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SAT: Talking to boys about school (Steve Penney)

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Steve Penney
2 January 2018

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Talking with boys about school

Using an accessible language of learning to mentor boys

You could write a story about disengaged males. I am sure thousands of teachers and families in fact anyone involved with working with boys and young men over the last thirty odd years would have their own experience to add. A story might be easier and potentially more amusing, Peter Kay’s sketch about teacher talk often comes to mind.

“It’s your time not mine!”

“I can do this all day!”

“Who do you think you are?”

Statistics tell us that white males from the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum have, it would appear plunged into an abyss of underachievement and unfulfilled potential. Certainly in my experience of a very localised context we do have a problem. However, while peering into this frightening pit that threatens to ruin your career trajectory it is of little use exalting the phrases above, unless you want to become an object of ridicule and amusement.

Considering more carefully the nature and purpose of the discourse is an essential part of my pilot programme:

  • What is it we want to talk to the boys about?
  • What do they want to talk about?
  • Do we have a language of learning that actually allows us to communicate about their experience?
  • Who is doing the talking?
  • Can we measure the impact?

 Considering an answer to these questions that does not involve a stand-up comedy routine and a change of career has led me to the following practical steps.

  1. There is a need for action, we need to stop talking about it and actually do something about it. Get our hands dirty!
  2. Traditional educators need to recognise that sometimes they are the problem.
  3. A purposeful real time and research related approach is needed.
  4. We just need to work harder to find time and resources to work at developing soft skills especially with boys.

The project materials I propose to bring together are essentially these.  The Seven Dimensions of Learning Power developed by Crick and others and disseminated by Elli global, modelled into a mentoring programme delivered by Undergraduate Students from Lincoln University written and delivered by myself and colleagues.

There is work that has already been done within the broad field of mentoring, almost to the point where the words mentor and mentoring have become through away terms that mean almost nothing when applied to specific contexts other than ones they were conducted in.  While I have and will acknowledge work in this area the main premise of this project is to create a real programme that works in real time for real people rather than a hypothetical model or an academic exercise.

However, this is a pilot study and will necessarily inform an academic paper that will seek to provide evidence to support the positive impacts it proposes. Essentially then I am working backwards, creating a working programme and working out the problems as I go to inform the paper.











Steve Penney
15:16 on 2 January 2018



Steve Penney
15:36 on 20 January 2018

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Talking to boys about school

Talking to boys about school

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