Education is an issue for sex writers too.

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Erotic artists and sex bloggers are often joined by the same issues. Whether it be feminism, sexual freedom, censorship, Fifty Shades of Grey or Republican politicians who seem to think they have a right to say what American women should and should not do with their bodies, we all have something to say, and as a group we are very vocal. However, for the most part we are also rather complacent, happy to write irate articles for which we receive supportive comments primarily from within the community, and leave it at that. Of course, causing change beyond our own front steps is not an easy thing to do, and would, perhaps, require the kind of research and time we rarely have. Juggling our day to day lives and our sex-friendly alter-egos is time consuming enough without having to merge and fight for the two together. But I think we can agree that these kinds of issues are close to our hearts.

With the US Presidential election in the offing, the political side of being female and, in fact, being human, is, I hope, weighing heavily on our minds. For those of us in the UK it is easy to sit idly by, our fingers crossed, hoping for a Democratic result on the other side of the pond. Meanwhile, we aren’t identifying, let alone dealing with, the problems we are facing.

When I consider the problems we face both as erotic artists/sex bloggers and as human beings, they are rarely limited to location. The state of ignorance about sex, about money, about politics, about climate change, whatever the issue of the day is, has become astronomical, and we appear to be quite content settling into this far from perfect world.

As I mentioned before, I know these issues seem far too large for us to handle when we have our own day-to-day lives to navigate. I can barely find time to visit my little brother and sister and see them grow up; how am I supposed to tackle the Republican manifesto?

But the more articles I read, and the more I hear about the frankly horrifying state of the world, the more I come back to one innate issue: education. I’ll admit that I don’t know as much about education in other countries as I perhaps should, but I know how bad it is in the UK, and I’ve heard/read dissatisfied accounts from the US as well.

According to a study done by researchers at Sheffield University and presented by the Guardian in 2010 “22% of 16- to 19-year-olds are functionally innumerate” and “17% […] functionally illiterate”. Those numbers alone are staggering and should stand as proof that our education system is in shambles. The government’s answer to this problem is to introduce more and more standardised testing, as though proving that 11-year-olds can’t write is a way of solving the problem and not just highlighting it. Pupils are now spending an inordinate amount of time learning how to take tests and exams, rather than being given the tools to develop into independent, thoughtful adults. Furthermore, the vast majority of people I meet would describe their school experience as “okay” at best, and many people from my parents’ generation seem to have decided that lower education is something to be endured.

I was very fortunate to have been given an education I felt enthusiastic about. I went to schools that inspired and – yes – educated me. I was sad to leave school, and I am now so proud to look around me and see how successful and intelligent my fellow classmates have become. But not everyone is afforded the opportunities that I had, and I find that deeply saddening.

In fact, whilst we can look at those aforementioned statistics and comment on the disgrace that is our education system, the ability to read, write and deal with numbers are the most basic skills. We should not be settling for a system that considers literacy and numeracy the benchmark of a good education. Those should be a given; we should not even have to discuss those issues. In this country the majority of children are in formal education for a minimum of twelve years. In twelve years I would hope that they are taught more than just how to do maths and how to read and write. They should be learning how to use their hands, how things are made; they should be studying philosophers and religions – not for indoctrination, but in order to orientate them in a world where these topics are the basis of society. They should be building houses and working with the earth and talking about the political and economical and social and religious and ecological world we live in today.

Without all of that and more, how can we expect anyone to fight for causes they don’t really know about, let alone know how to deal with? And of course, to link this back to the sexual discourse this site claims to deal in, how can we expect the next generation to understand and explore and accept sexuality in all its forms and variations? How can anyone take an interest in new things if they have never been enthused or given the opportunity to explore anything beyond what the best way to take an exam is?

If we want to the next generation to grow up as free-thinking individuals who are accepting of kinks and homosexuality and polyamory, then we need fight for an education system that will provide children with the tools and the knowledge they need, to first place themselves in the world, and then change it.

  3 comments for “Education is an issue for sex writers too.

  1. 01/09/2012 at 20:34

    You are spot on with post in my opinion and yet I am the person trying to improve and change things in my tiny little corner of this country and it is nearly impossible.

    The school my son goes too has the most appalling results when it comes to GCSE’s & A’levels. Last year between September and Christmas he was set 4, yes a massive 4, pieces of homework and told to read for 30 minutes A WEEK!

    In the end after much emailing the school I was finally invited to meet with one of the deputy heads. I asked her about this and other issues and even said, no wonder we are raising a generation of morons when this is the standard of expectation. As you can imagine my comment was greeted with silence and much uncomfortable shifting in their seats.

    We have met with them on 4 occasions now, not with the aim of criticising but to try to encourage them to raise standards and share with them how it looks from our side. What started off as enthusiasm on their part has slowly changed to tolerance and finally boredom when we don’t go away as I am sure they had hoped.

    What I see is a system riddled with teachers who only know how to teach to plan, how to tick boxes and how to do teach to a national curriculum that has stifled creativity and excellence in teaching and has instead created a conveyor belt system to teaching. Teachers bitch about pay and demands on them but they can kiss my arse as far as I am concerned. Where else in the world do you get a 13 weeks paid holiday a year, a job for life and guaranteed pension? My son’s school is mainly worried about me buying him the right school uniform and ringing me up when he is not wearing the correct school shoes. I felt like saying to them.. “I will make him wear his school shoes when you fulfil your side of the bargain and teach him something”

    So what are my choices for my son, leave him where he is and continue to constantly battle and fight with the school to obtain him a mediocre education at best and in the process know that he is being failed by the school or give up the fight and move him to a better school out of the area. Neither way is ideal, with one he maybe gets a better school but he is unsettled, leaving friends and possible even resentful about my decision and the other way….. effects every prospect he has for even a slightly decent education.

    At the moment the fight goes on but I won’t send my daughter to that school if it the last one left standing. I would rather keep her at home. My son needs the discipline and environment school provides and so being at home is not an option for him but quite frankly the current school system in this country SUCKS. It is hugely divided depending on your postcode and your income, if you can afford to pay for education then you okey dokey, if you can afford to live near a really good school then you are okey dokey…. the rest of us…. we get the government churned out national curriculum taught by robots who have been bought up within this system themselves and then trained to be teachers by this system. They love plans and charts and tick boxes and standardised report forms where they just tick a box and don’t actually write anything specific about your child.

    I apologise for ranting on your blog. This is a subject the fires me up. I want to stand with you Harper and demand a better education for my children. One where they are taught to be creative inventive, curious, and engaged and one that has expectations of them achieving something and yet I know that unless something changes very son my son will be deprived that.

    Mollyxxx

    • Harper Eliot
      01/09/2012 at 22:55

      Hey – this is definitely the place to rant about this. And actually, there is some hypocrisy in me writing a piece about how the government is highlighting but not dealing with an issue, wherein I am basically just highlighting, and not dealing with the issue.

      My Mum’s a teacher and… well a lot more actually, but not in mainstream education, and she and her colleagues take great pains to get round using the national curriculum – which is a fucking disgrace. She is making changes but, of course, it costs money which – as you say – is a problem. She works 90 hour weeks and gets paid nothing – good education itself costs money, and the teachers aren’t getting it. Except in state education where the curriculum costs nothing, the teachers aren’t trained properly, and yet they still get the money. Fu-cking dis-grace.

      I’ll talk to her. Maybe she has some solutions. If anyone does, she does.

      I’m also aware that this issue is something that people don’t have to face until their children are in education, and by then the fight can feel really futile. The situation with your son really sucks because you’re right, his options are… not really options! The change that needs to happen in the system is going to take a long time, and when your children are being given sub-standard education you want (and should have) immediate results. Therefore, unless you’re bearing children over a 20 year period, it really feels like there’s nothing you can do for YOUR children. And it’s not good enough.

      But the issue is bigger; it’s not just about the best interests of existing children, but about the future of generations and generations of people to come.

      We need answers; we need solutions. And I aspire to bring them to the surface.

  2. 01/09/2012 at 23:18

    I completely agree with you about future generations and that is one of the reason that has motivated me to try my best to work with the school to improve things. The frustrating thing is though, when you raise issues with them they say things like…. “that is out of our control, the local authority decides that” or “We are only following government guidelines”

    Makes me want to say, fuck the guidelines they suck…. what do YOU think would be best but they will not deviate from the party line. If they do, the local authority will be on them hushing them up in quick time.

    I have thought about starting a blog about it all to be honest. Posting his homework, the marking he gets in his book, the school reports we get sent, on line for people to really see what is going on. If this year carries on like last then I just might do it.

    I apologise to your Mother about my rant about teachers and to anyone else who is a teacher and yet is trying to make things better but I would say my general experience of most teaching staff I have come across is, keep the parents out and give them just info to keep them quiet. They only really want to talk to you if you child is badly behaved, in fact behaviour is their TOP RATED favourite subject. Learning, progress, achievement and expectations seem to be way down the list of topics they want to discuss.

    Mollyxxx

    Ps… Opps, did that just turn into another rant?

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