Prepare to be more than a little creeped out. An eighth grade teacher in Sweden is in hot water for asking her 14-year-old students to write about their first time. Yes, THAT first time, when they lost their virginity (or at least had some sort of sexual experience). Maria Ahnlund then collected the essays to grade the students on how "passionate" they wrote.
Come on, sing it with me now: inappropriate and creepy! It sounds to me like an adult trying to get off on teenage erotica, and it's giving me chills.
According to Swedish newspaper The Local:
Entitled "The First Time" (Första gången), the assignment instructed students to imagine they were talking to a close friend and write about the past sexual escapades they might divulge in confidence. Other options included making up a story about their first sexual experience, writing about the first time they had sex, or how they hoped their first time would be.
As a parent and a relatively private person about my bedroom antics, this makes me feel vaguely sick. I wouldn't consider myself a prude, but I do consider what happens with my husband to be our business. Which makes me wonder kind of effect this will have on the kids. Will it scar them?
Sexually curious or not, there was no way in heck I would have wanted to write about it in a classroom setting, where there's a very real chance that my classmates could catch sight of what I'd written. Nor would I want to have my teacher reading my innermost sexual thoughts -- or think about her thinking of sex. Heck, in my 20s, I worked with the wife of one of my former teachers. Hearing her talk about him in a sexual manner still freaked me out.
Now let me back up here and remind you that these kids were 14. Even in some of the more liberal European countries, including Sweden, the average age a kid has sex for the first time is around 17. So even if one or two kids in this class has been sexually active, the chances are it's not the majority. And talking about sex is extremely awkward in those early days, especially when it's going to be judged by an adult. Kids don't want someone more experienced telling them that they're "doing it wrong" or ridiculing them for how little they have done. By grading the students on their "passion," Ahnlund made it clear she WOULD judge. Which left kids two choices -- lie or be completely paralyzed by the assignment.
The other facet of this story that can't be ignored is the power of suggestion. Parents have a right to determine when they'll do the "birds and the bees" talk. They have a right to restrict their kids from watching pornography or reading erotica. By treating these kids like they should be sexually active by 14, the teacher may well have made the kids feel like they need to run out and do something, as though their decision to hold off until they felt mature enough was wrong.
Ahnlund hasn't been fired -- it's Sweden, not America -- but she's taking the parental criticism under advisement and may change the project next year. Should she drop it from the curriculum altogether?
Image via orangeacid/Flickr