by Erin C '14

Seventh Graders Reflect on the HIV/Aids Curriculum

Recently, students at BSGE learned about HIV/AIDS, but many feel that other people should have taught the curriculum, such as specialists instead of teachers. The DOE requires New York City public schools to teach their students about HIV/AIDS. According to, “many young people lack basic information about HIV and AIDS, and are unaware of the ways in which HIV infection can occur, and of the ways in which HIV can be prevented.” Students learned about the disease in advisory from their advisory teachers. Some seventh graders feel like their teachers did a good job, but they would have learned more from someone other than their teachers. They also have mixed opinions on whether schools should teach the curriculum at all.
Many seventh grade students would rather have learned about it from a specialist than a teacher. One reason for this is that students think it would be less awkward with a specialist. Laura Villegas said, “I would feel more comfortable if a specialist taught us.” Another reason is that students would feel better getting information from a trained specialist. “I think a specialist would be able to teach us more,” said Giuliana Videla. For most students, specialists seem like a better choice.
It is possible that this curriculum wasn’t as efficient as it was meant to be. Most students have learned about HIV/AIDS before. They learned from their parents and from previous teachers. Robert Gajda, a seventh grader, said, “I learned about it before, and I didn’t really learn anything new. I learned the same things last year.” This curriculum may have been effective for students who haven’t talked to their parents about HIV/AIDS or haven’t learned from their schools, but most kids have a previous knowledge of it.
Having the advisory teachers teach the curriculum had its advantages though. Students could have felt more comfortable with people they see everyday, but aren’t as close to them as their parents are. Teachers are in the middle, between specialists that are strangers, and parents, which might be a little too awkward. Some students also believe it is a teacher’s responsibility to teach students because it is important to learn it in a school environment. Steffi Joeng says teachers should teach it because “it’s educational. It also can involve the school.” The people involved with the school that most that also know us the best are the teachers.
There is a lot of debate over whether schools or parents should teach students about the disease. Some students think that parents should teach their kids because they are much more available to us. Megan Mehta said, “I would rather parents teach us because it would be more with someone you are related to.” Others think that schools should be responsible for educating us about it. They think that their parents might not know everything that they need to teach their kids, and they can feel very uncomfortable talking about it. Syed Azmain said, “I think schools should teach it because parents won’t teach some stuff even if it’s necessary.”
There are a few students who think that it is both a school’s and parent’s responsibility to teach us about HIV/AIDS. They feel that one will teach stuff that the other won’t. Isabella Hernandez said, “I think it should be a parent’s and a school’s responsibility because sometimes a kid will only listen to one.”
Seventh grade students can agree on one thing, though. The HIV/AIDS curriculum was awkward, and they would have felt a lot more comfortable with someone other than their advisory teacher.
Story written with the help of: Samantha Calpo, Angie Valladares, Steven Alvarez, Sebastian Ali, Minhazul Hoque, Neha Metha, and Julia Ilian


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