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Category archive: Boys

Tuesday July 01 2008

Miss Snuffleupagus reports and reflects:

When I worked in all-boys schools, I learnt a foolproof method of breaking up fights. I simply had to put myself in the middle of the two combatants, and they would immediately step away from each other. It had something to do with being in a predominantly male environment. The boys instinctively knew that hitting a girl, or even coming close to doing so, was unacceptable. Male teachers for instance, could not use my tactic successfully. They had to separate the boys by force.

Having used my clever method for years, it has become an instinctive reaction when I see a fight. I forget that in a mixed school, the constant presence of the girls means that chivalry is not cherished by the boys, as it is in a male-only environment.

Entire books could be (have been?) written about what happens to behaviour when a school switches from all boy to boy-girl.  I remember being told by an academic at Royal Holloway College, which was near us when I grew up, that when they did that switch, one of the big changes was that all the gays suddenly came blazing out of their closets and started dressing like they were on TV or something.  All that well-dressed competition?  Don’t know, but that’s apparently what happened.

Saturday June 21 2008

That’s what it says here:

Celia Lashlie, an education adviser and author, said women should ‘step back and shut up’ in the classroom.

Instead of talking constantly, they should communicate with their pupils using non-verbal cues, such as a raised eyebrow. Female teachers should allow boys to be boys.

Miss Lashlie, who describes herself as a feminist, added that mothers should not try to run their sons’ lives.

‘I’ve been in classes with young female teachers and by the end of the session my ears hurt,’ she added. ‘Women need to step back and shut up.’

Nearly 90 per cent of primary school teachers are women, while at secondary level the figure is about 60 per cent.

Miss Lashlie, who comes from New Zealand, interviewed 180 classes in 25 boys’ schools in her home country for her research.

Her book, He’ll Be OK, is a bestseller in New Zealand and will be published in the UK next week.

The book argues that boys need male role models and Miss Lashlie suggested that schools should be ‘defeminised’ by employing more men.

I have for some time believed that being a male primary school teacher is OKAY.  A decade or two go, such men were, if not actual pedophiles, definitely rather peculiar, if only in being willing to be suspected of being pedophiles.  Now, you are brave, for ignoring all that nonsense.  But just because it’s now okay to be a male teacher of small children, that’s no reason to starting putting the knife into lady teachers.

Certainly, none of the above complaints apply to any of the lady teachers whom I am now getting to know.

I also think that teachers talking a lot can often work rather well.  I find that one of the simplest ways of cheering up a baffled or confused child is to just tell them, again, what you’re trying to tell them, and say: don’t worry if you don’t get it now, you will soon, thanks for listening.  Making him explain everything can sometimes, on the other hand, be excessively pressurising.

Tuesday May 27 2008

From last Friday’s Evening Standard Magazine, in a piece about the clothing business lady who models her own bikinis, Elizabeth Hurley:

How is Damian getting on with the girls in his new co-ed school?  ‘He loves it,’ she says.  ‘I’m having to teach him how to play with girls.  He’s only really used to playing with boys, and so when I see him rugby tackling the girls to the floor, I have to explain that it is not very gentlemanly.  When two six-year-old boys are rolling around on the grass fighting, and one says to the other, “Get off,” boys just do it harder.  I’m trying to make him understand that when a girl says, “Get off,” you have to get off – immediately!  Not a bad lesson to learn early. ...


Monday May 26 2008

Studentteacher83 reports on a town-country culture clash:

Year 7 camp takes place at the end of June and everything is being planned out. Two girls in my form asked if there would be anywhere to plug in hair straighteners. I know it’s only a camp for twelve year olds and it’s not like we’re heading out into a forest and surving by eating moss and slugs but they’re not really getting into the Ray Mears spirit of things.

Camps.  Camping.  In the countryside, presumably.  I’ve often thought that it might make sense to crank up the Boy Scouts and the Girl Guides again, but make the background urban rather than rural.  Instead of learning tracking in the countryside, you’d learn how to follow someone in a city.  Instead of map reading in the mountains, it would be map reading with the A-Z.  Memorise not trees, but the London Underground.  Instead of animal spotting, car or motorbike repair.  (First aid, however, would still be first aid.)

Monday May 12 2008

I think I am glad about this, not because I hate literature and art and all that, but because I love it, but a lot of them don’t:

For generations, the study of literature has been a pillar of liberal education, a prime forum for cultural self-examination, and a favorite major for students seeking deeper understanding of the human experience.

But over the last decade or so, more and more literary scholars have agreed that the field has become moribund, aimless, and increasingly irrelevant to the concerns not only of the “outside world,” but also to the world inside the ivory tower. Class enrollments and funding are down, morale is sagging, huge numbers of PhDs can’t find jobs, and books languish unpublished or unpurchased because almost no one, not even other literary scholars, wants to read them.

I can still remember a one-to-one lesson (more of a conversation really) which I did with Smart Girl (who is Smart Boy‘s sister) in which we discussed how she might set about choosing a boy friend.  One way, we agreed (and I think we really did agree – I honestly don’t remember this as just me telling her and her staying quiet), to check out boys is to put them through ordeals, of the sort that happen to Young Men in Literature.  As Author, she would put her Young Men through dramas and disasters and triumphs, and her Young Ladies would thus be able satisfactorily to choose between them, on the basis of more than mere charm and good looks.

If they wrote about things like that in Literary Criticism, maybe people might want to read it.

The author of the piece quoted above thinks literary criticism needs to become more like science.  I suspect that this belief is more like the problem than the solution.  The desire to produce “theories” of literature is, I feel, the problem.  But his point is that these theories can and should be tested.  It is worth reading, as we bloggers say, the whole thing.

Sunday May 11 2008

This working boy did the school’s IT.  But this working boy, also in IT, didn’t go to school.  Which didn’t, says the story, hold him back.  (The way it usually does?)

He said: “There aren’t very many jobs for teenagers around except washing-up at hotels or chopping chips for a chippy.

“I wanted to start up my own business doing something that I really enjoyed, was good at, and that I could fit into my free time, at home - and hopefully I will be able to earn some money at the same time.”

There are five comments on this story in the Bridport News, all of them very positive.

Linked to by Carlotta.

Wednesday May 07 2008

It looks like Ray Lewis (see below) is about to be very busy:

Boris Johnson put tackling youth crime at the forefront of his mayoralty today with a pledge to bring in “respect schools”.

He said he hoped to set up 100 Saturday courses where troubled teenagers could combine sport and academic subjects.

The Mayor conceded that his hardline approach involving “competition, discipline - and punishment” would be unfashionable with many Londoners.

But he insisted that unless the causes of violent crime were dealt with, the problem would never be solved.

Presumably the pupils at these courses will simply be told to attend, and then told to pay attention.  It will be that or just regular punishment, like jail, right?  Well, I don’t know how this will work.  Time will tell.

Tuesday May 06 2008

Iain Dale enthuses about new London Mayor Boris Johnson’s first appointment:


What fantastic news that Boris Johnson’s first senior appointment is to make Ray Lewis a Deputy Mayor with an important role in tackling youth crime. For those who don’t know him, Ray runs the East Side Young Leaders Academy, which is a charity specialising in giving young black kids a real education. It relies on more traditional teaching methods and discipline plays a key role. Lewis says every child emerges with at least two A Levels and three quarters go to university. Polly Toynbee will have a seizure when she learns of this appointment as Ray Lewis is living proof that her liberal creed has failed black, inner city youngsters.

Lewis’s academy has been financially supported by Iain Duncan Smith’s Centre for Social Justice and is a working example of how voluntary sector organisations can make a real difference to people’s lives.

Personally I have doubts about creaming off the best voluntary or commercial sector people and making them into politicians.  They risk migrating from the solution to the problem, I think.  The now admirable Ray Lewis may come to regret this move.

“Every child emerges with at least two A Levels and three quarters go to university …”
Paul McCartney, George Harrison and someone’s dad in an old school photograph
Frank Chalk says that if the army doesn’t kill you it will make you stronger
Snuffy says don’t blame the teachers
Why no transfer fees?
11 Year-Old Takes Over as School’s Network Admin
Ed Smith on the tragedy and triumph of Billy Beane
Seinfeld on the learning difference between men and women
Smart Boy looks up Don Bradman on the internet
Somehow I don’t think this idea will catch on any time soon