Thanks for the comments of Peggy, Cate and Craig on the subject of
empathy and relational skills of boys and men and how the behavior of
some/many males differs in private and public life.
At least we seem to know that boys and men do have relational ability,
both as young boys and as grown ups. You seem to be saying that our
culture causes this to be hidden, but that if a safe environment can be
established, these skills can come to the fore. Cate said we need to
change the rules for boys on an institutional level and also, that boys
and men learn from girls and women how to be more open and relationally
intimate within relationships.
Thinking of the issues with the feminist goal that partnership at home,
at school and in the work place is our aim, what better place to provide
this environment than the classroom? And who better to do it than
teachers? Perhaps then, an environment of partnership should be the
goal.If so, we must ignore criticism that hinges on stereotypes that say
cooperation is a girl thing and competition is a boy thing.
I gather that an atmosphere of cooperation and partnership is one in
which boys will thrive, as well as girls. The basics of learning how to
make friends and to be a friend need not be different for boys and
girls. For example, a good discussion of Harry Potter and his friends
might be really interesting - and also an evaluation of his enemies
and something that would appeal to girls and boys of a variety of ages.
Would you agree then, that such an environment of cooperation and
partnership in the classroom is also one in which racism and classism
would be minimal?
Finally, it seems to me that if the goal were partnership, friendship
and cooperation in the classroom, then separating boys and girls, as
some people seem to want to do, to address these issues doesn't seem to
get things off on the right foot.
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