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Where Boys Can Be Boys

Interesting profile of a new boys school in Calgary. I especially like the description of the library:

Principal Garry Jones, himself a father of two boys, has already spent much of August inside the school, preparing classrooms and building a unique, boy friendly library.

Teachers and kids will choose from a good selection of nonfiction reading, with themes that include bugs, snakes, trucks and dinosaurs, along with plenty of action and adventure novels. Graphic novels, which tell stories with large, animated pictures similar to comic strips, will also fill shelves. Jones says he's taken up the challenge of meeting boys' needs in the face of worldwide trends that show more boys than ever opting out of engaging in school as early as Grade 3.

"We're hearing them say things like, 'I don't like school. I don't like reading. Reading is a girl thing.' "

The design of the school, as well at the attitude of the teachers, appears to draw more on intuition than the "science" of brain differences in learning. And that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Two teachers are women and two are men, who all specifically volunteered themselves for the challenges of teaching in a rambunctious boys-only atmosphere.

"We know there will be challenges, there will be lots of energy," says Jones.

"But we're prepared for that.

"The great thing about boys is once they get things out of their system, they let it go. They can be reasonable and they want to learn."

Jones plans to invite many local male role models, from athletes to political leaders, to come and speak with students and stress that there are so many ways to be a boy, and a man.

"We all feel we have to wear this mask of masculinity.

"But we also want to teach them they can be in touch with their emotions, then can be open and sincere."

On the subject of single-sex education, David Chadwell in South Carolina is once again offering graduate courses in setting up single-sex classes. The list:

1. GENDERED TEACHING GRADUATE COURSE: Registration Deadline is September 9. If you need another application or syllabus, let me know.

September 20, 2011
Single-Gender 101: teachers new to single-gender classrooms

October 20, 2011
Next Steps with Single-Gender Classes: taking single-gender classes to the next level

November 10, 2011
Teaching Boys and Girls in Coed Classes: ideas on ways to meet the needs of boys and girls for teachers in coed classes

December 6, 2011
Creating a Single-Gender Program: a workshop for administrators and teacher leaders considering single-gender programs

And finally on that topic, the National Association for Single Sex Public Education is holding its international conference in Orlando, Florida, Oct. 8 and 9.

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