At schools I attended, the teacher would pair each girl with a boy, then would ask each pair to discuss a topic or share information.
I have never ever understood the point of this bizarre ritual. It is also the reason why I will never ever take part in speed dating activities because it is blatantly clear that this is where the teachers got their inspiration from. Some teachers do seem to want to go on a weird power trip where they split the class up according to genitalia, paired people with the opposite sex then gleefully watched what happened. Don’t ask me where the heck the teachers would have put the intersex or gender nonconforming people. I have no bloody clue.
During the first PSHE lesson in year 7 we were put into boy girl pairs by a male science teacher. We had no choice in the matter, we had to sit next to who we were put with. He said we had to because he said so.
Each pair had to take part in an exercise where the boy had to ask the girl a series of set questions and the girl had to ask the boy the same set of questions. The answers had to be written on each sheet of paper and handed in at the end.
It was the most awkward and bloody embarrassing thing that I have ever been subjected to in my entire life. The questions were very personal and difficult to answer such as:
“What is your favourite music album?”
I had several and I didn’t particularly want to share this information. Anyway isn’t this the kind of stuff that people discuss in their spare time or at break/lunch anyway? I had to pick a random one just to complete the worksheet though.
“What is you favourite football team?”
I don’t support any. This upset the boy who I was paired with. We were both marked down because we wrote N/A in this slot.
“What is your favourite hobby?”
Chess. Lots of snickers and sneers with that one! The boy I was put with looked so bored and rolled his eyes at me. We were marked down for this one too. I don’t even know why I bloody mentioned it. The school had not chess club anyway, so it was pointless talking about it. I felt regretful and threatened that I had had to tell this boy some of my personal information. Once people have personal information, some of them use this as ammunition to tease or make fun of you. Some stuff really is better kept quiet with people you don’t know well. That is why I am always cautious and gradually test out the waters with people first until I can trust them. This is why I would never ever walk up to random people in the street and tell them where I live for example. Sharing too much information can be dangerous. Needless to say that the boy and I always avoided talking to each other because this intrusive activity had put us off ever becoming acquaintances. Whenever we saw each other in the corridor after that, we always awkwardly looked away from each other and never talked again. I don’t think that he really ever wanted to talk to me anyway which is fine: that’s his choice.
While we were doing the activity, the male science teacher was giggling to a female science teacher colleague. I heard him laughing that pairing the class up boy/girl style was “preparing” us for marriage in the future.
Weirdly, this male science teacher talked about women’s and gay’s rights in later lessons. He talked about how feminism was the best thing ever because women got the vote, could have careers and could control their own lives. The hypocrisy was astonishing.
As a male biology teacher with tanks of hermaphrodite snails in his lab, he should have really known better about sexual and relationship diversity.
Instead, he just blithely assumed that everyone in the class would marry one person of the opposite sex and have monogamous heterosexual relationships when we grew up.
When he taught sex ed, he segregated us by gender so that all of the boys were in one room and all of the girls were in another. This meant that the boys just learned about their own bodily functions and were ignorant about female biological processes. The girls were just taught about female biological processes (minus female sexual pleasure) so were ignorant about men’s sexual issues.
So I always dreaded PSHE because it was embarrassing and very unhelpful for real life.