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Let's Talk: Human Growth and Development Exploring the implications of late learning

“Let’s talk about the human body.”

I feel as uncomfortable writing these words than I am sitting in a classroom hearing my teacher say them. I’d rather not know than go through the torture of hearing it from my teacher, I tell myself.

What I, and my peers (and even my teachers), failed to realize as I was growing up is just how detrimental this kind of mentality is. It has become such an unspeakable subject in our households and sometimes even our communities that should they choose to, students are left to learn about it themselves as they grow up. Many, however, become uncomfortable learning about it next to fellow students. Ultimately, though, we just don’t see how limited the curriculum is pertaining to the human body.

Ever since my first Human Growth and Development (HG&D) lesson in fifth grade, I’ve always felt more confused than informed. Albeit I’ve shied away from asking questions, I never felt like the gaps in knowledge I had were ever being filled in. This is why it is detrimental that schools begin an uncensored HG&D curriculum much earlier than fifth grade; getting to the root of why things happen as we grow, not just what.

Though painfully awkward, most teachers fail to realize that the more closed and sugar-coated their anatomy lessons are (and mine definitely were in elementary school), the more students are forced to learn on their own. This means television, media and gossip, which we all know are three risky learning outlets.

Students begin learning things the wrong way, or if they fail to branch out on their own, they simply don’t learn in time. They grow up with the notion that these topics are considered improper to ever discuss, and are left severely underdeveloped psychologically.

If we run the risks of children growing up too quickly versus growing up too slowly, I’d say the latter is more dangerous. If we coddle our children out of the nitty gritty realities of life, we handicap their abilities to confront ugly situations in the future.

I’m certainly not suggesting to scar children with the “birds and the bees” as soon as they pop out of the womb. And I know that the high school anatomy curriculum has made strides towards erasing the stigma of it being an uncomfortable subject. But I feel that it’s important to stress how much better off we’d all be right now had we had some better HG&D guidance when we were younger.

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