Wednesday, October 15, 2003

gURL and Education

There's something revealing about New York Post's reaction to Deal with It! A Whole New Approach to Your Body, Brain and Life as a Gurl being available in schools. It's not surprising that some parents were bewildered and outraged that their daughters were getting information about sex in a tone and style they could relate to. If that's as far as it went, it would just be your classic sex-ed kerfuffle.

So why am I writing about it? The authors of the book are also the founders of, which already happens to have a million or so teenage girls reading, playing and discussing whatever is on their minds. I gather that the book doesn't have much that isn't already on the site, which most girls have probably seen at some point -- they claim 40% of all teenage girls who are online have visited the site. Their mission:
"We hope to provide connection and identification in a way that is not possible in other media. Our content deals frankly with sexuality, motions, body image, etc. If this is a problem for you, you might not like it here."
I suppose it's typical that parents demand an old-fashioned book-burning when this stuff shows up in school, but I find the hypocrisy hilarious. Kids are living online, getting access to any information they want and talking to each other about it, but their parents don't have the foggiest clue. The problem is that much of the info the kids are finding on their own may be misleading, flat-out false or damaging...whereas the philosophy of gURL is honest and they'll at least get the facts mostly straight. But this is yet another example of self-directed "learning" that kids are doing versus the institutional constraints of schools and education in general.

No comments: