decision making, relationships and current issues. At this school, they had a wonderful Integrated Health Centre, and when looking at Sexual Health Ed. it had the opportunity to provide a very unique experience for students. They could pick up info, speak with most types of professionals (nurse, counsellors, etc) and the options are huge! Another great thing about this centre was the opportunity to run certain clubs, groups or programs. I was involved in several, one of my favourites being Girls Group which would be a safe and comfortable place to ask  those important questions.

My next post will be looking at the Saskatchewan Health curriculum.

-J