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The Forum > Article Comments > Boys in trouble > Comments

Boys in trouble : Comments

By Peter West, published 7/10/2010

Thereís lots of evidence that young men are in trouble. Boys look for good role models but what do they see?

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Lovely article Peter. Your last paragraph is really important.

"First, catch boys doing something good, and praise them. Iíve seen schools that do this. Second, widen the range of behaviour that we reward: academic success, helping others, a range of sports. Third, look at who gets punished at school. Can we get more from boys by offering praise and rewards? Finally, while we make boys listen to us as teachers and parents, we have to return the favour, and listen to them."

This approach is shown to work well in raising children. If schools are properly resourced they could potentially, with this approach, foster individuality and reward a variety of natural and hard-earned 'gifts'.

In countries like America and Australia, sporting achievement is recognised and rewarded over academic achievement particularly as witnessed in all-boy schools. During the all important formative years it would greatly help boys to receive praise for efforts and achievements in service to others, education, science (etal) drama, music etc.

Good role models are important at home and at school, especially while the wider media focus is on sport and celebrity and fostering unhealthy perceptions of what it means to be masculine.
Posted by pelican, Thursday, 7 October 2010 11:10:44 AM
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This reminds me of the situation in a highly feminist school (public) where an arts teacher was continuously telling the girls in the class that she didnít want any boys in the class. Meanwhile, the arts teacher was mainly teaching the girls about male artists, such as the Impressionists and Picasso.

There are plenty of role models for boys, but unfortunately I donít think there is much interest in the highly feminist education system.
Posted by vanna, Thursday, 7 October 2010 11:29:08 AM
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Dr West is seeing things as either/or and he doesn't need to. Being a footy player and a good student aren't mutually exclusive categories. We need boys who aren't the stereotypical footy yobbo, but aren't afraid of those who are. Boys who are strong enough to stop the tools from getting everything they want, without becoming like them. We just need boys and adult role models who are strong in a variety of ways.
Posted by benk, Thursday, 7 October 2010 11:40:14 AM
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'catch boys doing something good'

You sound like that would be a hard thing to do, or it's not something you often see. 'catch them'?

pft role models. I've never had one and I turned out alright. Unless you count Luke SkyWalker. But he was a terrorist.

I remember in yr 3 I had the good fortune of being in the class of the only male teacher in the school. For 20 mins at the start of each day, all the guys in the class would jump on him and try to wrestle him to the ground. He was a huge guy and sometimes had 6 of us hanging off him. Then when we had run out of energy, the lessons began. We respected that guy more than any of the snarly uptight women teachers. Strange thing is the girls also looved him, looking back, it might have even been in a psuedo-sexual way. Pining for the alpha male. Some mothers were concerned about this guy because the girls hovered around him during lunch times and he helped them do cartwheels and gymnastics and the girls were wearing skirts.

He probably wouldn't last 2 mins in a primary school these days.

benk,

'Being a footy player and a good student aren't mutually exclusive categories. '
Yeah I get sick of that too. I also get sick of people thinking models are dumb. Any chick getting paid squillions and getting free coke all day is no dope.
Posted by Houellebecq, Thursday, 7 October 2010 12:21:41 PM
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< Boys look for good role models... >

Do they?

If they really do, then they'd see them. Good role models ARE out there, albeit with generally much lower profiles than the dodgy ones.

I'd put it to you Dr West that many, perhaps most, boys are not interested in good roles models but are very interested in bad role models, or role models that are renowned for playing up and defying conventional authority.

I think that this desire to run against the grain is innate in the human psyche or in the male human psyche at least.

So, it isn't really going to help if we try to deliver better role models, is it?

Let's face it, if boys predominantly had an innate desire to follow good academic, scientific or political role models rather than sporting heroes and the like, the whole world would be a much much better place, with all the enormous problems that now confront us having been overcome long ago.
Posted by Ludwig, Thursday, 7 October 2010 12:28:47 PM
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Ludwig,
Males built the schools.

Nearly every text book has been written by a male.

Almost every discovery was discovered by a male.

Not hard for a teacher to find a role model for boys, but try and find a teacher prepared to do it, and it would be easier to find the Holy Grail (and many people have been looking for that for centuries).
Posted by vanna, Thursday, 7 October 2010 1:45:40 PM
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