Monday, 17 August 2015

5 Topics We Need To Educate Young People On

Last Thursday evening, a programme aired on Channel 4 called 'Sex In Class'. It featured world renowned Dutch sexologist, Goedele Liekins coming to Britain and educating a group of teenagers about the realities of sex, not the glamourised porn version of it that young people are lead to believe is how it always is. Newsflash, it isn't. 

The programme wasn't perfect (very heteronormative and didn't once mention pregnancy, contraception, STI's or asexuality)  but it did highlight just how flawed the UK's sexual education system is and how ill informed our youths as a whole are. You can watch the programme here, or read the lovely Olivia Jade's post on it here if you missed it. Sadly though, it's not just inclusive, thorough and realistic sexual health education that our education system lacks, there's huge important areas of adult (and teenage) life that school just does not prepare us for. Here's just 5 topics that we need to be teaching young people in the classroom...

Mental Health
In addition to sexual health, the school curriculum needs to make room for mental health education too. When I was at school, I know people who suffered from depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder and my school didn't once, in six years of education, mention any of those illnesses, what they involve, what to do if you think you might be suffering from them or how to help a someone else who suffers with them. Both mental health issues amongst young people and the stigmatisation of mental health are at an all time high and getting people talking about these topics as openly and honestly as possible needs to be top priority. 

First Aid
The extend of first aid that I ever learned at school was extremely basic CPR (without dummies, just 'CPR theory' if you will!) and that was in primary school. It was very minimal and I can remember none of it. Knowing that to do in a medical emergency is so important and schools need to be teaching young people about administering CPR, how to give the Heimlich manoeuvre, how to put someone into the recovery position, what to do if someone goes into labour or how to help someone having a fit, seizure, stroke or heart attack are crucial. I cannot see how this isn't a completely compulsory part of education? 

Inclusive History/Social Studies
How often were your history or social studies lessons about white men? How often is the national news about white men? That is not a coincidence. While it'd be impossible to teach children about every historical event that's ever taken place, a more varied and inclusive cross section wouldn't go a miss. When our history lessons feature nobody female or gay or of any racism background apart from white, there's a problem. 

Most teenagers believe that money and a job just kind of come to you and that whatever happens, you'll probably be okay financially. For some people, this is true, but from the security of being at school and often being paid to be there to adult life of potential unemployment, benefits, taxes, mortgages, bills and insurance, our education system does not prepare teens for the financial pressures and responsibilities of real life. I really believe that teaching young people the basics of the above as well as how banking works, how to budget, what to do if you're a victim of fraud and just what exactly a hedge fund is (plot twist : no hedges were harmed in the making of this blog post!) would not only benefit their own lives, but their careers and the economy as a whole.

All my school ever covered in regards to politics was how voting systems work and the very basic ideas of what the main political parties concern themselves with. Given that it has been 8 years since I left school and in that time, there have been massive political changes in Scotland, perhaps political education has improved since then too, but in order to full utilise our democratic system and ensure everyone gets the most out of it, unbiased education about the rights and responsibilities of living in a democracy, how to join a political party, how to lobby, petition or how to even go about contacting your local MP is absolutely crucial.

Do you agree? Or if not, what topics do you think we need to be educating our young people on? I'd love to know!


  1. *aggressively promotes this post BECAUSE HELL YEAH!!!*

    In other words I love this post.

  2. You speak so much sense! Finance, first aid, mental health and sex are things that I feel would have saved me many traumatic life experiences had I been taught more about these issues in school. Not as important, but I also would have loved a bit more nutritional education.

    I would love to see more inclusive history lessons, but I do understand why schools stick to the huge moments in history, like the wars, and unfortunately the past was dominated by white men and there just aren't enough hours in the day to cover everything. Lastly, I find the politics one difficult, because leaving bias out of teaching politics would be VERY difficult. To be honest, I believe that it's our own responsibility to educate ourselves about politics, and encourage political discussions among friends and families. That's quite an unpopular opinion though! Anyway, I loved this post. I love seeing discussion about important topics like this on blogs :) x

    Martha Jane |

  3. I think I gave myself whiplash from nodding so much!! Such a great post, I love it so much. I do think that politics would be very hard to keep impartial (some people are incredibly passionate) but a broader understanding of each party and how important it is to vote would be great to have in schools.

    Fii | little miss fii

  4. I agree with all of these things. I hadn't really considered the first aid thing was lacking as I've spent most of my life involved in girlguiding and done so many first aid courses and refresher courses through that, but it's a good point.

  5. I am in total agreement with you on all of the above. There are plenty of opportunities in school to educate children about subjects out of the textbooks and I honestly believe that most of the prejudices that are out in society could easily have been tackled at school. However, teachers are notoriously not well supported (my sister is one) and getting this to happen seems like a pipedream at the moment.

    Saskia /

  6. I completely agree with you! Everything you've said makes perfect sense, so it seems baffling that students aren't really taught any of this. I would have loved to have learned how to deal with my finances (instead of working it all out on my own), and I think there'd be less of a stigma surrounding mental health if it was discussed openly in schools. I have to give my old school credit for at least touching on politics (we learnt how the first past the post system worked - by watching an episode of Blackadder - and had a mock general election in 2010) but generally I think most students are left to figure things out for themselves xx