Men, I would like to ask you a favor. It only requires you to do what you do best – think like a guy. I guess I will begin by giving you my motivations for writing this post and asking this of you.
First and foremost, I am a female. It’s as simple as that. I always hear guys say they don’t understand women, and I totally get it; we are complicated creatures with complicated feelings and ways of thinking and acting that even we don’t understand most of the time! But the same goes for guys; I admit, you seem much more simple, laid-back, and easy to read, but sometimes you make it difficult because (this is my theory, so you can correct me if you disagree) you don’t want to hinder your masculinity or the way people view you as a “manly man”.
Second, I am an educator and have dealt with, am dealing with, and will deal with in the future adolescent and teenage boys. Over the past two-ish years, I have been a student teacher, substitute (per diem and long-term), and am currently a teacher assistant for students ranging from seventh through twelfth grades. So I have been able to witness the difference between the younger boys and the older ones. I admit, they do a lot of growing up in those 5 years (which sometimes may seem unbelievable, but they do).
Third, I hope to have children of my own someday, and I am hoping some of them are boys.
And finally, I have been reading this great book by John Eldredge called Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of A Man’s Soul. In the introduction, Eldredge speaks about the purpose of the book, saying, “I believe it will help men get their heart back – and women as well. Moreover, it will help women to understand their men and help them live the life they both want” (p. xii).
So with this said, I want to ask you guys what it was like being a young and/or adolescent boy. Working with my current students (eighth and fifth grade boys) I have been trying to figure out their strengths, weaknesses, what makes them frustrated, what gives them motivation. A lot of the time, I also look for what makes them constantly talk/move and distract/bother others during class, causing the teacher or I to incessantly ask them to “stop [being rude; talking; etc]” or “don’t [hit him; flip the chair upside down; etc]” or whatever. I look at these boys’ behavior not only in terms of math students, but also looking at them as people and if these behaviors stem from something more than just disliking math or disliking school in general.
I try not to nitpick every act of defiance or every little annoyance because, honestly, I would be so tired and I think it would do more harm than good. I understand that boys (and girls, for that matter) would rather go outside and play, or watch TV, or just run around with no purpose. I get that; I was an active kid too. Eldredge addresses three desires that are universal of males: “They may be misplaced, forgotten, or misdirected, but in the heart of every man is a desperate desire for a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue” (p. 9).
So I, in no way, will expect my students or future children to sit perfectly still, not making a peep, for more than 10 seconds (unless you make it a game and the winner gets ice cream or a new Tonka truck, or something). I get it; kids need to move and be kids.
So here is where you come in guys (and I completely open the floor to women who have insight as well!). Do you remember what you were like at the middle and high school ages? What makes boys tick? Is there a way to handle “hyperactivity” (medically diagnosed or not), whether you used it on your own students/children or it worked on you growing up? Any other tips or insight into the minds of boys is greatly accepted and appreciated!
Also, I am not even halfway through this book, but I highly recommend it to guys and girls alike! Check it out here on Amazon (there’s a Kindle version!).