Character Ed at the American School Foundation of Monterrey I had a fabulous trip to Monterrey to train Character Education teachers on the SECS-C. At the start I knew this school was on board with what the SECS-C tries to do through the very fact that they have Character Education. What I found, and the teachers and students brought forth, is that all too often Character Education is a place in the curriculum where everything can be dumped, without very much thought to what is character, what is ethics, and how do you teach towards the development of both. AFSM wanted to bring the ethics back to Character Education. And so did the students. And so did the parents!
Where do we learn about sex? I borrowed an initial exercise from psychologist Debra Mollen who teaches at Texas Women’s University and asked each group, when I met with each, where they learned about sex. Not surprisingly, there were so many places that provided people with sex education, some accurate, some supporting stereotypes, and some wildly wrong. This exercise shows all how important it is to not teach sex ed in a biological vacuum (that is, only about reproduction and contraception and diseases). We need to help students navigate society and societal teachings and values about sex.
Students When alone with the amazing students, 9th-11th grade, I asked them if they could be a fly on the wall in my later talk with the parents, what would they want to know. They wanted to know WHY their parents believed what they believed, whether it was their anti-LGBT beliefs or their beliefs about love needing to motivate sex. They absolutely craved ethical discussion with their parents. They need their parents to speak about their values and they want to engage in ethical debate.
Parents When I met with the parents, who were far less conservative than their kids portrayed them, they too wanted to engage in ethical discussions with their kids. They did NOT come from a “risk” perspective – how do we stop our kids from accessing porn, sexting, having sex? – they came from a perspective of “how do we talk to our kids?” Some had strong opinions and some weren’t even sure how they thought about some of these issues. But they didn’t want the generational divide. And they were all thinking about how to prepare their kids to be smart thinkers, and ethical people when they went off to college.
Future Work To this end, they encouraged me to come up with Parent/Child Discussion Starters at the end of each lesson and that will be my project this summer!
Thanks So grateful to Laurie Behan and Lilia Gonzalez for bringing me to Monterrey. The mountains, the food, the tequila -- but most of all the faculty, students, and parents at AFSM made this a beautiful, collaborative experience!