Sunday, April 18, 2010

Late Night Live - 'Boys' - Adelaide Festival of Ideas

This is an excellent series of talks on the issues facing boys (in Australia, but also in Europe and the United States). It's from 2005, but little has changed, and more than likely, things have gotten worse.

'Boys' - Adelaide Festival of Ideas

A panel of speakers address the topic of 'Boys'. Why do societies so frequently attach the words 'trouble' and 'boys'? In dominant cultures and minority cultures, the pressures on boys seem to be growing as traditional expectations change. The focus of much of the discussion is the schooling process and various ideas on how to nurture respect and hope in boys.


Larissa Behrendt
Professor of Law and Indigenous Studies, University of Technology, Sydney.

Gary Costello
Principal of Mt Gambier High School

Lisa Delpit
Educator, author and Executive Director for the Center for Urban Education & Innovation, Florida International University

Germaine Greer
Author, academic and feminist

Story Researcher and Producer

Donna McLachlan

My Facebook friend, Luke Fullager, offered this observation in response to this episode:
There was a large percentage of the boys in our failing classes, and when I did the statistics and started talking to boys in the school, I found that there was six-times the number of boys being suspended as girls.

Behind those behaviours, what often came to pass when we had the chance to talk about it was that I found boys trapped in masculinities from which they did not see an escape. They thought the masculinity they had was the one they were destined to have, even though they knew it gave them limited options and less joy.

Behind that though, often when they came into my office and we got talking, there would often be boys who couldn't articulate what through their demeanor and body language expressed a very deep and profound sadness. If they could put it into words, it would be something like: "No one gives an 'F' whether I'm alive or dead", and when the response was "Are you telling me that nobody loves or cares for you?", what would often happen is that the mask would crack and the boys, even the toughest one in the school, would dissolve into tears - because what we were doing, and what I realised we need to do, is to give boys permission and the words to express their deepest feelings, because they do feel things very deeply, but that had to happen initially free from the scrutiny of their peers."
I could not agree more. I was one of those boys as a teen - and that mask of anger and indifference cracks pretty quickly when someone really sees the kid, really understands his pain and fear. The way Luke relates to them is crucial - we need more understanding and less punishment.

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