I recently had the pleasure of speaking via phone with Ed Stephens, the founder of The Foundation for Male Studies. In case you are not familiar with his organization, it is one that promotes the academic study of experiences that are distinctive or unique to men and boys from a view that is – unlike much academic discussion on gender for the past forty years – empathetic to their experiences.
He informed me that his foundation is embarking on a new project: the creation of a new boys’ charter school called Yonker’s Boys, which promotes the “science of the male.” Here is the general idea, according to their website:
The combination of knowledge from the emerging field of male brain science, along with known educational principles, is set to engage boys in a lasting embrace of education, because it works for them.
Education starts in the brain. The brains of males differ from those of females and require a carefully planned encounter with learning to achieve boys’ inborn potential and place them on the path of lifelong learning.
The traditional, “one size fits all” school system doesn’t work for many (some might assert most) children today and it is clear from the statistics that it doesn’t work well for boys. Traditional schools lack the sensitivity to male learning, and the ability to tailor learning plans to the individual learners, rather boys are brought to ‘education’ and expected to learn as if learning was generic and unrelated to the needs of the male learner.
The ‘Yonkers Model’ places the unique needs and strengths of the male brain at the center of its pedagogical model. Programs are tailored to capitalize on boys’ needs for active instructional styles, hands-on learning, inspirational teacher leadership, project-based learning, materials that intrigue boys (particularly technology and gaming), connected with caring teachers and increased kinesthetic movement.
The ‘Yonkers Model’ utilizes the emerging bioscience and neuroscience of maleness, reinforced by the new research to which the ‘Yonkers Model’ lends itself, in a quest, not only to educate those who attend, but also, through their success, to advance a repair of male learning difficulties at all levels of education, by creating a new pedagogy for the dance of learner and learning, to light their fire.
Naturally, I was rather inquisitive regarding which professors, administrators, and community stakeholders would have Ed’s back in creating this school, and who had a substantial hand in shaping the pedagogy behind it. Ed gave me a few names and we discussed their experience and philosophy. I was impressed. Out of respect for his wishes I will refrain from disclosing their names at this time, however.
My views about single-sex schools have been mixed over the past several years, and (I still think) for good reason. However, I have no reservations whatsoever about endorsing a voice that wants to bring to public discussion instructional methods, classroom management, and discipline/conflict resolution strategies that would particularly help boys. The language of the school wanting to “meet boys where they are at” shows that they have the right perspective.
I encourage you to check out their website. We will post more news here as it comes along.