By Bradley Barr, Deputy Head Master
How do you raise boys to become good men? How do you make sure they learn the ‘right’ lessons (and) find (the ‘right’) path to follow? How do you ensure they’ll be OK? - Celia Lashlie
One of the fundamental aims of Trinity Grammar School is to support parents in helping their sons to become good men. I feel confident to opine that no parent wants a 30 or 40 year-old son who is still behaving like a ‘boy’ and no parent aspires to their son becoming a ‘bad’ man. The sentiment behind the aim is captured in the verse from the Gospel of St Luke, Chapter 2, that recounts Jesus’ growth in “wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and men”. We consciously and deliberately want to contribute to the sort of man your son becomes.
So, what do we understand a good man to be in the age of #metoo and the widespread public commentary on toxic masculinity? How do we respond when former Wallaby, journalist, author and public commentator, Peter Fitzsimons, states, “women live in fear and men have no idea?”
Importantly, I think we have to acknowledge that the ‘traditional’ ideal of men as protector and provider, physically powerful, stoic and not very emotionally intelligent is no longer an appropriate construct for the 21st century. The world has changed … and for the better. In listening to talkback radio recently when opposition leader Mr Shorten talked about the discrimination his mother faced in the ‘good old days’ of 1950s and 1960s Australia, and hearing (being reminded) of the stories of young women like my mother and grandmother being forced to resign from work once they married, we have come a long way.
Young women have been empowered and many of the barriers that once excluded them have been removed, notwithstanding that there is still a gender pay gap and that women are still underrepresented in politics and in senior executive roles. The glass ceiling may not have been shattered, but it is certainly significantly cracked. So, what does this mean for your sons? How can we help you equip them to become good, loving, articulate and empathetic men, friends, husbands, sons, brothers and fathers?
The messages we give to your sons may not make it home to be shared with you around the dinner table because, in their mind, the goal they scored or the mark they gained in a recent assessment task has more conversational currency and a higher value than what was said in Assembly. Nonetheless, it is important that you know that there is a constant drip-feed of our values. Values in which we hope each Trinity boy’s manhood is grounded. In Term 1 we spoke regularly and often about the importance of respect, for example. Our boys heard it from the Head Master, the Masters of the Middle and Senior School, their Housemasters, Middle School Housemasters and Tutors, and from me. They are still boys and young men, of course, and so they often fall short of our aspirational values and ideals, but we hope and believe that the repetition and consistency play an important role in building the foundation for the adult they will soon become.
I spoke to the boys about empathy, the power and value of the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. The tenor of my message was that, as men, we sometimes need to listen. Just listen. Not defend or explain or solve, but to try and come to an understanding of the lived experience of others. At Trinity, we believe the ability to have and express empathy is one of the fundamental attributes of manhood.
A few years ago, a student from one of my first classes at Trinity enrolled his son and, since then, there have been others. Fathers and husbands who were boys when they passed through the halls, playing fields and classrooms of the School. I have yet to meet one who is not a good man. Maybe I have been lucky. But maybe that says something about the values we helped their parents impart to them, and that we will, in turn, help them to impart to their sons. Good luck notwithstanding, those values and aspirations have not changed in the years since the School was founded, even if the way in which masculinity is defined has evolved. We remain committed to doing our utmost to help you guide your sons along the road to manhood.
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 1 Corinthians 13:11
For over a hundred years Trinity Grammar School has educated boys in mind, body and spirit. Our mission is to provide a thoroughly Christian education for boys from Pre-Kindergarten to Year 12, imparting knowledge and understanding of the world we live in, and recognising the importance of spiritual qualities in every sphere of learning.
Fuelled by a pastorally aware culture with exceptionally high levels of individual student attention, we aim to know, understand and nurture each student to help him realise his potential, passion and purpose in life.
To learn about the Trinity difference and to discover why we’re one of Sydney’s top boys’ schools, subscribe to our newsletter.