Ontario citizens should not worry about the 1998 Heath and Physical Education Program revisions that include some of the good aspects of what I will call the “Wynne Sex Ed Curriculum.” In the latter case, I can understand why it was hated by so many parents because of the assumption that gender is always socially constructed.
Interestingly, the reason critics are negative about it, is because Ford and his Education Minister, Lisa Thompson, have confirmed that some aspects of the “Wynne” curriculum will still be taught. Which, by the way, is not a flip flop. That is simply how curriculum is revised! Updates and revisions simply include what continues to be relevant.
Here, for example is what the 2018 version looks like in PDF format. And, to the left is a diagram of my favourite model for what it takes to develop a new curriculum.
For those who are not familiar with my background prior to retirement, I should explain that I got my PhD from the University of Toronto (OISE) in the 1980s majoring in two specialities — educational psychology and curriculum. At that time, there were actually professors at OISE who were known to be conservative. In addition, while my research and thesis adviser was progressive in outlook, unlike in today’s political climate, he would listen and discuss differences of opinion.
My point is that I know what I am talking about in terms of the technical aspect of curriculum design, development and implementation. All three aspects are different. At this point, Ford and his committee are still gathering information from parents, teachers and academics. Only after that process is completed and matched to actual scientific research (other than almost entirely on subjective constructivist “action research methods“), will the design and development start.
Which means, that Ontario parents and teachers may not see a new, revised document, for upwards to a year. And, that is okay. That is what it takes to get it done right.
In the meantime, teachers’ unions are making threats. The very fact that Ford is checking out what parents want for their children’s education, in addition to sex ed, means he is keeping his promise to scrap the “Wynne” program. The Education Act is what it is. The unions have nothing to do with teacher duties, no matter what they scream and yell. The Government runs the show.
Mind you, having been a classroom teacher, I know that teachers have a lot of autonomy when it comes to making unit and day plans based on an Ontario document about such things as health and physical education. And, discussions between teachers and students are not always predictable.
So, what was the problem with the “Wynne” sex ed curriculum when compared to the 1998 document? The main difference from the 1998 version and the “Wynne” version was, as I said at the start of his post, the notion that gender is more socially constructed than biological. Sometimes, that topic got into the aims and objectives at each grade level in a sneaky way.
For example, as I wrote a few years ago in my old blog, in Grades 1, 2 and 3 the objectives involved identifying body parts, including genitalia, the stages of human development and visible and invisible differences. It’s not hard to guess what kind of differences might have been emphasized.
Similarly, in Grades 3, 4 and 5, physical differences in males and females and strategies for managing stress come up. Again, understanding human development is good. The problem is that we know, anecdotally, that some students in early grades, as early as the age of 10, have been supported to transition to the opposite sex. This is much too early for such a notion because children are still maturing.
In fact, Jean Piaget would turn over in his grave at this type of social manipulation of cognitive and physical development.
Last but not least are the intermediate grades 6, 7 and 8. It is unbelievable what they were taught under the “Wynne” program. True, older pre-teen kids can handle learning about sexual relations and consent. However, what many may not realize is that the sexual relations they are talking about include not only heterosexual, but homosexual relations as well. How it is done. The differences. And, last but not least, they are taught all about masturbation.
While that is information most 12 and 13 year olds probably already know, as a curricula objective, it is based on pure loosey goosey liberal ideology. It is also very one-sided for all the people who don’t buy the idea that gender is socially constructed as opposed to biological and genetic.
Look, when someone is an adult and decides to live as the opposite sex to what they were born, fine. That’s their informed, mature adult choice. Same with gender re-assignment surgery. But, progressives need to understand that children are developing socially, cognitively and physically well into their late teens and what they don’t need is well meaning teachers and LGBTQ advocates pushing gender confusing notions at them, particularly given that the suicide rate among adult transexuals is very high.
The crux of the matter is that while there was some good in the “Wynne” sex ed document, in terms of openness about how boys are different from girls, there was definitely too much social engineering going on based on progressive, liberal ideology that is simply not supported by solid scientific research — other than, as I said earlier, research that is constructivist in nature.
How odd, then, that liberals and civil liberty advocates now want to sue the Ford government because they dare to update a health and physical education curriculum to suit the majority of Ontarians. The title of this Toronto Star column, for instance, calls the possibility of a new and/or revised health curriculum, a ham-fisted roll-back approach.
Hogwash. It is called democracy. The Ford caucus is currently the Ontario governing party, winning an election fair and square. Meaning, there is nothing ham-fisted about developing a new curriculum with topics and objectives that the majority of Ontarians can accept and support — and who have had an effective role in its development.