A few years ago, the following question was asked by one of my 10-year-old Grade 5 students during our discussion of the human reproductive system:
“Sir, if the sperm cells come from the male, and the egg comes from the female, and fertilization takes place inside the female’s reproductive system… so… um… ehh.. how do the sperms get inside the female’s reproductive system??!!!”
I could sense the curiosity of this particular student, him showing his desire to learn more about the topic. However, amidst this innocent display of hunger for knowledge, his classmates around him, I assume having more than enough knowledge than they should have for their age, were all smiles; some were giggling, a few burst out in laughter upon hearing the question, and one I heard whispering ever so loudly, “he does not know how???”
It’s that time of the year again when we discuss the use of microscope, plant and animal cells, and segueing into basic facts about the human reproductive system. Ahhh, yes, that’s right. The human reproductive system!
For the past several years that I have been teaching this topic as part of our Grade 5 Science curriculum, I have witnessed how excited and curious, and on the other hand, grossed out and disgusted, my students are to have this topic. Thus, as a quick survey, I asked several of my classes to list down on a 1/4 sheet of paper three questions they might have about the topic. Any three questions which they might be too afraid to ask their parents, or too shy to ask me, their teacher, during class time, in front of their classmates. Here are some of their questions, with a little editing of their grammar:
- Why do eggs (in girls) need to be fertilized before becoming a baby?
- What are sperms?
- What would happen if two different species mate?
- Will we have a (laboratory) activity on this topic? Because I do not want that.
- When are we allowed to have _ _ _? (I do not want to say/write that word.)
- Do they really insert the ____ in the ____? (I will not say it.)
- How is this applicable in our lives?
- Why are females the one becoming pregnant?
- How does the guy’s private part gives sperms to the girl’s egg?
- What are testes?
- Why do we grow hair there?
- Where does a man put his “elephant trunk “(penis)?
- What happens to the baby if the mother eats junk food while the baby is still inside her?
- What kind of action do animals do when they are mating?
- Do you have to get “tuli” so you can deliver the sperm?
- How can the baby become twins or triplets?
- Does this involve dinosaurs?
- Why do people don’t lay eggs instead of giving birth?
- Why is a vagina gross?
- What is the effect if guys don’t have our lower part?
- Why do men and women have sex?
- Will we watch… um… porn??!!
- Why do we need to talk about this? Is this something we need to study?
- Why is this topic important to our way of life?
- As a Grade 5 student, are we that mature to study inappropriate things?
Their questions range from the miniscule and mundane to the serious and staid. Some are funny and weird, but a handful are direct and straight to the point. Their questions show the varying base-line knowledge that they have about our lesson. Whatever their question may be, there is one common denominator among all these: they are curious. And as I’ve shared with a fellow Science teacher in the same level, we become Transformers when this is already our topic. We are not just Science teachers. We transform to instant guidance counselors and mommies and daddies and family psychologists and CLE teachers and whatever else you could think of, all rolled into one, to our young, curious students.
Although we limit our discussion to the scientific aspect of this very basic discussion of the human reproductive system, this topic presents so many teaching and reflecting moments for our young students. As such, we cannot just abruptly stop them from thinking too much or too deeply. It is these moments when they are in the peak of their curiosity, which is also the right time to present them correct values with regards to the intertwined topics of human reproduction, puberty, love, and family. You cannot imagine how varied and multi-faceted their questions are. And it is in this light that at this point, the support and direction coming from parents is very much needed.
One parent asked me during our recent Parent-Teacher Conference:
“Sir, is it already time for us to talk to our son about the birds and the bees?”
My honest answer? Di ko po alam. Wala pa po akong anak eh. Haha! 🙂 But kidding aside, from the several years I’ve taught, and most probably will be teaching this topic, I guess it won’t hurt if this topic is already being introduced gradually into the awareness of our kids starting this age.
I grew up in a household where this topic is more likely considered as a taboo, something that should not be discussed out loud. And this applies to the kids of my generation. However, despite not having my kids of my own yet, I believe the best persons to ask these questions, and the best persons which will form and mold our awareness into the topic of sex, love, relationships, and family, would be none other than our parents. After all, they have been there, and done that. We’re here because of them, right?
So as an open request to each and every parent out there, mom or dad of my student or not, be the right light, guidance, and direction for your son’s or daughter’s formation about this topic. For sure, they will be embarrassed to talk about it, much more than opening up about it. However, if you show that you are that mom or dad who they will not be shy to talk about their crushes and first love, or that mom or dad who they will not be embarrassed to ask all the questions listed above, then I guess our job as a Science teacher will be pretty much be a breeze when we discuss the human reproductive system. 🙂