Me: No, but I am worried by your enthusiastic yelling.
Form: ....sex? *snigger*
Me: Exactly. Sex and relationships.
My form are mostly thirteen, there are 30 of them, and they are all boys. But y'know what, for my first attempt to teach sex ed, it's a nice group to be working with. They're giggly, absolutely, but still curious, and really quite naive. Older students tend to be harder work. Less naivete, more innuendo.
When it came to my form having some input, they clammed up somewhat.
Me: First of all, we're going to think about some of the things we might be discussing, and come up with a few ground rules for our discussions so that no one feels uncomfortable or embarrassed. So, what might we be talking about.
Long silence. Eye contact avoidance. One tentative hand is raised.
Student: The....um....genital area?
Me: A bit yes, but the biology and the anatomy is more something you'll be talking about in science. We're going to be thinking about the social and emotional sides of sex. How to make sure you're being safe and responsible. What to do if you have a problem, that sort of thing.
Student: Isn't there like an age.... in the law...before you can....um, yeah?
Me: There is, yes. We'll certainly be talking about the law and your rights.
Student: Will we be talking about.....er....self service?
The ground rules we set later said that no one should laugh at anyone else's questions. Everyone will know different things and what to know different things and if they laugh at each other, they'll all be too embarrassed to ask anything about "...um yeah".
I didn't realise that the person who would find it hardest not to giggle would be me. Navigating the world of innuendo was extremely difficult. I had to hold on to my laughter with both hands and all my strength until I could get back to the office and collapse helplessly at my desk.
All the boys tried desperately to avoid saying 'sex' and their faces would contort marvellously mid sentence as they tried to come up with a politically correct way of saying what they wanted to say. I think it always made it worse. But they kept trying!
The school nurse came to do a session with us on contraception and STIs and the effects of alcohol and sex. She showed us a video where a rather drunk young girl is pressured into sleeping with her boyfriend. Every so often, the video would be put on pause.
Nurse: So, what are your thoughts about the behaviour of the boy here?
Student: I think the quality of the acting is poor. It's really overacted.
Me: *not laughing. Definitely not laughing*
Nurse: *taken aback* OK.... but we're really talking about the relationship between the characters.
Nurse: Everybody's different and different people use different forms of contraception, but whether it's the pill or the coil-
Student: What's the coil?
Nurse: *holds it up* This is the coil.
Student: How does it work?
Nurse: It's implanted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy.
Student: How does it get....up.... *resorts to hand gesture*
Me: *Still definitely not giggling. Or smirking*
Nurse: Oh, a doctor puts it in at the clinic. It comes in a little plastic case. The case gets removed and the coil stays behind, and then this string gets cut off.
Student: Hm....doesn't it hurt?
Nurse: No, no, you can't feel it. And once it's in it can stay there for ten years.
Student: How do they get it out again.
Nurse: Again, a doctor will do it, and get it out using some forceps.
Student: *turns pale*
Nurse: I won't deny that it's uncomfortable, but some people can't use the pill, so it's a good alternative for them. Better than an unwanted pregnancy.
The nurse moved on and I edged around the room to my worried looking student.
Student: Yes miss?
Me: You don't need to look so worried.
Student: Yes miss.
Me: The coil is for women.
Relief really brightened him up.
The nurse got out her model penis and showed them all how to put on a condom properly.
Nurse: If you come to the sexual health clinic, we will give you free condoms, but you'll have to demonstrate to us that you know how to put one on properly. We keep a record of your visits, and then if you've been to see us 6 times, we ask you to give us another demonstration to make sure your still using them properly. If you don't use a condom properly, you can still potentially pass on lots of STIs, or get your partner pregnant.
Student: You mean you have to show, like, a nurse or someone?
Nurse: Yes. Just to be on the safe side.
Student: But will they...like...watch?
Nurse: Well, yes. So that we know you're doing it properly.
Nurse: Not on you! On the model.
Here ends the lesson for the week. Who knows what next week's lessons will bring :D Wish me luck! With keeping a straight face, if nothing else.
P.S. For a whole range of wonderful stories, check out Sian's blog From High in the Sky where loads of bloggers will be sharing as part of Storytelling Sunday.