002 Go Seek

The one where we talk about our bodies with children

  
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Every teacher knows it's coming. Every student knows it's coming. Every parent knows it's coming. The question on everyone's mind: who is dreading it more?

That's right team, it's time for FLE! Though (hilariously I might add) I have rebranded this experience as Fantastic Laurits Education, deep down in the darkest recesses of our brains, we all know what's about to happen. Family Life Education. (If you were born before, I don't know, two years ago? Three years ago? It was called SexEd.)

Here's a bit of context: FLE in the district where I taught was extremely scripted. Though I might have had visions of going all Dead Poet's Society and changing all these children's lives while learning about their prepubescent bodies ("Oh acne, my acne!") the reality was we were required to read from a script. What was not specified, however, was the accent we could don while delivering said script. My Christopher Walken could be teaching us about pubic hair and Matthew Maccahaney (boardering on offensive and insulting) walking us through the menstrual cycle. A thick Scottish brogue, "YE GOT TUH WE-ARE DEH-ODOR-INT SO YA DONNAH SMEEL TUH HAH HEAV'N".

Alas, these dreams of mine were never to bear fruit. I was well behaved. I read from the script in my normal, overly enthusiastic voice. Yes, I can sound enthusiastic about pretty much anything. Nocturnal emissions? No problem. Abstaining? Easy peasy. Circumscision? Hooray! And that takes us into today's trip down memory lane...

The third day of 4th grade FLE for boys has in it a section on curcumscicion. The main intent of the lesson is that everyone's penis looks different and it's all good, doesn't matter what decision the adults in your life made for you, you're normal and now let's move on and talk about what an erection is. Accompanying all these lessons is a portly (yes portly) designed PowerPoint presentation with annotated diagrams of the anatomy we are currently discussing. So, as the most intelligent of you can probably picture, this slide had upon it two penises, one curcumscised, one not.

Here's a good place to stop and describe for you what an FLE lesson feels like in person. I am standing in front of a classroom packed tight with all the 4th grade boys. All of them. There's a second teacher in the room, usually, and typically it's a woman, because let's be honest, not a lot of men in my profession. Already the 4th graders are totally weirded out that there's a female in the room as I am excitedly exclaiming, "Yeah! That's exactly how your testicles work! What a wonderful world!" So it's everyone. All the 4th grade boys. Everyone is sweating (great time for a deodorant lesson) because the heat is turned up to 95 because it's below 50 degrees outside in December in Virginia. I look and feel like I just ran a marathon through the rainforest on a particularly steamy afternoon.

FLE lessons go pretty smoothly, though I do pride myself on creating an atmosphere where everyone feels encouraged to ask questions when they come up - it's a safe, non judgemental space.

So imagine my surprise when I finished talking about circumscision and was about to advance the slide and a student blurts out, "I'm the one on the left," which was quickly followed by a chorus of other volunteered observations:

"I'm pretty sure I'm the one on the left, too."

"I think I'm the right one?"

"Mr. L. can you have both?"

Yes, I was caught off guard. No the students were not supposed to be comparing their penial structures with each other. Yes, I quickly moved on, as the flop sweat continued to pile up. But to the kid who is the one on the left? Nice work.


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