Thursday, January 26, 2006

"The Trouble With Boys" - Newsweek Mag Feature, 1/23/06

I read the article "The Trouble With Boys" in this week's Newsweek with a personal and a professional interest. My 8 year old son fits the description of the fidgety, active, hard to teach, behind in reading, boys in the article. Every night is a battle with home work, leaving my son in tears and hyperventilating, and my wife or myself totally frustrated.

On a professional level, I receive calls and email almost every day from someone in the Chicago area asking for help in finding a tutor or mentor for a child, or a client. Too often I have to tell them that there are no programs in their zip code, or no programs serving the age group of their child. I can hear the disappointment and frustration of these people who are searching for extra help for their kids.

It frustrates me not to know more about helping my own son, or to not be able to do more to make comprehensive, mentor-rich programs more available to people who need them.

Michael Gurian was one of the researchers quoted in the Newsweek article. I looked up the Gurian Institute in a Google search and I've added a link to this site in the Research Sub Section of the LINKS library at Representatives of the Gurian Institute do workshops around the country, and you can find their schedule on the Gurian Institute web site.

The Newsweek article also mentioned mentoring. The article talked about a New York City school called the Eagle Academy and said, "In the Eagle Academy almost every boy has a mentor" and "The impact of the mentoring program, has been beyond profound."

While the focus of the Newsweek article is not on mentoring, making effective mentoring programs available in more places is the focus of the Tutor/Mentor Connection. This is the reason I keep inviting people who read my blog or visit T/MC web sites to be part of May and November Tutor/Mentor Leadership Conferences and /or the on-line forums hosted on the T/MC portal.

Our goal is not just to help mentoring/tutoring programs share ideas among each other, but to create a growing public visibility that leads to a larger discussion of where mentoring is most needed and what support systems are needed to make effective volunteer-based mentoring available to more kids for longer periods of time (years not months). Imagine a day in the future when as many people were listening to people talk about ways to make quality mentoring programs available for more kids, as there are watching the American Idol TV show each week.

If you can dare to dream this vision, you can also work to make it a reality.

If you can find a role in the Tutor/Mentor conferences and discussions you can help draw greater public attention to infrastructure needed to assure that good volunteer-based tutoring and mentoring is available in more of the places where such programs are needed.

I find that very few people focus on what it takes to have tutor/mentor programs available to more of the kids who need them. Thus, there are too few programs in most cities, and too few good programs in most cities.

If we cannot change that, then there will be too many parents without the extra help the need to help their boys, and girls, reach their fullest potential in school, and in life.

What can you do to help?

Dan Bassill
Tutor/Mentor Connection

1 comment:

jeff said...

This post is quite outdated but the problems it addresses are not. A friend of mine requested a "big brother" from Big Brothers for her son. They replied by telling her they have more needs for boys than they do girls but they have more female volunteers. Then they asked if they could offer this single mother a "big sister" for her son. It kinda misses the point, if you know what I mean.

Joe Ehrmann of Building Men for Others said: "All these problems I've been trying to deal with [poverty, racism, drugs, crime, illiteracy, family disintegration], they're not just problems, they're also symptoms, ... They're symptoms of the single biggest failure of our society. We simply don't do a good enough job of teaching boys how to be men."

And the fatherless boys are suffering the most. So few kids grow up and leave home with their dad in the picture. While the girls certainly miss the father-figure in the home, it's the boys who miss the male role model.

So I am convinced the most effective effort to help our society with it's multitude of problems is to mentor the boys!

Jeff Purkiss, Squires2Knights Ministries and