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By Mike Pitman, Director of Glengarry

One of the greatest gifts that we can give a boy is the gift of understanding that enables him to navigate a course through life that provides him with an unfolding picture of who he is, who he might be and how he might get there.

Unlike the Song That Never Ends, a boy’s life; although essentially the same from one day to the next; is in subtle ways continually changing as he makes the journey from childhood to adulthood.

Some years back, whilst attending a parent/teacher interview, the teacher said that she couldn’t get over how our boys were all so different. She had taught all our sons but I recall thinking; “Why are you so surprised – they are all different; isn’t that expected?”

The reality is my three sons, along with everyone else’s sons are different in many ways.

With this in mind, consider the proposition: ‘a boy is more complex than his DNA’. DNA doesn’t prescribe or describe the world a boy actually enters into or lives in; it only predetermines some aspects of his capacity to relate and respond to the people, events and circumstances where he lives.

It may be more helpful to concentrate on the other ‘undefined’ factors that shape a boy’s life; the non-biological elements that direct the child into what he will become. Things such as parenting styles, social status, common sense, good and bad, serendipity, luck and so on.

Whatever angle one takes, expressing the ‘undefined’ factors of life usually results in exploring matters of belief and worldview and this ultimately requires answers to questions such as, “Who am I?”, “Where did I come from?”, “Why am I here?” and “Where am I going?” Answering these questions could take a lifetime however, when dealing with boys and young men, one should approach such questions with simple honesty and openness.

To attempt to empower a boy’s enquiring mind without being honest and open is not only a waste of time but will ensure whatever philosophy is being espoused at that time will be dismissed as irrelevant nonsense, if it seems insincere.

In Proverbs 22:6 says “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

There are two parts to this Proverb:

  1. the training of the child

  2. the direction he should take

This may appear to be a directive for a parent that a child needs to have the ‘right way’ impressed on them so that they won’t have any other conflicting direction that presents a serious option for them in later life. Although there is some element of truth to this point, the ancient wisdom is actually directing parents/teachers to train children according to the child’s ‘bias’.

The focus therefore, is not on the child simply ‘towing the party line’ but rather on the parent and teacher knowing their child.

This kind of intimate knowledge will impact the kind of instruction that a parent (or teacher) should give to best shape the direction appropriate to the child.

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