“Whenever I asked boys about planning, their immediate response was to assert that they don’t plan. ‘We don’t plan because plans never work anyway.” “Life’s a roller-coaster, so there’s no point in planning.”
“Girls plan a lot, don’t they?”
“Yeah, but they change their minds, don’t they?”
“Yes, I guess they do.”
“See, waste of time making the decision at the first place!”
“Do you think you’ll ever have a life plan?”
“So how will your life sort itself out?”
“Oh, that’s easy. I’ll be about 25 and some gorgeous-looking chick will walk past. She’ll have a great plan, so I’ll just hook onto her.”
One question I always asked as we moved towards a discussion about how they managed their academic workloads: if they were given an assignment that was due to be handed in on, say, Tuesday morning, when would they do it?Regardless of academic ability and/or socio-economic status, the answer at this point was invariably “Monday night”, with the occasional “Tuesday morning” thrown in. …
It was a source of great amusement to me when, on some occasions, I pushed a little harder with the students and suggested that if they only did the assignment the night before anyway, regardless of when it was handed out, perhaps the best idea would be to ask their teachers to adopt the practice of giving out assignments overnight, working to the idea that they would have only one night to get it done. It seemed a very logical step to me and one that would mean a significant reduction in levels of stress for those parents who spend their lives trying to compel their sons to start work on the assignment due next week.
Whenever I suggested this idea, however, looks of absolute consternation would cross the faces of the boys. “No, you can’t do that.”
“Because we need time to think about it!”
This unwillingness to plan isn’t all bad news, however. A story told to me by one teacher challenges the view that adolescent males will reach their potential in the classroom only through planning and organised work.
This teacher described the time when he’d explained to a group of senior students that they had only five days left in which to complete their art folios and that if they didn’t manage to do so within that timeframe, they would lose the opportunity to take art the following year…
These were boys who were quite academically capable, but who had shown themselves to be fairly normal adolescent males by working at about 5 per cent of their potential through the year. The teacher had previously taught adolescent girls, who, in his view, tended to work at about 90 per cent of their potential throughout the school year.
Once the teacher had delivered the news of the impending deadline, the boys seemed to accept the challenge and immediately got to work. They literally lived and breathed their art folios for the following five days, spending every hour at the school, taking only occasional breaks to eat and sleep while getting on with the work. In the teacher’s words they went from their previous 5 per cent effort to about 250 per cent. Everything else in their lives fell away and nothing else mattered until their folios were complete. …
The boys also seemed to have been changed for the better and to have become more confident as a result of the experience. They’d been tempered by the challenge and had learned a bit more about who they were and what they were capable of.
So, here’s a thought worthy of consideration at this point: is it possible that this learning might not have occurred and the high standard of work not been reached had they chosen instead to work steadily throughout the year? Is it possible that the inertia frequently displayed by adolescent boys occurs because the challenges being put in front of them aren’t of sufficient depth to merit a real response?… Have we made education a series of relatively small steps because we think that’s what works, when what boys actually want and need are fewer, much bigger steps?”
From ‘He’ll be OK: Growing gorgeous boys into good men‘
by Celia Lashlie