Staff Development Day Term Three (Part Two)

“All that is valuable in human society depends upon the opportunity for development accorded the individual.”
– Attributed to Albert Einstein

Welcome back to this mini-series of articles reviewing the learning from the staff development day at the beginning of term three. If you missed the previous article, reviewing the keynote speech from Jane Caro (@JaneCaro), I highly recommend reading it, as it was a very engaging session. We had a short break for morning tea after Jane’s talk, and came back to hear the main speaker for the day, who was actually conducting two sessions, either side of the midday break.

Michael Aulden was speaking to us under the title Angry – disruptive – lazy – Teaching restless boys, a topic which, in my mind, promised to be highly interesting. Michael’s opening statement, that “[l]ife is a physical job…” saw many of the males in the room nodding their heads, myself included. My interpretation of this, combined with my personal experience of life, is that irrespective of whether you are involved in physical labour, life is a physical task. It is visceral, and feels more alive whenever we/I am engaged in some sort of physical activity, whether it be labouring in the yard, or running around as a football (soccer) referee. I find a strange satisfaction in physical tasks such as mowing the lawn, high intensity interval training or gutting the cupboards in the house in order to throw out the accumulated junk and resort things.

Michael then asked us to picture a male student that we know from our class and consider to be struggling, and to mentally describe his profile; name, areas of concern, and areas for success. Michael continued by offering some suggestions for making it easier for boys to engage, such as using music as a timing cue for the end of sessions. Michael suggested the theme from The Simpsons:

The reason for using music, rather than a verbal time warning such as “one minute left” is that many boys do not have a concept of time, and so the time warning holds no effect. In contrast to this, the majority of students know how long The Simpsons theme music lasts, and can use visualisations based on cues or signposts within the music to determine how much of the song has played. This can be beneficial for all students, but particularly the boys, in helping them to be aware of how long they have left before they are required to either be on task or packed up and back on the floor, or whatever the requirement is.

Boys struggle with, continued Michael, rules, concepts of time, reflection, expression of emotion and educational success for boys is strongly pillared on their self-esteem.This couples with Michael’s opening point that life is a physical job, as boys, at five years old, when we send them off to “big school” and expect them to be able to conform to the requirements of sitting still, listening for long periods of time and completing a range of physical tasks which they are unfamiliar with, the research is showing they are less able to sit still, to listen, to concentrate to communicate and that they need variety, stimulation and physical activity. Going back to Jane’s point about student well-being being the central aspect of education in Finland, boys in Finland are not required to start school until they are seven years old.. This comment brought about a few nods of agreement from the audience.

Michael then showed us part of a clip called A Tale of Two Brains by Mark Gungor, which talked about the difference between men’s and women’s brains, and therefore how they think. We only watched a short portion, but I have included the full clip below.

Michael also recommended that we access a copy of The Female Brain by Louann Brizendine and also the counterpart to that book, The Male Brain, by the same author.

It was about here that we broke for lunch and networking, and so it is here that I will stop for today’s article. Thank you for reading, as always, and I would very much like to hear your thoughts on this topic via either the comments section or via Twitter.

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