Sunday, August 19, 2012

Real Boys

Do you ever find that at certain times you read certain things in a sort of Perfect Storm kind of way?? That happened to me recently. As the mum of a young boy and with a background interest in psychology, I’m often interested in articles / books / theories about parenting boys. So firstly I read this in The Age (it's since been removed from their website). The next day I found a book called Real Boys at the library. And then tripped across this TED talk - I’m now a huge devotee of Sir Ken Robinson and his take on education. So of course I went on to read his book The Element.

I liked the first article mainly because it pointed out that educating boys is different and that we currently have a very feminized form of education (mainly sit still and learn by talking). What I didn’t like was the assumption that all boys are rough and violent and operate in a bang bang kind of way.

I’ve read Raising Boys by Steve Biddulph and liked it but it was still sort of ho hum. Yes parenting boys is different but I didn’t get much from it, more really from chatting to other parents about it. Then came Real Boys. I loved/love this book and heartily recommend it to any parents of boys.

It’s written by Dr William Pollack – a ground breaking researcher at Harvard Medical school who has been researching boys for more than thirty years. Real Boys explores the myths of boyhood and the “silent crisis” of why so many boys are sad, lonely and confused about the conventional expectations of manhood.

This book quite simply blew me away. It covers all age groups (preschoolers, school age, adolescence), covers parenting as a mother and a father, schooling – you name it. And I really feel it has a) changed the way I tackle certain parenting needs and issues and also b) made me feel quite strong and passionate about advocating for my son in the education system (which he starts next year).

I’m not one to buy books these days, but I went out and bought this one immediately, even though I was only half way through the book. It offers tips and guides so that you parent within your own family but how to avoid alienating your son and help make him resilient and strong (and not in the rough and tumble mans man way of The Age article). Emotionally strong, supported, educated to make decisions about life!!

And then came The Element. Sir Ken Robinson’s 3 talks on TED are worth watching if you have children in the education system. Actually they are just worth watching full stop. So I borrowed his first book from the library. His take on creativity and “education” is sublime, not to mention all the different people he spoke to and their stories. People who have succeeded in so many different areas not typically mainstream cookie cutter education. And his focus on creativity shows its success in things like science and maths as well.

Again it’s a book that has made me appreciate my son so differently. Little B has a tendency to make piles of crap  make interesting structures out of odds and ends and his toys. After reading The Element, his tendency to collect every rubber band and make these miscellaneous structures shows itself as creativity not unlike those used by sculptor mentioned in the book.

These three books have been so eye opening to me in such a tremendous way. I like things that make me think more, think outside the box and make me feel confident in my choices.  I like a Perfect Storm, it can be a game changer :-)

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