chapter  4
18 Pages

Agony aunts and absences: an analysis of a sex education class

This chapter develops themes and issues introduced in Chapter 3 through a discussion of student cultures and the teaching strategies employed by Mrs Evans. The focus for this chapter is upon the proceedings of one sex education lesson for Year 10 pupils (age 1415) at Clarke School. The lesson, in which pupils were asked to write and discuss fictional problems, formed part of a ten-week course on sex education. This lesson constitutes session eight of the course. The course is taught to all Year 10 pupils in the school and forms part of a broader PSE programme that is planned and taught over four years. By developing an analysis of one lesson I aim to illustrate some of the complexities involved in the teaching and learning of sex education. The analysis indicates that sex education offers a space where competing discourses meet and are played out within the classroom arena. The chapter suggests that young women, in particular, draw upon popular culture as a resource to articulate aspects of sexuality while young men feel less comfortable with such discussions. Finally, the chapter indicates that the use of popular cultural forms such as agony aunts provide students with the opportunity to discuss several themes which are generally underdeveloped within sex education programmes such as: sexual abuse; pleasure and danger in sexual relations; constancy and betrayal; homosexuality.