Person centred but not personal.

When we teach Relationships and Sex Education, we’re often in a classroom. We’re in a school, in a large group, amongst people who might not have any strong support networks with any of their peers in the group.

Or maybe we’re working with a small group who do know each other, or with an individual young person; the point is we’re still trying to teach about the most personal experience someone can have: that of sexuality.

As educators, we strive to make sure that there are professional boundaries in place when we work, and talking about sex offers a chance for those to be completely shattered. When the personal becomes the professional, how do we maintain a distance? And how do we balance a participant’s needs with imparting information?

This #teachingtuesday looks at a strategy for making your teaching person centred, but not personal. If we teach about contraception, for example, it’s probably glaringly inappropriate to ask someone to say what they think would be the most important quality a method of contraception should have for them in front of the group.

One way to encourage participants to reflect is to hand out a small piece of paper with ‘what about me?’ on it at the beginning of the session. Ask them to write down or draw something that resonates with them during the session. At the end, they can discuss that with a partner (or not), or with the facilitator (or not).

This means that they can begin to reflect on their own development but not feel that they have to cross any boundaries they’re uncomfortable with.

Of course, there is a balance to be struck between this and, if you’re in a traditional classroom, outcomes evidence. But maybe that’s another conversation…

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