Actively Positive

Actively Positive

Thursday, 28 July 2016  | Ben - Assistant Primary Coordinator and Senior Primary Coordinator
Recently you may have seen articles in the newsletter relating to our ‘Positive Boys’ and ‘Empowering Girls’ programs that run for Year 6 students - and I bet you wanted to know more about these great programs and how they tie in with what we are trying to do at MECS!

The focus of this editorial is Positive Boys, run for Year 6 boys.   My role, as I see it, is to help these young men be the best image bearers of Christ that they can be; with Positive Boys being one of the many tools that MECS uses to help facilitate this.

Positive Boys is run for Senior Primary boys (and Empowering Girls is run for the girls) once a week for two periods in both a whole and small group setting. It incorporates a number of the goals from the MECS Transformational Education model, with which you may be familiar. In this model, each of the letters of ‘Transformational’ represents a core understanding of Christian teaching and learning. I will focus on a couple of these throughout my unpacking of Positive Boys, but first let me explain a bit about what actually happens in the program.

The Positive Boys program begins with a challenge day at Camp Oasis. The boys work in teams to complete an array of challenges including archery, flying fox, ropes course and initiatives. The day focuses on teamwork, communication and the building of camaraderie between the boys before we get into the term ahead. The grand finale of the day is the ‘Crate Climb’ where boys are strapped into a harness and get to see how many crates they can stack on top of one another without falling off. You can see that the Transformational Eucation element of Active Learning runs deep already, giving students immersion in rich, new experiences, discovering learning through teamwork and being taken outside of their comfort zones.

Throughout the remainder of the term, the boys have the opportunity to design and build their own Billy Carts. For some, this is the first time they have built something on a larger scale in a team setting. It caters for the boys who love using tools as well as the artistic members of each group who have the opportunity to put forward design ideas for their decorations on their team’s billy cart. This component of the program lends itself to the Adventurous Methodologies part of the Transformational model. The building of carts in teams stimulates a rich range of learning responses from the experience of discovery, curiosity and discernment as well as the experiences of awe, wonder and delight.

While building carts is one component of the program, there is also a 10-15 timeslot at the start of each session to share together in devotions. The aim of this time is to give these young men an opportunity to discuss what ‘being a man’ really means in today’s society, with a focus on biblical teaching, as well as to discuss and challenge some of the misconceptions and stereotypes that go along with being a ‘bloke’ in today’s world. I see this as a vitally important part of the program as soon, these boys will be people of influence in the community and leading the next generation.

While I get to do a lot of the talking and sharing, equally as important are some of the other men who come in as guest speakers, or to help us with the hands-on component of the program in building the carts. Peter, Steve, Simon, Jason and Tim have all had a part to play in the program this year. Pastor Liam also joined us at the start of the unit as our guest speaker. It is essential for the boys to be surrounded by positive role models, not only in the school setting but also through influential guest speakers from the community. All these men who invest their time and teachings into the program, are such an invaluable resource.

When the carts are all finished and looking like they have just rolled off the showroom floor, we take them out and compete in our annual Billy Cart Race. The boys get to complete a circuit of a part of our school grounds and also compete in a time challenge race as well around a smaller circuit.
The program culminates in a significant evening with the boys inviting their dads, or other significant male, along to ‘Bloke’s Night’. The boys get to challenge their dads in a MECS-favourite game of ‘Skittles’, and then share in some time together asking one another questions and discussing what they love and appreciate in one another. This challenges stereotypes and ‘male norms’ giving the men and their Positive Boys a chance to communicate together and share openly. Personally, I know communication for men can sometimes be a struggle but with this approach we allow boys and their men a chance to be intentional in what they share.

We all then enjoy a BBQ together with the boys and the school being able to bless the men with a nice meal and time of community. The Relational Community aspect of the Transformational model is evident here with boys and their significant males continuing to build relationships in a nurturing environment, along with staff who have contributed to the program.

To top the night off, the Billy Carts are auctioned off, with all proceeds going to Jinja Christian School in Uganda.

Finally, my passion for Positive Boys is that it reflects the Transformational goal of Student Oriented - each student is seen as a unique individual, made in God’s image and gifted by him.

While the Positive Boys program changes and develops each year, it continues to be a highlight for both the boys and the staff involved. I am passionate and excited about the growth I see in the boys each year, and love having the opportunity to implement some of the goals of Transformational education into my teaching via this program. 

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