Dear KES Family,
This has been a classic King’s-Edgehill School week. Tournaments and races in all our sports, Math Circles and Science Fair, math competitions and drama rehearsals, preparations for our Coffee House on Monday, 30 Hour Famine and wear pink for Anti-Bullying Day. It has been gloriously busy.
Despite being super busy, I was intrigued enough by the sensational headlines to read the Ontario Ministry of Education’s new sex education curriculum found in their freshly released Health and Physical Education document. Yes, it’s true, I have been reading about sex this week. The document itself is a fascinating read and the sex education material is but part of a greater message about overall health. It does not quibble about what parents should be teaching at home and what schools should cover. It assumes that some children won’t be taught anything at home and so it is better for them and our society that everything from internet safety to anatomy is covered in school.
Many topics caught my attention, but I thought I would mention two. In the opening pages it discusses mental health and makes the following statement: As students will learn in the courses outlined in this document, mental health is much more than the absence of mental illness. I like this a lot. First of all, I appreciate that the document addresses mental health and that, like physical health, just because we are not sick does not mean we are healthy. It is an interesting way of looking at ourselves and our emotional state. Just because someone is not depressed does not mean that they are happy. Just because someone is not overweight or sick does not mean that they are healthy. Thinking of health as a dynamic and positive thing I find inspiring. I remember my father saying that one’s health is the most important thing in life, without it we are not much use to anyone. We all try to avoid being sick, but how many of us actively seek mental and physical health? This perspective is right at the core of the School’s Be More philosophy.
The second topic I thought I would mention is the Grade 6 lessons on consent. Students are no longer taught “No means no”. Instead, they are taught that nothing happens without permission. Anything other than a clear yes means no. Silence is not yes. An uncertain response is not yes. No still means no of course, but unless permission is expressly given for any kind of touching or kissing then it is not supposed to happen. I like this too. Asking permission is simply good manners. It is considerate and polite and respectful. Far better than rushing ahead and hoping the other person does not say stop.
Talking to children about intimacy can make the most courageous of parents squeamish. However, I think talking about permission is an easy way to keep our children safe and healthy.
This week in pictures.