News » Whistler

No escaping that boys learn differently than girls

Renowned speaker in Whistler to share insights on raising successful boys



They turn sticks into weapons, enjoy knocking down their block towers and love to tussle in a good roughhousing session.

Yes, boys can often be defined by their rambunctious behaviour.

But, said renowned “boy” expert Barry MacDonald, the male of the species is far, far more than just energy and aggression and if parents and teachers want to get the most out of them then an understanding of today’s boys is a must.

MacDonald, an author, former teacher and counsellor, will offer some insight into today’s males at a free event Thursday, Oct. 5 th at 7 p.m. at Whistler Secondary School. Babysitting is available.

“It is really understanding boys that leads us to appreciate them and mentor them and guide them,” said MacDonald who was recently identified as one of the 25 Influential People to Watch by the Vancouver Sun.

“I am going to challenge parents and teachers to look at boys strengths and see a boy not as hyper, but as energetic, and channel the energy, channel the testosterone, so that he can be successful.”

MacDonald has gathered together some of his key findings and insights into a book, Boy Smarts – Mentoring Boys for Success at School. It offers 100 tips for helping boys find success. But it also offers a glimpse inside the psyche of a boy.

One key revelation is to understand that boys show anxiety in unique ways. Many don’t want to make eye contact, they fidget, shift from foot to foot — all behaviours most adults associate with a defensive attitude and even arrogance.

By simply recognizing this tense situations can be diffused.

The tendency of boys to be rambunctious, especially in a school setting, has also caused problems.

“They have these active learning patterns that can be seen as threatening,” said MacDonald, pointing to a trend by parents, educators and others to label boys with behaviour disorders such as Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyper Activity disorder.

“These boys… have more physical forms of bonding and connecting that are just much more gregarious and they are perceived as aggression.

“We can be too quick to write these boys off as unteachable when what we need to do is focus on how we are responding.”

There is no doubt that boys have more behaviour problems in schools, they are more likely to be implicated in bullying and harassment. They are more frequently absent from school, more likely to be suspended, more likely to be assigned a special education or severe behaviour category, and they are less likely to go to university. Boys are more likely to drop out of school and sadly, boys are more likely to do serious harm to themselves.