Saturday, April 24, 2010

Sex, Trees and Dalton McGinty


Boy that was fast. My mind's ability to process things is a lot slower than Dalton McGinty's ability to change policy I'm sad to say.

I'm sure he didn't ask a teacher before he flip flopped on sex ed in grade three and that is a shame because even I could have told him how to introduce the topic to the primary grades. You don't teach about human reproduction. Not at all. You teach the life cycle of the lascivious pine tree.

The first and for some reason, the only time I was called upon to teach the life cycle of the pine tree was at the beginning of my teaching career. It was long before sex ed was introduced into the curriculum. The raunchy behaviour in the staff room ceased the moment the door opened to the rest of the school - no lap dances by teachers in the gym in those days, and certainly n the classroom no attention was given to hormones and changing bodies.

I was teaching grade four. When I first read the notes from the unit on pine trees I was surprised they didn't come in a plain brown envelope. Now thirty years later and after having taught sex ed for years to older kids who probably knew more than I did, I just think it is sweet.

I don't know if I remember all of the details correctly but written for a primary student the story might go like something like this:

Where Baby Pine Trees Come From
You see, children, there are two types of pine cones on every pine tree. The boy pine cones are at the top of the tree and the girl pine cones are at the bottom. When they are old enough the boy pine cones release pollen which is also known as sperm. When the girl pine cones are old enough they open up and release a sticky substance to catch the sperm. If the sperm is caught by the sticky stuff, a long tube is formed inside that section of the girl pine cone. It leads to a special cell deep inside of her called an ovum or egg. The sperm starts a long journey of a year or so as it slowly travels down the tube in search of the egg. When the sperm meets the egg they join together and a seed is formed. This seed is called an embryo. The embryo falls to the ground and if conditions are right, that is, if it finds itself in good soil where there is water and sunlight, a baby pine tree will begin to grow.

And that is just one very charming way to introduce the miracle of life to little kids, Mr. McGinty.

You should ask a teacher next time, okay?
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