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GDI News

Spring 2002 Issue # 2
Gender-healthy education for boys

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I imagine a world, in which boys are successful in school, active participants in the life of their families, and responsible members of the community. A world in which boys are strong and powerful, but also gentle and caring, I see them as not only able to get by, but also to get ahead; not only able to get ahead, but also able to get together with others to work to improve our society. I imagine this for all of our sons. Can you imagine this as not being at the expense of our daughters?

Paul Kivel, Boys Will Be Men.

As boys and girls mature, they feel intensified pressure to conform to very narrow definitions of "masculine" and "feminine." Building on early gender equity efforts, which initially focused specifically on girls, our projects have supported the development of equitable and effective education for both girls and boys. This perspective--gender equity works for all students--is now part of ongoing efforts around the world. As the field has developed, so has the understanding that gender-equitable education for boys may focus on different issues and challenges, but that a focus on the boys does not mean reducing the focus on girls. Rather, it means that the specific challenges for each are addressed within the framework of gender-healthy education. This framework guides our work on new challenges that have emerged, including: how to ensure that education supports healthy development, high academic standards, and high expectations for both females and males; how to apply what has been learned in 30 years of gender equity initiatives to a specific focus on males; and how to ensure that such gender-equity efforts for boys and men address issues of race, ethnicity, SES, culture, sexual orientation, and disability. Based on our 25 years of experience in gender equity The Gender and Diversities Institute at EDC has begun to develop a comprehensive initiative to bring educators, researchers, families, community organizations, and students together to address this challenge. This includes:
  • A global web-based or "virtual" resource and assistance center
  • Continued offerings of Raising & Educating Boys course and follow-up courses
  • Research on the educational needs of boys of different SES, racial, ethnic, and cultural groups
  • Support for gender-healthy education and equitable outcomes for all boys and girls
  • Building and maintaining an international research and practice community
  • International and national symposia and professional development on boys' education
While the world imagined in the Paul Kivel quote may still be a long-way off, it reflects the strength-based perspective on development and gender equity supported by the Institute and its partners. Building on two innovative initiatives, the Institute is working toward the development of this comprehensive initiative. The first step in this process began with an Institute forum on raising and educating boys, in 2000. This led to the development of the research to action report and to the development of a highly successful online course on educating boys.

GDI will pursue both funding and partnerships with organizations committed to supporting the academic and developmental needs of boys. Partnerships will include organizations reflective of the racial, ethnic and other diversities represented in the broad range of concerns about boys. Partnerships and projects will have an international focus as well as a specific US focus.

For further information on this initiative and the Raising & Educating Boys Course, contact:
Katherine Hanson, Director of GDI, or Craig Flood, GDI Fellow


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