Positive Boys

Positive Boys

Thursday, 26 April 2018  | Ben - Primary Coordinator, SP Cluster Leader and SP Teacher

In Year 6, we run some awesome programs, one of which is ‘Positive Boys’.  This program, (along with ‘Empowering Girls’) is run for Year 6 boys (and girls) once a week for two periods in both a whole and small group setting. So why have this program and how does it relate to the values of MECS?

MECS’ approach to education is driven by and outlined in the book Transformational Education, which was developed by the MECS Teaching and Learning Team a number of years ago, under the wise guidance of the late Harry Burggraaf. If you are new to the MECS community or have not yet read this book, I highly recommend it to help you understand the bigger picture behind our Educational Philosophies. For a quick summary, “Seeing the bigger picture, appreciating the bigger story are the building blocks for developing a particular vision of the Kingdom of God for education.” The book outlines the 16 core understandings of Christian teaching and learning. I will focus on a couple of these throughout my unpacking of the Positive Boys program.

The Positive Boys program starts with a challenge day at Camp Oasis in Mount Evelyn. This year, both the girl’s and boy’s challenge day will run parallel on the same date, in separate spaces. Here, the boys work in teams to complete an array of challenges including archery, flying fox, ropes course and various initiatives, all of which challenge the students in some way. The day focuses a lot on teamwork, communication and building camaraderie between the individual groups before we get into the term ahead. The grand finale of the day is the ‘Crate Climb’ where students are strapped into a harness and get to see how many crates they can stack on top of one another without falling off. One of the transformational characteristics of Active Learning runs deep already, giving students immersion in rich, new experiences, discovering learning through teamwork and stepping 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 chance they have had to build 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 cart paintwork. It gives the boys an opportunity to learn a few skills and practice using a drill or hammer! This component of the program lends itself to the Adventurous Methodologies element of Transformational Education. 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 a component of the program, there is also time 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 really feel this is a vitally important part of the program as soon, these boys will be significant people of influence and will lead the next generation and their communities.

While I get to do a lot of the talking and sharing with the boys, equally as important are the other men who come and either share with the boys as a guest speaker, or help us in the hands-on component of the program in building the carts. Peter, Steve, Simon, Jason and Tim will all have a part to play in the program this year. We have also had Pastor Liam join us at the start of the unit as our guest speaker. It is essential that the boys be surrounded by positive role models, not only from the school setting but also by influential guest speakers from the community.

When the carts are all finished and looking like they have just rolled off the showroom floor, we take them out on the last day of term and compete in our annual Billy Cart Race. The boys complete a circuit of a part of our school grounds and compete in a time challenge race, as well as around a smaller circuit.

The program finishes with the boys inviting their dads, or other significant role model, along to ‘Bloke’s Night’. The boys challenge the men in a MECS favourite game of ‘Skittles’. Every year the boys think that their experience and athleticism in this game gives them the edge over the men; more often than not, the men win.  The Relational Community aspect of the Transformational Approach is evident here, with the boys and their significant males sharing some time together and asking each other some questions about what they love and appreciate in one another. This challenges stereotypes and ‘male norms’ giving the men and their boys a chance to communicate together and share openly. For me personally, I know communication for men can sometimes be a struggle; this approach allows boys and their dads/significant males a chance to be intentional in sharing. We all then enjoy a BBQ together, with the boys being able to bless these significant males with a nice meal and time of community.

To top the night off, the Billy Carts are auctioned off, with all money raised going towards a significant charity or organisation. 

My passion is for the Positive Boys program to be implemented in a Transformational way, and for it to be Student 
Oriented - where each learner is seen as a unique individual, made in God’s image and gifted by Him. 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 inspire this.


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