So, how dangerous is the recent repel of the Ontario sex Ed curriculum? Very.
I don’t write this reflection through the lens of a physical education specialization or experience – far from it. However, I reflect if my own children (7 and 5), my students in high school and the importance of teaching and learning that doesn’t serve a political party’s ideology, but, is grounded in time and space.
The change in the curriculum, bringing us back 20 years, speaks to a paramount disconnect between the role educational systems are to play and the “sensitivity” of individuals. Education is to serve the greater good; grounded in a critical understanding of culture, student learning must be current and relevant. Since culture changes and values evolve, it’s important for teaching and learning to do the same. The role of government is to lead and in this case is a potential warning of what is to come; a fragmentation of progressive education that nurtures a critical discourse for students to understand the world in which they live.
As a parent, why would I not want my grade 1 child to know about consent? This is a urgent conversation not only about self but others. Or, to know the proper name for genital. As such, don’t we want to encourage respect for self and other and the maturity to know one’s body in scientific terms?
Or, as my daughter enters grade 3 the understanding of “difference” and the diversity that exists in her community. Perhaps the conversations will be challenging but we cannot afford to think less of our 7 and 8 years old. As the television and movies they watch become increasingly inclusive and potentially “censor-free” depending on where and what they are watching, it’s a reminder that we’re not living in 1998. Barney and the Teletubbies are no longer on the air and culture has evolved. As such, so does the conversation. It must evolve and make students active citizens of the present and future – not the past.
Pressingly and most disconcerting, the 1998 curriculum was developed at the time of dial up internet. This speaks to how out-of-date it really is. The 1998 curriculum is not the “greatest hits” of contemporary time and place. What about today’s use of smartphones where students must be educated on the pros and cons of social media, the importance of positive digital citizenship, the understanding of their digital footprint and respect for self and other online. The culture of Snapchat alone is a curriculum in and of itself; students at a young age are posting and sharing inappropriate images and messaging that hinders self, others and cultivates a negative social environment. How can this conversation be actively and purposely avoided? This is dangerous.
To eliminate an intentional opportunity to talk about technology and its use within a hyper connected world where young people escape into apps that parents are perhaps not well-versed on the hidden context, is dangerous and irresponsible. To avoid conversations about cultural difference is to amplify the politics of difference. It’s when we stop having current conversations that education becomes stagnant and strips you people of necessary preparedness. In case of Ontario students, a world that is connected and yet divided. For our students, the goal should be to establish Ontario students as leaders in a world in need of leadership that is forward thinking and progressive – reverting back to 1998 is a statement about the value of education itself.
In the end, regardless of who you voted for on June 7, a repeal back to 1998 should be worrisome. It’s one thing to make revisions or amendments, but to harken back to the time of dial up is a stark mistake and has the potential to be dangerous. If you’re worried, don’t be passive. Call or visit your M.P.P and have a real conversation; one that is informed and is committed to ensuring that young people of today are prepared to live activity in world much different than 1998.