Boys natural exuberance and energy levels can sometimes be mistaken for over confidence. With many boys, their love of kinaesthetic play masks a slowly developing level of self-confidence. In a group, they play boisterously but when standing in the spotlight, or having to engage in one to one conversations, this can be challenging. As boys reach the adolescent years, their loyalty to and love of their ‘mates’ is incredibly strong, and this is normally displayed through physical acts such as arm-punches, slaps on the back, fist pumps….but less so through the use of words. Combine this with the fact that many boys’ primary intelligence is non-verbal, meaning they do not cope well with long periods sitting at a desk, simply doing listening, speaking, reading and writing practice. Rather, they learn best by doing, moving, making, touching and seeing.
We have always found that specific opportunities to promote speaking, and in front of others, develops our boys language skills, speech and confidence.
We are continually encouraging our boys to understand the importance of language, to ensure that they don’t mask their emotions, so they realise that they must communicate, and to assist them to develop into eloquent, verbally confident young men.
Each week in our Prep-Year 2 Assemblies, two or three of our students present a prepared talk on a topic of their choice…in the past this has ranged from holidays to sport to pets to the Solar System. I am always amazed at the confidence these young boys display…talking for 5 minutes, then asking questions, of an audience of 40 children and many parents.
Next week in our Year 3-6 assembly, our Year 6 boys will present, to our Junior School, their political party speeches, one aspect of their current unit on Government.
We certainly believe that boys learn differently to girls, but we don’t believe that their language or confidence is less….it just needs to be developed through different, targeted avenues.
I meet many ‘Old Boys’ in many different circumstances, and I am always struck by their confidence, respect and loyalty to their school. It is just another element of what makes working with our boys so wonderful.