Schools expected to teach boys how to treat girls

There is now a call for schools to teach boys how to treat girls and this worries me. (Times Monday January 27th 2014)
Giving the right answer in class is very different from doing the right thing when you are unobserved and have an advantage over someone else.
Any school class will contain young people with different experiences and backgrounds and teaching about sensitive matters, such as the way girls should be treated in our sex-obsessed world, could easily prove counter-productive; one teenager’s detached and clinical approach to discussion could easily provide disruptively provocative titillation for another.
Growing up, I would suggest, is an apprenticeship rather than an intellectual undertaking and a practical example on the part of an older male, when dealing with wives, mothers, sisters and cousins could provide a good start. However, a third of boys are growing up in homes which their fathers have left, a poor example set by someone who is much more influential than a teacher.
Teaching about relationships can be carried out in class, but not, I fear by talking the matter head on as is proposed. On one occasion I did teach about relationships, but obliquely, in my case in an English lesson when we readers of Emlyn Williams’ Night Must Fall had to make judgements about a girl becoming pregnant by a bully. The class thought I was teaching them English, with a bit of human biology – a diagram to show how to calculate fertile times in a woman’s cycle – thrown in. I knew that I was teaching them about human relationships.
Teachers can teach about relationships, when opportunities arise. However, if schools are required to manufacture such opportunities there will be less time, energy and focus for the other important things that schools can and should teach.
Perhaps we might then expect those who bring boys into the world to ensure that boys are taught how to treat girls.

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