Friday, March 17, 2006

Sex and the classroom

MaleTeenage promiscuity is occupying the minds of educators again today. The latest was over the Tammy video incident. I say 'again' because I am old enough to know that this is not a new problem. About 30 years ago in Singapore, when handphones had yet to be invented, teens have been just as promiscuous. I used to read of debates in the press and discuss it in class during my school days regarding teenagers who fathered / mothered (its an equal society now right?) babies before they are even old enough to exercise their vote rights in a General Election. The morality, the social consequences and the psychological issues that inevitably accompany teenagers who become romantically and/or sexually entangled and those who become fathers and mothers prematurely were hotly debated. The only difference then was that there were no naughty videos to download, watch and debate over. The only videos then could only be seen at the cinemas, and even then, there were no such movies with R18, R21, etc. ratings. There was only the XXX rating, but you will never get to see these movies in Singapore. Movies which passed censorship would have scenes that are snipped off at the most inconvenient places. Imagination was all important. Nowadays, nothing much is left to the imagination.

FemaleNominated MP Eunice Olsen recently talked about sex in Parliament. Its nothing new. The proposal to have some form of sex education in schools was raised even in those days. The major thing that came out of those discussions was the institution of Moral Education as a subject in the schools. But by then, I was already out of the school system. So, more often than not, until Moral Education was introduced, teachers took their own initiative regarding the issue of sex education.

I remember one afternoon, when I was a Secondary 2 student, my Science teacher took the class into the labs as usual, for our weekly lab lessons. But he started talking about how the penis and vagina could be joined and how, when it did so, eventually, a fetus would be formed in the girl's uterus when her eggs got fertilized by the guy's sperm. The teacher drew on the chalkboard to illustrate his lesson on sex. The lesson was all very scientific you see, but I am sure there wasn't an eye which was closed. But the unusual thing about this lesson is that this topic was not even in our syllabus for that year, and there was no such thing as sex education in the Singapore school system then.

Well, fortunately, the class was an all-boys class, so nobody was very embarrassed then nor did anybody hide their heads under the tables. Many laughed uncomfortably and some joked out loud. That was my first sex education. For the first time, I understood how babies were made. The teacher was not moralistic during the entire lesson, he just said matter-of-factly that it was important that we understood these things. Till today, I do not know what triggered the teacher into deciding to hold this impromptu sex class, but I am grateful that he did so - not for the graphic description and the excitement in the lesson, but enlightening me on what can happen when a boy and a girl got very close - not that I was close to any girl then, that is.

So there is indeed a place for sex education for teenagers. This is a time when they will start to be interested in the opposite sex, and some may be interested enough to begin experimenting with each other, without realising the power that nature has put at their disposal when they come together in a certain way. Today, such experiments are becoming startlingly very visible.

After all these years, however, the jury is still out on whether sex education will do any good in actually stopping young, impressionable teenagers from taking the plunge.


Anonymous said...

Speaking of sex education, I propose that our Ministry should just stop their "no pre-marital sex" stance and educate youngsters on safe sex instead. That's a pragmatic approach not because teenagers will still indulge in such activities, but because we need to flexible in our thinking, despite being a predominantly-Asian society.

I'm writing, or rather typing this as a 17-year-old college student in Singapore. Once we're out of secondary school, sexuality education ceases to exist. I don't believe pre-marital sex to be evil, and I don't see why the Ministry keeps on pushing this. Teachers are supposed to be politically-correct civil servants who've never had sex in their lives, that is if they're single. It's high time MOE relook this aspect of Singapore education!

Anonymous said...

Actually, I am all for putting a explicit 'no' to pre-marital sex. A 'yes' will open up a whole can of worms that you wouldn't want to deal with. If these worms are hiding behind closed doors now, so be it. At least, it remains a private matter.