The first published compilation of classroom activities for college-level gender and sexuality courses will be released this month, containing over 30 of the best ideas from G&S professors across the country.
Edited by a pair of University of Illinois Springfield professors, “Activities for Teaching Gender and Sexuality in the University Classroom” is intended to create a more participatory classroom and, perhaps, reduce pressure on overburdened professors.
“Unfortunately, many instructors wind up teaching these classes with very little experience and knowledge on these topics,” says Elizabeth Ribarsky, who co-edited the book along with Michael Murphy. “If an instructor feels uncomfortable talking about sexuality, they often go to a lecture approach that limits interaction with the class. By protecting their discomfort, they actually perpetuate the student’s discomfort. For us, it’s important to create classrooms where students are engaged in discussions.”
In creating the new teacher’s manual, the editors pored over hundreds of lesson plans from around the country, looking for activities that had a track record of positive results with college age populations.
“Despite how pervasive sexuality and gender issues are in the media, it still remains a remarkably taboo topic within our society. Some people actually think we’re promoting people having sex by talking about it [in the classroom]. But research has shown that people that talk about sex at a younger age – and are more comfortable talking about sex – tend to delay their first sexual experience longer than those who did not talk about it.”
Try it out:
Activity from “Activities for Teaching Gender and Sexuality in the University Classroom.” [Note: the description below is only intended as a cursory example. Before implementing any activity in the classroom, instructors are encouraged to consult the full lesson plan.]
“The Sexual Secrets Project,” developed by Shawn Trivette, of Louisiana Tech University
1. Students are given a note card and an envelope.
2. Similar to the well-known online PostSecret project, they are encouraged to anonymously write down a personal sexual secret.
3. They seal the envelope and submit it to the instructor.
4. The instructor posts the note cards in the classroom at a future date.
Frequent result: Both students and instructors are often shocked to discover that their most taboo feelings and experiences are shared by many of their peers.