My educational philosophy centers the safety of all people in the room during an educational experience. For people to feel safe, I believe there needs to be some level of trust between participants, space for emotions and affective learning, and active listening. In order to establish these qualities in the classroom, I believe that students should have some sense of control over the ground rules for the space. This can be accomplished through a collaboratively created group agreement when the group will be together more than once. For a one-time workshop for which I provide the ground rules, participants should be able to give feedback in order to make it work for them.
Another vital method of creating a safer space is actively attempting to be anti-oppressive. This takes place in a variety of ways, from being honest with participants about my own identities, privileges, and limitations, to facilitating activities that allow participants to explore their own privileged and marginalized identities, to more specific practices, such as prioritizing pronouncing participants’ names correctly and acknowledging oppressive histories in the field of sexuality and health.
Along those lines, it is fundamental to my philosophy to treat all people, especially children, as full humans capable of understanding complex concepts and having complex emotions. Often young children and teenagers are condescended to and/or completely disrespected by the educators in their lives. I believe that they have just as much knowledge and experience to share as anyone else.
This means that I do not believe in a hierarchy between students and teachers; we are all there to learn from each other. This is especially important when it comes to centering the experiences of participants with marginalized identities that I, as the educator, don’t share.
It is also important to me to make room for people of all learning styles in any given workshop or class. This means using a variety of activities and techniques to communicate information, including whole group, small group, and pair discussions, hands-on activities, games, active listening activities, individual reflection, etc.
Ultimately, my most important goal as a sexuality educator is to combat shame. I hope that I can support my participants in developing happier, healthier relationships to their bodies and their sexualities.