PSME - Personal, Social and Moral Education is one of many acronyms and terms used to describe the attempt to teach young people about things that will be useful in Later Life. It sometimes get called social studies or citizenship studies. Governments sometimes get concerned that the education system is just teaching young people about facts and things, such as how to use pi and when the battle of Tsushima happened. Even if the children remember all these facts, the government reasons, it will not help them to struggle through the moral challenges of adult life and become happy and useful citizens.

So, ideas PSME are introduced to compel schools to include time for young people to be taught about and discuss big topics, like 'abortion', 'contraception' or 'why pay taxes'. More conservative governments tend to like to put a more nationalist spin on this kind of education, thinking that it's proper for children to appreciate the glorious history of their country, its cultural achievements and unique values of being English (insert appropriate nationality). More left wing governments tend to wish PSME to encourage the forming of autonomous views on ethical issues and to promote certain kinds of tolerance/permissiveness at the expense of perceived prejudices against women, the disabled, homosexuals and so on.

Either way, if a specific time is set aside in a school timetable for this kind of teaching, it is often a rather unpromising time crammed at the end of a Tuesday afternoon. This ensures that the pupils are at their least attentive as their teacher attempts to explain the detail of the country's political system, or nurture a reasoned debate on abortion. Perhaps the most frequent response is either glazed boredom or chaos as teenage males compete to make one another snigger by adding crass asides as the class discusses contraception. Although it would be hard to measure whether PSME made adults more likely to vote, pay taxes, or have successful relationships, the way the lessons actually runs means that they are, in some sense, good preparation for later life.

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