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earlier burfling | later burfling

Whew.

Last weekend was ... busy.

The memorial service for my grandmother went well - even though I got caught in a surprise construction site on I-290 in Worcester and ended up a few minutes late for the interment. I got to meet several of the folks whom Nana taught during her career as an Auburn elementary school teacher. I also got to meet several current Auburn teachers who hadn't been taught by her, but knew of her as one of the great Auburn teachers of the past. Really neat.

Unfortunately, by the time we'd finished getting everyone through the receiving line, I had to take off to get home, finish packing, and head off to the Our Whole Lives facilitator training for grades 7-9 and 10-12. That was an experience and a half! Our Whole Lives, for those who don't chase the link, is a set of comprehensive sexuality education curricula, designed by the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ (the Congregationalists). Quoting, now:
Our Whole Lives is a series of sexuality education curricula for five age groups: grades K-1, grades 4-6, grades 7-9, grades 10-12, and adults.
Our Whole Lives helps participants make informed and responsible decisions about their sexual health and behavior. It equips participants with accurate, age-appropriate information in six subject areas: human development, relationships, personal skills, sexual behavior, sexual health, and society and culture. Grounded in a holistic view of sexuality, Our Whole Lives provides not only facts about anatomy and human development, but helps participants to clarify their values, build interpersonal skills, and understand the spiritual, emotional, and social aspects of sexuality.


Most of the participants in this training were members of local UU congregations who were going to be teaching Our Whole Lives in their churches in the near future. There were a few folks from local UCC congregations. There was also one woman from a Texas Planned Parenthood chapter who'd been using bits and pieces of the Our Whole Lives materials in her work teaching in local schools and community colleges; she figured that it was high time that she got certified in the whole thing.

We didn't try to go through the curricula page-by-page; instead, the focus was on facilitation techniques, managing adolescent audiences, dealing with off-the-wall questions, dealing with nervous parents, and such. The leaders did a wonderful job of keeping the pace varied with an absolute minimum of dry lecturing. Some of my favorite exercises included:

  • Roleplaying responses to tricky situations, such as a participant acknowledging that she'd been raped earlier that year

  • A very effective exercise showing how fast a sexually-transmitted infection can spread in a population

  • Samples of various contraceptive devices, including vaginal condoms and the "morning-after pill"


The workshop was also exhausting. All three days (Friday evening through Sunday afternoon) were jam-packed full of small- and large-group exercises, roleplays, demonstrations, discussions and the like. There was a huge amount of information presented, and frankly I still haven't finished looking through all the handouts we were given. There was almost no downtime built into the program, which I found particularly challenging. One of the things I learned about myself from doing a Myers-Briggs training several years ago was that I'm a needle-pegging Introvert - meaning that I really need time by myself to digest, process and recharge my mental batteries. There just wasn't enough time in this class for any of that. I'm glad, though, that I could recognize what was going on, and realize that my feeling beat didn't mean there was anything disastrously wrong.

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