Single-Sex Schools help Boys to enjoy Arts?

Boys’ schools are the perfect place to teach young men to express their emotions and are more likely to get involved in activities such as art, dance and music, according to research released today. Far from the traditional image of a culture of aggressive masculinity in which students either sink or swim, the absence of girls gives boys the chance to develop without pressure to conform to a stereo­type, the US study says. Boys at single sex schools were said to be more likely to get involved in cultural and artistic activities that helped develop their emotional expressiveness, rather than feeling they had to conform to the "boy code" of hiding their emotions to be a "real man".

Photo by Rachel Papo

The report, presented at a conference of the International Boys’ Schools Coalition in London attended by the heads of private and state schools, goes against received wisdom that boys do better when taught alongside girls. The headmaster of Eton, Tony Little, warned that boys were being failed by the British education system because it had become too focused on girls. He criticised teachers for failing to recognise that boys are actually more emotional than girls, despite the fact that girls "turn on the waterworks".

The research argued that boys often perform badly in mixed schools because they become demoralised when their female counterparts do better earlier in verbal skills and reading, because the left side of the brain develops faster in girls. They also felt they had to be "cool" rather than studious. But in single sex schools teachers are able to tailor lessons to boys’ learning style, letting them move around the classroom and getting them to compete in teams to prevent boredom, wrote the study’s author, education expert Abigail James, of the University of Virginia.

Teachers could encourage boys to enjoy reading and writing with specifically "boy-focused" approaches such as themes and characters that appeal to them. Boys in boys’ schools "loved" to pen verse because they enjoyed the "inherent structure in poems", James said. Because, the researchers say, boys generally have better spatial skills, more acute vision, learn best through touch, are more impulsive and more physically active, they need to be given "hands-on" lessons where they are allowed to walk around, with this natural impulse not seen as disruptive. "Boys in mixed schools view classical music as feminine and prefer the modern genre in which violence and sexism are major themes," James wrote. Single sex education also made it less likely that boys would feel they had to conform to a stereotype gained from the media by girls that men should be "masterful and in charge" in relationships. "In the present sexualised atmosphere prevalent in mixed schools, boys feel coerced into acting like men before they understand themselves well enough to know what that means," the report said. [via The Guardian]


191 Stars in a Diary

A mother who had sex with a 12-year-old boy nearly 200 times has been arrested; she was found to have kept a diary of her encounters, with each of 191 times the pair had sex marked off with a star. The 36-year-old unemployed single mother began the relationship by seducing the boy with alcohol, and then proceeding to have regular sex with him over a 10 month period, sending her own son away where necessary so the couple could go about their business undisturbed at home. Reportedly the woman kept a diary detailing her encounters with the boy, with each time the pair had sex marked with a star – 191 in all. It is said that for his 100th successful performance she bought him a pair of trainers. The boy didn’t seem too unhappy about all this: He bragged about it in chat rooms and told several friends about his adventures. [via Sankaku Complex & Daily Mail]


The Armoire

In this short film from Canada Aaron plays a game of Hide and Seek in which his friend Tony is never found. The mystery of their relationship — and of their queer attachment to the armoire in Aaron’s bedroom — can only be revealed, it turns out, through hypnosis. At once a comedy, a mystery and a melodrama, Jamie Travis’ The Armoire is the resounding finale to his Saddest Children in the World trilogy (which includes "Why the Anderson Children Didn’t Come to Dinner" and "The Saddest Boy in the World").

Through magnificent art direction, Jamie Travis brings us another poignant children’s tale, eerily capturing a young boy’s struggle to hide his secrets. I was particularly impressed with this film for its cohesive unique vision.  The story was eerie, sad and moving and the tone was supported seamlessly by the shooting style as well as the crisp, beautiful art direction.

The Armoire Trailer


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