- Sexual and relational education practices in the Netherlands: evidence of a discourse of erotics?
- Society for International Education Journal
- Volume | Issue number
- 7 | 1
- Number of pages
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Research Institute of Child Development and Education (RICDE)
In the literature, the Netherlands is known for its pragmatic and accepting approach of youth sexuality and young people’s sexual health. Comprehensive school-based sexual and relational education (SRE) is often assumed by scholars to be a key explanatory factor for the low prevalence rates of STIs, teen pregnancies, and abortions. Yet, it is surprising that actual SRE practices in Dutch secondary schools have hardly been researched. In the current qualitative study, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 23 Dutch teachers to explore whether evidence of different discourses (i.e., "official discourse" or "discourse of erotics") could be found in their SRE teaching practices. Many interviewed teachers’ use of a discourse of erotics approach was reflected in the topics they discussed, their engagement with student diversity, and their recommended competencies. Yet, they also encountered various difficulties in fully incorporating a discourse of erotics, for instance, regarding how to discuss certain topics (e.g., homosexuality), or how to meet different students’ needs (e.g., in multicultural classrooms). The findings indicate that SRE discourse theories are useful not only for the theorization of effective SRE, but also for the evaluation of actual SRE practices. We conclude that closing the gap between SRE theories and practices, by paying attention to the discourse of erotics approach in teacher training programs, would benefit both teachers and students.
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