Sunday, January 22, 2017

Combine efforts to help boys

 I write to agree with Dr David Subran’s comments (Express, August 26) on Kevin Baldeosingh’s article on the underachievement of boys (Sunday Express, August 24).

Indeed, simply increasing the number of male teachers in our schools cannot thoroughly address the complex and hydra-headed problem of boys’ underperformance in schools. Too many variables must first interact before this takes place. The research identifies many, among which are the following:

• School and home environments tend to have a profound effect on a child’s development and performance in the educational system and beyond;

• The failure of education worldwide systems to meet the basic requirements of many boys;

• The finding of an English study that boys are better off when taught by men (Dee, 2006);

• Boys’ underperformance tends to exhibit behaviours consistent with cultural messages about masculi­nity (US researcher Edward W Morris, 2013);

• The poor reading abilities among boys which make it difficult for them to learn the content across the curriculum (Jha and Kelleher, Commonwealth Secretariat and Commonwealth of Learning, 2006);

• A concept of masculinity, which has emerged in the western hemisphere, and which by the outcomes of its socialisation tends to affect boys’ academic performance and also alienate them from the values of high academic achievement and the school system;

• The conclusion of a public forum hosted by the Ministry of Education, Grenada, and St George’s University some years ago that education does not feature too highly in the consciousness of many boys because for them the centrality of success and power lies in the definition of masculinity which is measured by wealth, status and power.

As alluded to by Dr Subran, very often these are glorified by success in sports, entertainment, and crime.

In addition to the above, we in Trinidad and Tobago have to accept education is everybody’s business.

I have long argued a society cannot produce desirable adults if it fails to recognise strategic socialisation of its youths must be the result of an alliance among the home, school, church, mosque or temple, the electronic and print media and the arts.

Blaming the school alone, therefore, cannot be fair.

Finally, my personal feelings suggest the Ministry of Education in general and schools in particular can help to a great extent if greater philosophical and strategic attempts are made in their respective camps. 

Raymond S Hackett

St Augustine