FUTURE GENERATION VIVE LA DIFFERENCE SNAKES AND SNAILS AND PUPPY DOG TAILS – THAT’S WHAT LITTLE BOYS are made of. We accept that boys are different from girls and it’s not rocket science to work out why nowadays they are lagging behind, particularly in primary schools. The reason touted by pundits throughout the profession is that men have become an endangered species in the teaching profession. Screeds of stuff has been written about the feminisation of the curriculum and how an over feminised environment doesn’t reflect the way a balanced society works and it’s the boys who are missing out. Back to la difference and why it’s become deleterious to a large section of our young population. It’s generally acknowledged little girls want to please and little boys want to win. Macho attention-grabbing and competitiveness seem to be denied in today’s schools whereas it should be harnessed, not ignored. With no excitement or challenge, boys become bored. I’ve read of a disruptive boy in a primary class who was finally challenged by his exasperated male teacher to an arm wrestle. The boy lost with good grace and became better behaved. A male code was at work that he recognised. The principal and teachers at Ponsonby Intermediate are well aware of what’s needed and make sure there is equal representation of both genders on its staff. Ponsonby Intermediate trialled an all boy’s class for two years but saw no academic gain. On the other hand all students have made significant gains from the mentoring programmes in place. A teacher may notice a child is needier than most and it could be for several different reasons. The mentor will then sit with the child during a one on one session, get the parents involved as well, and all work together at making a big change in the child’s life. Peer isolation can be a big factor in making a boy’s life miserable and mentoring a child who is struggling with socialisation and aggression builds confidence and helps him integrate successfully. Sociology students from university also come to the school to help and all staff members have had training in mentoring. John Winder of the Sephira Institute has a long association with Ponsonby Intermediate and has been giving guidance to groups of six boys at the school every week for eight years. He is widely respected for his work with young men, is a sought after speaker, author of Exam Success and Learning Success and is a grandfather of four children. He and wife Diane also founded the Winder Foundation which is a charitable trust committed to working in partnership with young people and families to bring about resilience, strength and harmony in homes, schools and communities. Their The B-Cool Program for Boys is designed to help boys who are experiencing emotional, social or academic difficulties. Winder says the reason many boys struggle with learning is because they don’t have as much contact with Dad as they should. Even though they may see plenty of him, they miss out by him not living at home any more. The B-Cool Program is not designed to be a mentoring exercise; he prefers the word transformation because the results are astounding. Every boy who has lasted the distance through it shows an extraordinary change. Boys want to be cool and Winder uses some of their language, not overly but enough to demonstrate he is on their wavelength. He comes in almost as an elder and the boys look up to him because he is, after all a grandfather! He also spends a lot of time with the teachers so he has a good deal of information about what is going on. This enables him to go straight to the heart of the matter and work out what can be done. He is very interested in primary education because while older boys have similar problems they are more complex and need more time, space and money. He and Diane feel it’s best to put emphasis on where the greater need is during a critical stage in a younger child’s development. In high schools they try and have more senior boys mentoring the younger ones, which has proved highly successful. Hello Tom Brown’s Schooldays.
106 PONSONBY NEWS+ December 2010
JOHN WINDER of the SEPHIRA INSTITUTE has a long association with PONSONBY INTERMEDIATE SCHOOL While a lot of principals have strong views about the feminisation of education, Winder is not fixated on this but does think it’s sad for the boys that there is only one male in many primary schools, who will most likely be the caretaker. He does agree there is an amazing swing over the last two decades towards higher achievement for girls and in comparison boys are not doing as well as they used to. He works on boys in the mental area and a lot of it is around their emotions. Sometimes they don’t cope with their feelings and more often than not, revert to anger. The programme lasts a whole year, week after week and starts by moving through the anger quickly, and instead of them expressing it physically, helps them find the right language to stand up for themselves in a responsible manner. John and Diane Winder are constantly helping boys learn about engagement, making them aware that learning is going to help them have successful and powerful lives. This harnessing of their creativity and energy will result in some of these boys attaining wisdom and taking their place among our future leaders. Anyone concerned about a son’s progress or lack of it might be well advised to contact the Sephira Institute on 09 427 5823 www.sephiraexperience.com (DEIRDRE ROELANTS) PN
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