Posted on 16/11/2015

About A Boy: Part 2

In last week’s blog I spoke about the differences between boys and girls, and suggested that a lot of the ‘problem with boys’ could be overcome by having schools that are specifically ‘geared towards boys’. But how does this work in practice? How do you gear a school towards boys? In this week’s blog I will give two ways we aim to do this at FBS, and next week give you three more.

First, it is creating the right ethos. An ethos of high expectations, great opportunities, firm discipline and no excuses. An ethos where hard work, good manners, and taking pride in your appearance are seen as ‘manly’, as are facing up to things, honesty, courage, bravery, making the best of things, looking out for each other, having a sense of duty and doing things even when you really don’t want to.

Being lazy, not trying your best, cowardice, giving in, being frightened of making mistakes, not giving something a go, disrupting lessons, being disrespectful, bullying and being unkind are just not cool.

It is an ethos where expectations of behaviour are clear, understood by all and seen as fair; where there are consequences for misbehaviour which are consistent and appropriate; where once a boy has had his punishment, the misdemeanor is forgotten and everyone moves on, no grudges are held.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of this kind of ethos for boys – and how it must permeate everything, and be reinforced constantly, day in, day out, in school and at home. FBS – teachers, parents, governors and boys – has to bleed these values!

Secondly, we need to make things competitive. Generally, girls find it hard to compete against their friends, whereas boys love nothing more than beating their mates. Boys thrive on competition; competition where there are winners and losers and the outcome is in doubt, it just all depends on how hard you play. That is why we put such emphasis on the House Competitions and create as many of them as we can – sport, art, singing, eisteddfods, attendance, effort in class, writing competitions, baking etc. Every house has a chance and every boy can affect the outcome.

Some may argue, ‘What about my son’s self-esteem?’ ‘What happens when he loses?’ ‘Won’t it crush him?’ Once again, this is where boys and girls are different. Research shows that when girls are told how good they are they respond positively; boys who think they are smart at something tend not to work at it. It is good for boys to lose. It makes them want it more and drives them on. Besides, it is as important to know how to lose as how to win.

Competition, being part of a team, knowing how to win and lose are crucial in a school geared towards boys. In today’s environment, perhaps more than ever, boys need to know that a team is where he can prove his courage while a gang is where a coward goes to hide.

Last week’s blog triggered a flurry of emails in response – if you’d like to share your views, please do use the comment form on the school website.
To be continued…

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