I have often said that before student teachers received their degrees, they should be required to sit in the corner of a medium-sized school for two days and watch the secretary work her magic. School secretaries are the consummate multi-taskers and, in most cases, carry out their jobs in a pleasant and efficient manner. It is really amazing to see them in action. Over the years I have worked with so many (7 different schools) and have always been impressed. Sadly, they are among the most under appreciated members of the team. Here’s my hats-off to you.
I must admit, my first thought was to call this entry, Do Monkey’s Masturbate. I opted not to do so, but you’ll soon learn as to why that may have been a good choice.
During my time as principal of Macdonald Consolidated School I taught the Sex Ed component of the Health curriculum. This allowed me time in each of the middle school classes and gave me classroom contact time with just about all of the grades 7-9 students (some parents opted to have their kids exempted). Oh, I also carried out the annual puberty presentation to the grade 6 boys. I have to admit that the first time I did this I wanted to giggle along with them during our discussions, but I kept it together. No doubt, it was difficult for my son to be sitting in class with his buddies as his father talked about spontaneous erections. That night I didn’t ask him, “What did you learn in school today?”
The middle school curriculum looked like this:
- Grade 7 – Male and female reproductive systems
- Gdare 8 – Sexual intercourse and pregnancy
- Grade 9 – Birth control and STD’s
I only taught the Grade 9 component once as that grade moved up to the high school the following year.
For each and every class I had the Question Box. At the end of every session, students were given a slip of paper and told that they had to write something. They also had to hide what they had written from the other students; this was, of course, to protect those students who had legitimate questions to ask. I told the students that each and every question would be answered; however, they were not allowed to ask me any personal questions nor ask for my opinion. I also told them that I would paraphrase any questions that did not use the correct terminology.
Over the years, 95% of the slips of paper didn’t have questions at all. Comments like: Have a nice day, hello, I like your tie, Go Leafs Go! were common, but that was OK. This was simply an avenue down which they could travel if they had a legitimate question and nowhere to turn. Once I received the following question: My boyfriend tells me that if I do not masturbate him he will get sick. Is that true?” Now that’s not an awkward question to ask your parents.
Over the years I developed a nice list of resource people willing to help me answer the questions, and they were quite happy to assist. Calls were made to the local sexual health clinic, my pharmacist, my family doctor, AIDS Saint John and a few others. I don’t know about the students, but I learned a lot.
I did receive a number of gag questions and, having said that I would answer all, they knew that I would. I vividly remember calling the Cherry Brook Zoo and asking if monkeys masturbate. Now I should point out that I didn’t open with that question, I did so after explaining that nature of my course. Anyway, I had a pleasant and informative discussion with the person on the end of the line.
Do you know if monkeys masturbate? I know.
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