Education Matters

Teacher perspective: An enlightened view of being male

Posted by Trinity Grammar School on May 28, 2018 6:00:00 AM

By Bradley Barr, Deputy Head Master – Students

Teacher perspective: An enlightened view of being male The Head Master at Trinity Grammar School was often wont to say that Trinity was a boys’ school by choice and not by chance. It was not an accident of history. Successive Head Masters believed that there was value in providing a choice to educate children in a single sex school and the School continues to hold the view today.

Celia Lashlie, a New Zealand researcher and social commentator who passed away in 2015, conducted a piece of research from 2002-2004, entitled The Good Man Project, which aimed to explore what manhood (and boyhood) looked like in the 21st century. What came out of the project was an insight into the minds of adolescent boys and young men. A summary of her findings is contained in her book, He’ll Be OK.

So, what is it about a boys’ school education that is different, and what is it that makes a defensible ideological position to hold, especially given the intuitive argument that life is not segregated along gender lines, so why should schools be?

After 30 years teaching boys, and as the father of daughters, the thing that is clear in a single-sex setting is the absence of stereotypical gender expectations. At Trinity Grammar School we have more boys who play a musical instrument or sing in the choir than we have rugby players or basketballers. Debating, reading, creative writing, social service and the creative and performing arts are all activities that are encouraged by the School and are well supported by the boys.

As there is no expectation that boys will do certain activities or have certain interests, there is a breadth of both opportunity and involvement that is less likely in a co-educational setting. Boys’ schools, and Trinity is no exception, build pride in being a man in a 21st century world where there tends to be a focus on the negative aspects of being male. We provide an environment where an enlightened view of being male can be shared and encouraged, and where boys can derive a sense of belonging and identity.

A boys’ school also provides the opportunity to push back against the urban myths about education without external cultural and social pressures. The most prevalent of these is that boys have lower literacy skills because they don’t read (presumably because they would prefer to be playing sport!) and that girls are somehow naturally better at English. At Trinity, we don’t accept this. Literacy, the ability to write analytically and interest in the western literary canon is part of our raison d’etre. Our outstanding results in the humanities proves the thesis.

Just as there has been a deliberate strategy since the 1970s to empower girls to study mathematics and the sciences, and rightly so, our boys must be free to pursue their interests and develop their skills and understanding in a setting that resists pigeon-holing them into some socially constructed male archetype. There is no one size fits all masculinity, no single model of manhood.

In her book, Celia Lashlie has come to the conclusion that the world of boys is entirely different to the world of girls. At Trinity, we know that the simplicity and clarity of our boys’ school philosophy allows us to nurture and encourage our boys to grow into good, loving, articulate and empathetic men, sons, brothers, husbands and fathers.

Trinity provides an abundance of opportunities which nurtures boys to grow into men who are clear and passionate about their unique talents. We actively encourage our students to grow in wisdom and stature and in favour with God and man, in order that they may become responsible, contributing members of society.

Our mission at Trinity Grammar School is to help boys discover their innate talents and unlock their full potential within the context of a supportive Christian environment. We have guided boys to grow in mind, body and spirit for over a century and we know what boys need to truly flourish and succeed. To experience Trinity for yourself and to find out why we are one of the top schools for boys in Sydney, register for our open day.

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Topics: Boys' education, All boys education, Raising boys, Teachers