By Rifaq Azhar –
It is widely observed that the boys’ education in our country is in huge dilemma due to prevailing socio economic tendencies in the country. I would say it is not the root cause; rather it is a knock on effect. Gurian Institute of America which is one of kind advocates for boys’ education in the USA has published numerous researches on this subject matter. The institute predominantly aims at creating awareness on the crisis that boys encounter not only in school but in life as well. The institute shared its views on male education that are perfect grasping of a deeply seated crisis. Here, I would like to share some of the research findings of Gurian Institute anticipating to be beneficial to like-minded people.
While I highly appreciate the appraisal and observations of experts in respect of the crisis of boys’ education and its gravity and also greatly value their contributions and commitments towards the advancement of boys’ education as well, I would like to share some of the scientific facts that delineated in those publications. I am of the view that the socioeconomic aspects prevail in our society are merely effects but not root causes. Those publications discuss the crisis in boys’ education and its root causes in depth. Literally, we failed to get down to the nitty-gritty of the crisis and address it collectively. The institute highlights that the crisis of male education is the consequence of wrong perception about boys’ nature and their energy, inappropriate nurturing and unfavourable education system. Unless we realise the root causes of the crisis and its vibrant impact on the society, aspiring positive changes in boys’ education is merely a mirage.
Understanding boys’ energy
In the modern era, the perception towards boys and masculine culture has been tremendously changed on account of gender politics paving the way for peculiar culture which is inimical to boys’ instincts and their biological tendencies. In fact, this culture has annihilated gender specific attention and consequently created a turbulent mind among boys. That is to say, boys have been caught up in the whirlwind of this peculiar culture. Thus, they encounter painful sufferings, strange values, disparities and a great deal of confusion. One of the mistakes we tend to make is that we predominantly depend on ‘female brains’ standards to evaluate boys or enmeshing male development with female culture undermining very male ways and their energies.
Here, we must retrospectively think of nurturing a boy. Prior to the advent of the industrial era, our ancestors had profound knowledge about the biological facts and therefore, they paid gender specific attention while fostering their kids. More categorically, they raised their children based on their nature giving prominence to their respective energies with much care and love. Back then, boys were neither coddled nor received abusive discipline by their mentors. They were attributed to bravery searching for love to be good and truthfulness and also aspired to empathy and clear consequence behind all their endeavours. As a result, they were able to succeed in connecting biology to spirituality and also creating civilized nations.
Before we get to know about masculinity or masculine culture, we must understand the actual nature of a boy which is determined primarily by biological factors beyond external social assumptions such as socialization and individual personalities. Such comprehensive understanding will help us to conceptualize boys’ learning energy and also to adopt male friendly approaches accordingly. To put this into perspective, both genders inherited different structures of brains, hormones and psychological compositions in terms of processing feelings and emotions. These biological facts, which were wired in both male and female, will determine who boys and girls are and how both genders will act in line with their nature.
Neuroscience revealed that boys’ energy is determined by three biological factors namely testosterone, structure of male brain and the way male process feelings and emotions. The prime mover of maleness is testosterone which gives boys male brain and constructs how a boy thinks. It also affects boys’ processing of feelings and emotions to a greater extent. Aggression, dynamism, feeling of independence, competitiveness and desire for quick gratification, problem solving and quick release of tension are some of the remarkable features of testosterone.
Due to these biological facts, the male brain works completely differently to that of the female brain enabling male brain to think and act uniquely unlike the female brain. It has been proven that the male brain was wired for gross motor skill stimulating more physical movements and spatial mechanical activities which bring out high object manipulation skills, spatial task activities, abstraction skills, and quick visual fixing. When compared to the female brain, male brain is certainly hardwired for singular task instead of multiple by the time it is not good at verbal, sensory, emotional and empathy skills. It clearly shows that boys have certain kinds of learning energies which cannot commensurate with girls’ learning styles. Hence, male learning style on average relies more heavily on physical movement, adventurous, risk taking and experiential methods such as impulsive trial and error and also less monotony of words.
It is very common that boys learn through playing games, use of tools, and forming teams due to their natural inclination. It is also proven that boys learn each and every minute beyond classroom teaching and moreover they learn while they are inside the womb. Biologically, boys, on average, are very good at imagination, visualization, day dream, holistic thinking, intuition, art, non-verbal cues and rhythm. Meantime, they need or use far more space to recreate their brains. For instance they are always willing to go outside to play games or engage in any recreational activities which stimulate their gross motor skills. Therefore, male brains will be more active and feel comfort if they are allowed to be outside of the classroom.
Besides, they pay less attention unlike girls or look at an object for a shorter but more active period than girls do. The male brain is more likely than the female brain to get bored or sleep if his learning style was replaced by females’ style of learning. Female brain is very good at verbal communication skills due to their brain structure. Therefore, they are ahead of boys in reading and writing which the present system of education heavily depends on. Hence, it is our primary responsibility to understand boys’ energy and proclivities, their actual brain structure and how it works and their minds and how they think and process feelings and emotions before nurturing them.
Unfortunately, nowadays, we are running behind false gender myths on pretext of patriarchal society. Contemporary culture created a perception that girls have life much worse than boys. In fact, both genders have their own painful sufferings due to gender politics and subsequent exploitation. It does not degrade the dignity of female and glorify male, but to create awareness on boys’ painful sufferings and their hidden stressors. Another false myth is that boys are inherently flawed creatures bearing violent and abusive instincts. Neuroscience revealed that boys are actually aggressive and dynamic due to their Testosterone. Therefore, the aggression and dynamism are basically inbuilt whereas the violence is instilled by external forces. Similarly, most of us argue that it is entirely parents’ responsibility to raise their sons with rigid rules. It is devoid of truth. Anthropologists reiterate that a whole village including parents, extended family and tribes should take the reins of raising their sons. These false gender myths are relatively dangerous not only for boys but also for the entire society. These cultural forces created suspicion, misconception and injustice to both genders in the name of equality since both genders have been deviated from their natural proclivities and biological tendencies.
Briefly, all children are unique and individual and have an instinct to learn constantly as long as their energies are nurtured well. As we know, we cannot change the brain of a boy into the brain of a girl due to persons’ genetic personalities and brain structure. Therefore, boys and girls are not equal in terms of biological factors and subsequent roles each is supposed to play in the society. It is our prime duty to come out of false myths and understand the actual nature and energies of boys. Nowadays boys are unable to feel real, brave and truthful due to confusion and hidden stressors. We have a choice either to overlook their sufferings and undermine their inherited energies or channel them effectively.
In this background, we should therefore realise two facts. Primarily, we should realise our fundamental responsibility which revolves around knowing who and what boys are and their very male ways. It is no doubt that understanding how a boy’s energy really works helps us to love him and then adapt appropriate ways of nurturing conducive to him taking better care of his energies and proclivities. Besides, we should alter our perception towards masculine culture and moreover stop fearing it. Rather, we should empower ourselves to nurture our boys based on their nature and preserve their energy lest they fall behind in life and lose their prospects. If we train these male brains as the way it requires, they can help us not only to protect their life but also to flourish them spiritually and morally.
Unfortunately, political and cultural perspectives of society squash the dialogue about gender differences and biological tendencies on pretext of gender equality. Many mentors are afraid to voice their concern openly over the boys’ sufferings due to gender politics. In fact, we have avoided one danger, but replaced it with another. Therefore, masculine culture should get to go in order to protect male brains. Therefore, we should encourage dialogues on boys’ sufferings as well as their potentialities to understand actual nature of boys.
*Rifaq Azhar has been serving in the diplomatic mission of Sultanate of Oman-Colombo. He pursues his post graduate studies in the field of International Relations and Diplomacy. He has contributed to Colombo Telegraph and Daily FT. He is very much interested in the fields of child education and International politics. He firmly believes in academic research and visual arts for social transformation