Re: Resocializing boys

Robert Tighe (tighe@APSICC.APS.EDU)
Fri, 3 Apr 1998 12:02:38 -0700

Linda asked a lot of questions, and I have given a longish
set of answers (advance warning), and have focused them on
what we can do in education (Kim's comments about the role
of parents is true, but, as Linda noted, we have very little
control over that aspect of socialization):

>From: Linda Purrington <>

> ... I have been disturbed that here
>in Sonoma County (CA) there have been pullout counseling programs for
>girls, but none for boys. Parents are not contacted about the pullouts,
>nor are the "counselors" in fact qualified in any special way. The
>assumption is that somehow the girls are defectively unassertive; but
>nothing is done about the boys' behavior that suppresses girls'
> What kinds of programs should be provided to the boys?

Girls and boys both need separate support opportunities, for example
places where they can discuss social problems with a trained counselor
(i.e., one who is familiar with the negative tendencies of social
conditioning, and who can encourage students to get to the root of a
problem, and who has strategies for redirecting negative tendencies).

The current average ratio of 1 counselor for every 800 students in
middle schools is extremely inadequate, and very few of our current
counselors or teachers are knowledgeable enough about soving problems.
In many schools in Albuquerque, we have seen benefits from training
students in peer mediation and conflict resolution techniques.

But mostly, girls and boys need to see adults who are not caught in
the negative stereotypes and roles favored by our society, adults
who can model equitable behavior and tolerance for difference in
everyday interactions, especially in the classroom. Unfortunately,
I have found that such adults are relatively rare, even in teaching.
Even teachers who are aware of sexism often have difficulty avoiding
sexist actions and preferences, especially when dealing with large

Robert Weverka's comments about getting more "non-traditional" males
into elementary classrooms apply here (perhaps we need more teachers
of all types, at all levels, with "non-traditional" attitudes).
If we can find the resources to develop equity programs, perhaps they
should be focused on training teachers.

> What role modeling and other types of learning most reduce violent
>behavior in boys? For example, does doing child care help?

Boys should be strongly encouraged to find non-violent methods to
resolve conflicts, and should be shown that their own positive efforts
can solve most of their problems (which boys tend to blame on others).
Smaller classes and trained teachers would help us to identify and
redirect negative behaviors immediately.

If a boy is trying to identify with and defend a traditional masculine
image, child care could tend to make him defensive and resentful,
especially if parents or peers kid him about it. If ALL boys (and
girls) at a school are required to take Home Economics, Parenting, and
Conflict Resolution classes, this could be helpful (there will be
resistance from many parents).

> What gains for teacher control of the classroom can be anticipated
>from such programs? What do we do with the teachers who also need to be

And there are many teachers who need to be "resocialized"...
I would support required classes in equity, taught by a professor
who really believes in the topic, as part of the teacher training
schedule. Inservices for current teachers can be counter-productive
if they are not voluntary, but even voluntary training can help.
Administrative and peer evaluations can also be helpful, if the
evaluators really have both the time needed to observe and the
personnel skills needed to inspire improvements.

Conflict resolution and tolerance programs are helpful in reducing
conflicts within a school and classroom. Anything else which increases
the perception of equitable and caring treatment among students and
teachers should also help morale and reduce conflicts, both of which
can greatly improve the classroom environment. Smaller classes
wouldn't hurt, either (did I say that often enough?).

-- Bob Tighe

Robert Tighe Resource Teacher
Instructional Technology
Albuquerque Public Schools Never doubt that a small group of
220 Monroe SW thoughtful, committed citizens can
Albuquerque, NM 87108-2811 change the world; indeed it's the
USA only thing that ever has.
505-256-4266 -- Margaret Mead

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