When I returned the likely lad to his class, I decided to catch up on the group work and discussion concerning the plot of the Hunger Games. The story is about a young woman trapped in a futuristic dystopia created by males that requires a lottery to determine combatants of both genders, and I imagine those questioning their sexual preferences and identities as well. In sum, America is composed of a Capital dedicated to the pleasure and luxury of the wealthy, attractive and athletic class and the twelve surrounding impoverished Districts populated by industrial slugs, breeders and close-knit ethnics, or hillybilly bible and gun hugging helots.Interestingly this post-apocalyptic USA is called Panem, which is Latin for Bread.
The protagonist is Katniss, a mythical Diana/Atemis forest dwelling huntress and her male counterpart is Peeta, a gender fluid baker's boy. One on one the chick would take out the dude, because she got game. . . Hell,she stalked game.
I asked the lads, "How about it?"
" There's some tough girls"
You may say. However, would a Katniss start for Leo at defensive tackle, or power forward?
There was a roaring answer to the negative.
I went into a summary of the Illiad and focused on the convention ( there are five to epic poetry) of beginning in the middle of things ( In Media Res) and explained the starter for the Achaens -the Greeks - was sulking in his tent: Achilles. Achilles is what being a boy is all about. He is like every one of the twenty guys in Mr. Sills' freshman English Class -petulant, argumentative, egoistic, angry, violent, willful and easily distracted,
In short, Achilles is all boy. Our culture has no time, patience, or sympathy for budding males.
Boys are ignored, bullied and persecuted in grammar schools, because the schools are not meant for boys. . . . Sloppy, smelly, scatter-brained, bored, loud, disgusting willful boys. One of our Canaryville boys, a skinny, athletic little smart-ass in very bad need of a hair cut named Sal, has grammar school 'rap sheet' that is as thick as an Oak Lawn phone book with with disciplinary reports form Miss J, Mrs, B, Ms.K and Mrs. Q indicating a completely unrecalitrant blaggard, sloven and scoundrel destined for the gallows.
In fact, this young bothersome scapegrace is scary smart - he picks up math at all levels like a Shop Vac. Boys are not in the least like girls and must not be treated as such.
I have watched Illinois certified K-12 male teachers trained in gender neutral methodologies collapse into jello when confronted with a classroom packed with young males. Boys get bored when teaching is boring, rote, unimaginative and unloved. If a teacher does not love his subject, but demands a paycheck, boys will eat him for breakfast.
Our strongest teacher is a woman from Albania who loves boys and knows that boys learn differently from girls and knows her discipline inside and out. Mrs. Aurora Latifi is better male role model than most of the boys have in their lives, despite her feminine grace and exotic beauty, because she loves men and demands their best - self-discipline, gallantry and masculine empathy.
I read a wonderful essay by a Canadian journalist Margaret Wente who summed up my experience in Robert Sills; 9th period English class, concerning the neglect and abuse of boys in our culture -
. . . in the modern world, boys are often treated as a problem. The dominant narrative around difficult boys – at least in the public school system – is that they’re unteachable, unreachable, disruptive and threatening. Many commentators – men as well as women – blame male culture itself for the problems with boys. In their view, what we need to do is destroy the death star of masculinity and all the evil that goes with it. What we need to do is put boys in touch with their emotions and teach them to behave more like girls.
This argument might make some sense – if you’re someone who believes that masculinity is nothing but a social construct. But people who care about real boys know that’s not true. They know you have to celebrate boys’ boyness – and work with it. Many boys’ schools are trying to do just that.(emphasis my own)
Leo High School most certainly does just that. Our boys range in age from 14- 94. Merry-hearted boys make the best of Old Men. Real women, like Aurora Latifi recognize just that. My guy Sal will either be a Nobel Prize laureate in math/science, or, if his public grammar school teachers are correct, some kind of James Bond villain. I think the former.