Monday, 20 May 2013

Starbucks response about blocking Sex Education Websites

This blog is blocked in Starbucks free WiFi, I had a little poke around and found a few other SRE sites blocked (some of which now seem to have been unblocked). I sent an email to Starbucks about my concerns and today I received this reply. Always nice to get a reply but sadly it doesn't seem to actually say that much. Why is Sex and Relationship Education information blocked? Is the content of this blog a danger to young people?

Dear Gareth,

Thank you for contacting Starbucks.

We appreciate you sharing your concerns regarding Wi-Fi in our stores and I would like to assure you that we have been working on a solution with our provider, BT, which means that customers get the right balance between the protection and the freedom they want and need online. We are close to implementing this solution and part of it will be to restrict access to sites which are not deemed appropriate to view in a busy public environment.

BT has also shared the following information regarding this issue:

“Wi-Fi at our partner sites has traditionally been a business service, largely paid for by credit or debit card and therefore limited to adult customers. Now that some retail premises like to offer Wi-Fi for free, the need for parental controls has developed. BT will be in a position to offer these to its site partners by the end of the year.”

I can assure you that I have documented your feedback and forwarded it to the appropriate department in our corporate office for their attention.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact us. We hope to welcome you back to your local store soon.

Sincerely,

Gretta
customer service

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Reflecting on training the trainers of Sex and Relationship Education

Over the last 2 weeks, for the first time I have taught a full Sex and Relationship Education trainer course. In the past I have helped out on someone elses course and have lead workshops on specific topics at events/conferences. This was the first time I took 
responsibility for an entire course. The course I taught is the 4 day Esteem Resource Network course. This was the course I was originally trained in and 5 years and 500+ hours of classroom experience later I was now teaching the course. The course had 10 people and I loved opening up the wide field of Relationship and Sex Education to them. 

On the course I had 1 co worker, 1 local church based child and family worker, 2 third year youth work students (one who has been on placement with me) and a herd of 6 second year youth work students. So basically everyone was a youth worker or similar  This helped me as it's the group of people I work with the most. I know how to relate to youth workers and know they will have some practical experience of what young people are facing today. 

So what did I learn by doing this course? Firstly it was fun, a lot of fun working with 10 people who obviously care about young people and want to learn new ways to help young people have happy healthy lives. Recognising that happy health relationships and sex can go a long way to helping this happen. I get a buzz from training and educating, I enjoy the process and I enjoy the result. It can be exhausting but I think all the effort you put in is worth it. Now I also have a passion for pedagogy and enjoy experimenting with various techniques/styles. I enjoy planning for groups and seeing when they fit into the tracks I have laid out. But I also love the chaos/opportunities when the groups goes off the tracks and the education is more reactive, informal and sometimes much more important. Having a good group is key. 

The second thing I learnt from leading the training was that I know more about SRE then I may realise. When asked question by the students I knew the answer. Not because I had a session plan in front of me, not because the answer was obvious but because I have spent the last 4 years focusing 50% of my working life on SRE and from that I now know a lot of stuff that I was completely blissfully unaware of 8 years ago. I forget that it is not common knowledge (for most people) to know which STIs are a bacteria and which are a virus, or what the standard treatment is or why LARCs are so important. I treat these bits of facts as something that should be common knowledge but maybe I have a stronger "Curse of Knowledge bias" then I appreciate

The training also exposed some gaping holes in my knowledge. At times I found myself saying a sentence and then silently hoping the group didn't ask me "Why?" Somethings I repeat because I have heard them so many times, maybe I have heard it so much I have forgotten the source, maybe I was never told the source. Maybe some facts are more experiences that are so common they look like facts. I still need to learn more about SRE myself. The more I know the more I recognise what I don't know. The difficulty is knowing what area to now focus on. Child development or public health theory? Parenting skills or more about midwifery? So many ways to broaden my knowledge and also always more depth to explore. If anyone reads this and has a suggestion on what they think a SRE trainer should study let me know. 

Finally, I think I now believe everyone can be involved with SRE but some people stand out as extra keen/suitable for SRE work. Thankfully on this course I wouldn't hold back on recommending a single person from this group to a school. They all did great and I believe showed the ability to work well in schools in the future. My judgement may be completely off and some of them  may surprise me (in a bad way) when I take them into a real school environment. However, out of the group a handful of people stood out as extra keen, extra motivated and extra interested in the topic. It wasn't just the loudest people in the group, it was about the depth of questions they asked. They awareness of the wider issues, from politics to media. An interest in the subject does not necessarily = an ability to educate young people about the subject but it helps. I will keep quiet about exactly who I noticed but I am curious if my mental list of people prove to be the most able in classrooms and future work. I suppose this raises the question are some people born to be Relationship and Sex Educators?