Saturday, February 01, 2014

Teaching Fertility Awareness in High School

Learning about fertility awareness has convinced me that this needs to be taught in high school. For one thing, I believe it would reduce the number of abortions. I teach the basics of the menstrual cycle in the high school where I work, even though it is NOT part of the curriculum, because I believe women (and men) should know more about what is going on in their bodies. Most of them understand the basics, but when I start showing them charts of hormones and mention the role of the pituitary and corpus luteum, I can tell that they have no idea what I am talking about and they are hearing this information for the first time. The class suddenly gets very quiet and pays close attention, because they care about this topic. Many of them are probably sexually active, or will be before they graduate high school. As much as I would rather they wait until marriage, I would also rather that they are more informed about their risk-taking behavior. If a teenage girl knows that it is her "fertile" time, or around ovulation, because she has been taught to notice certain changes in her body, there is a good chance she will be less likely to have sex, and certainly unprotected sex, during that time.

I haven't forgotten my promise from November to cover natural family planning in more detail. I hope to cover this topic a bit more in the coming month. I was a bit busy with entering the institution of marriage in December.

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I'm all for it. And by the way, Simcha Fischer's NFP book came in, I'll lend it to you next week.
Awesome. Maybe I should start a Kickstarter project to develop a high school appropriate fertility awareness unit that could be implemented in biology class. But I won't have time to do it until summer 2015. :-(
Sounds like a good plan to me. What would that look like?
I think lesson plans that would fit in with the reproductive unit, so all the anatomy and physiology. However, I would simply place greater emphasis on the women's cycle, and add content about the changes to a woman's body throughout her cycle in terms of mucus, body temperature and cervix. I would also emphasize the role of a woman's cervical mucus in terms of fertility. This was something I didn't learn until I started taking NFP classes. I didn't even learn this college level biology. But it is so fascinating and well documented to be true! Then maybe I would have a special lesson plan where boys and girls are separated and women are taught to track their cycles and this biomarkers. For the boys I would have a separate lesson maybe around the idea of consent and respect for women. I think the topic of consent is also sorely missing in most health classes, except that getting a girl drunk doesn't mean her consent is legitimate. But I think it needs to widened. Pressuring a girlfriend to have sex or participate in certain acts can take on much more mild form, that in the male mind, may be considered normal or "part of the game." Another topic that could be discussed with the men is the effect of pornography on future relationships. Also, I think men need to learn that women's pubic hair is NORMAL and NATURAL. So often when teaching sexual reproduction the guys freak out when I show the women's parts (even a line drawing) because they can't handle the idea of pubic hair down there. I think they are getting this notion from porn. Sorry if it seems like I have an axe to grind with the men, but these are just some ideas.
Don't be so sure about blaming men's perceptions on pornography. I prefer a hirsute lady in various ways, and have gotten much feedback from females saying how gross body hair is and how I'm the problem for not being horrified by it.

Same thing with pressuring, with a lot of people, no really doesn't mean no, but try harder and show me you care. Also I would recommend you talk to a friend of mine whom I will not name here, but who consciously drinks to enable her to overcome her inhibitions before engaging in romantic acts. It's not moral for various reasons, but it also doesn't imply a lack of consent on her part, given that it's her plan when she's sober.
Good points. What do you think would be good male-only material while I am teaching the women to chart their cycles? What do teenage guys need lessons in related to sexual reproduction?
They need all the help they can get. Yikes. Perhaps we can rope someone into this project who has a better history of male-female interactions than I do as I wouldn't hold myself up as a positive figure in this regard.

Actually I have a perfectly awful idea. I've been doing a lot of psychological reading lately about how men and women communicate and it's made me a lot less bitter and given me a much better handle on how to interact with women. Perhaps a variation of that would be helpful?
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