My son is finishing a six-session unit in his 5th grade public school class called “Family Life.” They called it something different when I was his age, but I have to admit this new name saves adults and kids from the embarrassment of having to use the S-Word around each other.
Actually, it would be inaccurate to call what my son and his classmates are learning “sexual education.” They’re learning about the male and female reproductive systems. They’re learning about HIV-AIDS. They’re learning about stereotyping. Somehow, though, they aren’t being taught about sex. Don’t ask me how this is possible, but it’s true.
What my son and the other boys are learning is that, no matter which cards puberty eventually deals them, they can count on the support of Old Spice deodorant. This, I’m now convinced, is a crucial difference between my son and me and a chief reason he will sail cleanly through adolescence, while my teen years were such a tattered mess.
I know all this because after the first session he brought home a booklet called “Always changing and growing up,” made available to him by his new friends at Old Spice. Each colorful page of “Always changing” is full of crucial information on body growth, voice change, acne and healthy hair. At the bottom-right corner of each two-page spread is the Old Spice logo.
And an Old Spice ad on page 15.
Well, you can’t blame Old Spice for touting its products, can you? It exists to make money, not to see to the education of children.
But public schools are supposed to teach. Among other things, they’re supposed to promote good judgment. And they belong to the public. They’re not supposed to be malls where businesses can peddle their wares.
Actually, in a real mall, or store, we wouldn’t be stuck with Old Spice. In a store I could decide that my son will learn how to be a man from Mennen Speed Stick. Or Brut. Or Arrid Extra Dry. Or Tom’s of Maine. Or maybe even Trojan.
Would that be in poor taste?