by Latoya Burnham
A St. Lucy school is tackling the issue of boys’ performance head on – and not just at the Common Entrance level.
Principal at Selah Primary, Maxine Husbands told Barbados TODAY that from this term they were actually going to be focussing on finding ways to keep the boys especially, interested in education.
Though she clarified that this did not mean the girls would be pushed in the background, the educator said after years at the boys school Milton Lynch Primary and before at Deacons, she and other teachers had made some observations that could help.
“We are actually looking at it in a unique way in that we are actually looking to see how boys tick. We realise that in most cases boys are the ones who are that step behind and we don’t think they are any less intelligent. It’s just that just as we are doing our research we are finding out that they just need to do different activities from what we have been exposing them to.
“So whereas a girl may come into a classroom and sit down and right away she is focussed on what she is doing, for a boy it may take a little bit more time. He may need to get up and walk around … that sort of thing. So right now that is one of the things that we are concentrating on, looking to see what would make boys enjoy school more as opposed to making them do whatever, the usual thing that they do,” she said.
The object, she noted was to make it more exciting for them while allowing them to learn as well.
“It is a project we are now embarking on and right now we are building up our research, so to speak. Even thought it is now beginning, certain things are jumping out at us in terms of how lessons must be planned, the different activities boys need. So we are making that part of our strategy – not that we are going to single them out from the girls because these things will also benefit the girls as well. So we are looking at that.”
How this approach supports single-sex versus co-education, Husbands pointed out that she did not believe it absolutely necessary for either sex to be educated separately.
“I don’t think it is necessary and that has also come from working at Milton Lynch. Here we had 600 boys in one school, another 600 girls in another school yet still the girls were outperforming the boys. So I don’t think that it is separating them so to speak. I think putting girls with boys helps the boys. It keeps them settled…
“I don’t think it is strictly necessary. If it happens it happens, but what needs to happen is that we need to cater, whether they are mixed or separate, make sure we cater to everyone, both sexes. I think we should have such programmes on a wider scale so a school like Milton Lynch and St. Leonard’s Boys’ should have certain resources that would make life easier for them,” said the principal of 38 years in the service.
And she said, it would not simply be a study on boys, but an entire approach that would complement what they have been doing through the Child Friendly Programme.
“I see it as an ongoing process. I don’t think we will ever have enough knowledge about this. Also this year we are joining the schools that are into the SPBMP – Schools’ Positive Behaviour Management Programme, formerly called the Child Friendly Programme. We decided, apparently Barbados is the only country that has decided to adopt the name change because they are saying schools were always friendly to children … We are now into that officially. We were into parts of it before, but from this year we are now officially one of those schools and that also is also tailor-made for the way boys learn. We have discovered, are discovering how boys learn.
“I’m hoping we can become some kind of centre for excellence for that kind of thing. Whatever we learn of course we are willing to share with other schools. Of course I know that other schools are embarking on similar programmes. As a matter of fact, being at Milton Lynch was what gave me the idea.
“Having 600 boys to deal with every day, it kinda hits you, you know what, we need to change something slightly. We need to make a slight change for these boys to benefit more – not that some of these boys won’t come out on top because whatever you do of course there will be high-flyers. But I found there were too many missing something, but that sent me thinking and one or two of the teachers joined me as well.”
One of the teachers at her old school had even done a study on it that provided some ideas as to how to take such a programme forward, Husbands pointed out. [email protected]