would you rather have your regular teacher teaching sex ed? (studies say: yes)

Having taught on both sides of this fence, I was really interested in a study just published by the University of Ohio. The study found that students learn about issues like safer sex better from a teacher they already know, than from a stranger coming in to do a one-off presentation.

As a university publication reports, "For years, many high schools around the country have been relying on outside experts to teach sensitive subjects such as the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and pregnancy prevention. But a recent study…found that students learn more about such issues when taught by their regular classroom teacher."

These days (at least the ones that happen between September and
June) I teach full time. But until two years ago, I did a lot more
single session workshops. Generally, I would arrive on scene, chat up
safer sex, chat down STDs, give out some condoms and maybe my email
address, and be on my way.

If the study’s finding are to be believed, my current students are
getting a lot more out of sex ed than did the groups I met over the
previous five years.

I’d be interested in hearing what you think about this. Would you
feel more comfortable hearing about things like HIV and pregnancy from
a stranger or from your regular teacher?  What if you didn’t like your
teacher, how would that affect things?


Posted in: Health, Sex & Relationships, The State of Sex Ed
Tags: ,
  • Emily

    It depends — I have some teachers I like and respect, and I'd be fine with having sex ed from them. However, I've had the crappy public-school health coach version of sex ed, and it was dumb and awful because I disliked the teacher and knew he was not giving good information.
    Our district has outside teachers from the local science center do sex-ed/"hey look, tampons!" presentations in 5th grade, and at least at that point the "tee-hee" factor is offset by the fact that the people teaching the class know what they're talking about, unlike PE coaches, who in my experience tend to be both scary and uninformed.

  • Rachel

    I went to a private middle school, and we had health but sex ed really was hardly covered at all. It was in spanish class, with our darling older brother-like spanish teacher who had seen us every day since third grade, where we learned about teen pregnancy, safe sex, AIDS, etc.

  • sara

    if your regular teacher was teaching it you might feel embarsed to ask question about different things. so it might work if the teacher was really open and honest and the student felt that they could really talk openly with the teacher. but most student i think would not feel comfortable with talking about sex with there teachers so they might just perfer an outside source to come in.

  • Elizabeth

    When I was in seventh grade I had the health segment of our curriculum taught by my regular science teacher. As a science teacher she was awesome and everyone in class really respected her. During the sex ed segment she was very frank and knowledgable and welcomed questions. I felt like that was a great experience and I still remember specific things she taught us.
    When I was in ninth grade, sex ed was taught by my health teacher. He was a football coach and did the "sex is scary, giving birth is scary, and sex will make you diseased and gross" thing. But because I knew him, I understood his bias and I knew he was a poorly educated idiot. When you are familiar with a teacher, you know what you can take seriously and you know where they're coming from. Not to mention you know whether you can trust them enough to ask them questions and that you can trust their answers.
    But I do remember during ninth grade health having a young woman come in for a day to talk about sexual harassment and rape. She went through what constitutes sexual assualt and rape and what you should do if you're raped. She also split us into two groups, one of boys and one of girls, and had us do a Q&A sessions with eachother. It was a really good experience. I remember that day very well and I felt that from the moment she walked in the room, she was someone who was trustworthy and knew what she was talking about.
    I don't think this study means that kids always learn better from a retarded coach they've had all year than from a clearly knowledgable and trustworthy guest teacher. I just think that elements like trust and familiarity can factor into the equation.

  • Blake

    I think it would be better to hear from your actual teacher than from a stranger, however, if you have very conservative teachers (like mine) who have this "sex kills" mentality, then it'd be better to hear from a professional who'll come from time to time to make an open discussion about sex…

  • Marie-Hél&egr

    I experienced both. In primary school, ms. Tampax lady came to make a speech about periods and such. As it was only a one session "class" I don't think the benefit was that great. And I guess I would have been wary to ask a question.
    In high school, a male teacher (and director of our year) was doing a one hour class every 9 days. It was great, even though I can't remember now what exactly he talked about. We knew him better so the atmosphere was more relaxed, but it still was funny hearing him talk about sex. If I had to choose, I would choose books and small discussion groups. Being in a class setting for this sort of teaching ticks me off because the most interesting questions are the ones that are the hardest for a 13 y.o. to spurt in a full classroom.

  • Claiborne

    My school would definitely have a good sex ed program if my (and many others')favorite teacher was the teacher of the program. He's a guy, he's opinionated, but he tells the truth to his students, and he's also very funny (Isn't it strange that so many social studies teachers are like that?).
    I'm so sick of all this "DON'T HAVE SEX! IT'S EVIL!!" mindset. It makes no sense, is inaccurate, and doesn't effect anyone.

  • Dylan

    I think that could work, but they would have to make sure the teacher was really well-liked throughtout the entire school. If the kids don't like the teacher, they aren't going to listen. Some immature kids would probably laugh at the teacher, but it's better to know, so hey.

  • C

    I really liked it when someone in high school came in and talked to us about STDs, Condoms, birth control, etc. She was a volunteer that worked with planned parenthood and she knew her stuff. I think it was better than learning it from the teacher of that class because he was kind of goofy and easy to tune out.
    I know that here in Portland they have a STAR program where a couple of people go in and teach sex and relationship education. Unfortunately I didn't move here until college so I didn't get to see how people in high school responded to it but they gave us demos in my college human sexuality class of what they did for different grade levels and it seemed really relaxed and fun and informational.

  • Kaye

    If it's from a stranger with credentials, as a nurse or something for example, I would take what they said more seriously I think. If it's from a teacher that I already know and respect who knows how not to make the presentation awkward, then that would be the next best thing – and better than a stranger who didn't have something to back their place as a teacher up. If I did not like or have much respect for the teacher, I would still take the information but I might be busy laughing at them in my head, frankly.