Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Boys to Men: Catholic Schools Must Remember This

 Boys are always more or less inaccurate, and too many, or rather the majority, remain boys all their lives*. John Henry Cardinal Newman - The Idea of a University

At recent parish event, I ran into several young gents who were classmates of my youngest, Clare.   One young guy, whom I'll call Jack, I have had the pleasure of knowing from his days in Catholic pre-school through this his senior year at a south side Catholic High School.

Jack is a very athletic, energetic, witty and happy young guy.  Like my own son who attended the same grammar school and high school as him, Jack will be a fine man.  However, also like my son, Jack had a miserable time in grammar school.  The girls universally had a great time, but the boys had a really, really painful time.

All through grammar school, Jack, like my son, was called to the office, given detentions for chatting, playing, day dreaming, acting up and breaking stuff, had academic credit removed from grades for being messy, disorganized, sloppy, haphazard, received a verbal dressing down for forgetting pencils, erasers, calculators, rulers, paste, pens and good grammar, not to mention 'out of uniform.'

Jack was always one of my favorite guys, because he was what being a guy is all about - Jack took his lumps, never ratted out his buddies and never ever complained.  " How's Things, Jackson?"  I'd ask. 

"Great Mr. Hickey! Hey, you ever get a Hickey?"

"Only once Jackson!"

" Bwwwwaaahahhhaaa, Hickey's only Hickey!" Presidential timber if ever drew breath, Jack be.

Jack and my son and millions of other young gents take their lumps in grammar school, because 86% of Illinois teachers are women.  At Catholic grammar schools that number swells exponentially.  By "Lumps," I mean verbal abuse and social stigmatizing -"You'll never learn!" Mercifully, I grew up  during the waning years of female inflicted corporal punishment - Oh, there was the excessive use of verbal abuse, too but the whacks took our minds off of that. Physical pain is nothing compared to being 'taken down a peg.'

At the above mentioned parish event, all of the girls (Alumnae) ran to and hugged and their grammar school teachers (ladies all); all of the boys now tall and whiskered sported looks to match the words of Exeter, when asked what thoughts did Prince Hal send to the Dauphin, "Scorn and defiance; slight regard, contempt,And any thing that may not misbecome The mighty sender, doth he prize you at."

Boys are tough to teach.  Boys are willful, energetic, sloppy, smelly, disorganized, scatter-brained and easily distracted. They are supposed to be. Jack has been accepted to college but just might opt to go into the skilled trades. Smart lad!

Colleges of Education pound future teachers with expectations, growth analyses, tests and measurements, graphs and more Dewey than is good for a person.  Back in the 1970's, the academic goofballs decided that boys and girls not only learn the same way, but are exactly the same.  T'ain't.

We in Catholic education largely ignored such nonsense, but the damage was done at the university level and has yet to be challenged much less undone.

My son, Jack and legions of otherwise perfectly acceptable American males have been  nagged, badgered, cowed,domineered and wringer-ed by teachers in pumps and skirts. Catholic high school saved them - they attended single sex schools, where they were mentored and coached and ultimately actually taught by males and some very smart and thoughtful women.

Boys learned that they were messy, smelly, foul-mouthed, easily distracted and disappointing  through eight years of instruction from otherwise nice women who have sons of their own, but are "really, really tired of saying the same things over, and over and over . . .when's Labor Day?"

There is not much other than sports to verify that guy is altogether different from a gal.

Boys need to learn these:

  • Perseverance - We are not all winners, special, trophy collectors
  • Honesty - See above
  • Courage -Do it.  You don't get Atta-Boys for doing your job
  • Compassion -We all get it good and hard and with great regularity - See RGIII
  • Self-Control - If you feel it, change your mind; it will not end well.

Boys should be expected to behave, act and be exactly what they are and taught reading, writing and math according to their natures; only then can they become the men they are meant to be. More so, boys need purpose and not be told just because that is what we are all doing.

Girls can be taught without a great deal stress and strain. Boys? No way.

You must reach boys before you even dream of teaching boys.

*The infant does not learn to spell and read the hues upon his retina by any scientific rule; nor does the student learn accuracy of thought by any manual or treatise. The instruction given him, of whatever kind, if it be really instruction, is mainly, or at least pre-eminently, this,—a discipline in accuracy of mind.
Boys are always more or less inaccurate, and too many, or rather the majority, remain boys all their lives. When, for instance, I hear speakers at public meetings declaiming about "large and enlightened views," or about "freedom of conscience," or about "the Gospel," or any other popular subject of the day, I am far from denying that some among them know what they are talking about; but it would be satisfactory, in a particular case, to be sure of the fact; for it seems to me that those household words may stand in a man's mind for a something or other, very glorious indeed, but very misty, pretty much like the idea of "civilization" which floats before the {333} mental vision of a Turk,—that is, if, when he interrupts his smoking to utter the word, he condescends to reflect whether it has any meaning at all. Again, a critic in a periodical dashes off, perhaps, his praises of a new work, as "talented, original, replete with intense interest, irresistible in argument, and, in the best sense of the word, a very readable book;"—can we really believe that he cares to attach any definite sense to the words of which he is so lavish? nay, that, if he had a habit of attaching sense to them, he could ever bring himself to so prodigal and wholesale an expenditure of them? John Henry Cardinal Newman - The Idea of a University

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