29 Oct 2009
The report, “Boys’ achievement: A Synthesis of the Data”, gives a number of examples of this discrepancy between the sexes including that as many as 72% of all suspensions and stand downs in 2006 were boys, and that 10% more girls will gain university entrance than boys.
The answer, the reports says, involves ensuring male students are “engaged in, and excited by, their learning, and able to achieve their full potential”.
A new initiative from AUT University aims to address these concerns and the discrepancy between males and females in education by reaching out to male students in year 10, before they lose interest.
The programme, Males in Education Now (MEN), sets out to equip students with skills, experiences and new role-models so that the students don’t give up on education before they gain valuable qualifications.
MEN coordinator Paul Tupou-Vea says while the problems are there, these students aren’t beyond help.
“This isn’t out of our control. We believe if we can reach out to these students before they have given up altogether we can prove to them the value and importance of sticking with it,” Tupou-Vea says.
The programme works with the students by getting them to take part in a number of activities.
“This programme is tailored to boys, so it’s pretty hands on, active stuff, but we do get them talking as well. They are introduced to mentors and possible role models, taken on physical challenges, shown examples of where numeracy and literacy can get them, and taught about goal setting.”
Tupou-Vea says it’s important to realise that this isn’t about troubled kids.
“MEN isn’t just about reaching out to kids on the edge of expulsion or suspension, it’s about preventing that sort of thing ever happening. MEN aims to reconnect male students with a sense of purpose and focus, and that is something that all students need help with occasionally.”
St Peter’s College Principal Kieran Fouhy, one of the schools participating in MEN, says he notices in year 10 the boys begin to experience a disconnect with the world around them resulting in more suspensions, aggression on and off the sports field, and problems with their families.
“We need to recognise these problems. Year 10 boys are at a critical time in their life, and there isn’t a lot out there to help them make that transition into being a man. Through programmes like MEN we help give them focus by building their self esteem and it’s not about telling them what self esteem is, it’s about getting them doing activities and taking part and as a by-product of those activities they realise their potential and their self esteem improves,” Fouhy says.
While it’s too early to really see what MEN can achieve, Fouhy says he has already noticed a calmness among his year 10 pupils.
“It’s hard to define, but they seem to be able to meet your eye better. Ideally we want them to come out of the MEN programme and St Peter’s College as good men with their head screwed on and their heart in the right place.”
MEN is a year-long programme being piloted with six schools around Auckland. The first major activity for the students was a camp at Matakana in August which saw them go on a three hour tramp, take part in team building and goal setting, and get together for a group forum discussion.
The second major activity involved building and racing Blokarts at Bruce Pulman Park in Papakura. Each school had a day to learn how to construct a blokart which they then raced in the park.
The day focused on teamwork, skill building, communication, business theory and healthy competition.
Schools participating in the programme are St Paul’s College, Waitakere College, Auckland Grammar School, Tamaki College, Sacred Heart College, St Peter’s College.