Recently it was my pleasure and privilege to talk about our wonderful BGS boys and programs at the recent conference for the International Boys Schools Coalition. This conference, which was held this year in Montreal, Canada, brings together dedicated boys’ schools from all over the world, and I was able to work closely with colleagues from England, America, South Africa, Spain and New Zealand. It was a wonderful opportunity to share ideas and celebrate the good work happening in educating boys all over the globe.
I presented on two key programs here at BGS. Firstly, on a research project I undertook on Positive Masculinity and male role models with the boys who were in last year’s Year 10 cohort. I had a wonderful experience working with these boys, each of whom was a wonderful peer mentor to a boy in Year 7. The project saw us shifting the conversation away from telling boys how NOT to behave, to celebrating the examples of good men in their lives and in the texts they engage with. These boys then told their peer mentees about the men who influenced them – my favourite story came from a young man who celebrated his father’s virtues of forgiveness and mercy when he found a young man stealing from one of their rental properties. Instead of embracing anger, he spoke kindly to the young man about his choices and gave him an opportunity to change his behavior. What a stunning example to set the young men of today.
I was touched by the honesty, the openness and the desire to mentor in the young men I worked with, and I thank them all for their contributions and the time they spent reflecting upon the ideas presented in the project. The work was looked upon very favourably by audience members, who got an opportunity to see exactly how we Grow Good Men at Berwick Grammar School.
I also presented on a subsequent day on boys and reading, talking about our DEAR Program, Readers are Leaders, our Book nooks, and the ways in which we use reading and stories to promote leadership and positive male role models. A visit to any of our assemblies will show you just how strong our community of readers is – when each speaker displays the book they are reading, and how these books often spark interesting points of discussion and debate.
It was wonderful to share our progress and ideas at this setting. I also came back with even more – many inspired by the focus on the role of The Arts in boy’s sense of identity and belonging, which was the focus of the conference. No doubt we will share more about this as time goes on!
Ms Lauren Cook
Head of Senior Boys, Wellbeing