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Thursday, 7 March 2013

Post #1 - So, You Wanna Run Away and Join the Circus, Already?

Well, before you pack it all in for a clown suit and shovel for the elephant-you-know-what, let me tell you that I love, love, LOVE teaching boys, and I have 15 years under my belt to prove it. 


In fact, if I do the math – without fear and trembling because oh-my, how fast 15 years goes by! – I have taught over 500 boys!  And never once did I stand outside my classroom door or on a home school family's porch with fear and trepidation, take a deep, looong breath, "talk myself off the ledge," and enter pale and bewildered into their boys' lairs of noise, spit balls, jostlings, defiances, and protests.  There's just something about a boy's energy, a boy's edge, that intrigues me, and granted that while not all teachers embraced the body odors, sweaty gym shoes, tousled hair, and the under-the-breath innuendos, I did.  (I DO freely admit, however, that my challenges involved most things pink, frilly, that had to do with hurt feelings, on-again-off-again friendships, and wordy-wordy-will-it-ever-end-wordy explanations of things .)

My son, this little stinker's dad, thinks I fool around too much in the toy store...

So, we all belong somewhere and have someone who wants or needs to belong to us. Fortunately for me, as a teacher both in the regular classroom and within the homeschooling community, I have the pleasure of hanging out with boys from 5 to 15 years old, and I have the opportunity to watch and learn, and I have the blessing of offering what I've learned to the boys, their moms, and even some teachers.

So, here we go with "Boys Can SO Write" because in all my years of teaching classes and workshops, I have never heard a parent or teacher complain that their boys hated gym or science.  Rather, you could see it in their eyes that if they had some gasoline and a match, gone would be the dictionary, thesaurus, pencil and eraser, the stack of lined paper, and the dreaded red pen!  Poof!  A bonfire to make the Spanish inquisition fires look like a wieney roast. 

           Boys seem, for the most part, to hate writing.  So I've been told.

Boys HATE coming up with ideas.  So I've been told.


Boys HATE using big words.  So I've been told.  And using a dictionary?  For sure!
           Boys HATE editing.  So I've been told.

They hate working on a piece of writing to polish it up crisp like a shiny apple.  I've been told.

They would prefer to set it on fire, or feed it to the goat, or line the cat litter box with whatever they've laborious written than read it aloud to someone, or show it to someone.  I've been told.

If they could scale Mount Everest on one leg or poke an alligator in the eye with a pin rather than write, they would!  I've been told.


If they could chop off their arm and swim the English Channel with a girl sitting on their back rather than write a short story about their summer holidays or an adventure in an attic with a trunk of old clothes and a set of mysterious animal tracks in the dust, they would!  I've been told.


OK, you get it; I've heard it all.  Yet in my 15 years of teaching boys writing, I can honestly say that I saw very little of all of that. 

Did I see fear?  Yes. 

Did I see reluctance?  Yes. 

Did I see resistance, sweat, tears, and lack of self-confidence?  Yes, yes, and yes!

And boredom?  Yes!   Oh, and yes, yes, and yes!  Yes, yes, and yes!  And yes, yes, and yes!


But I also saw the back of their eyeballs light up with delight – OK, not delight because that's too girly a word , they would say– so their eyes would explode with mischievousness!  I witnessed many a time as they stood up in front of the class their eyes peer tentatively over the edge of their page, looking for nods of approval.  They would carefully enunciate long words, perhaps the meaning of which they had already forgotten but the bliss of finding the looooooongest one in the group remained.  They would roll out verbs to leave your spine tingle, like detonate, burn rubber, pilfer, and snigger.  And with much pride they would offer a grandpa or favorite uncle, or their garbage collector or mayor, a letter or essay, certain that their efforts would change the world.



"How?" you ask.  "Please, for all things sacred, tell me how before I pack my tatty ol' nighty and a toothbrush and run away to join a circus?!  I can't stand this anymore!"


OK, here's how, for starters.  Let's get going on this wee little journey over the next few weeks, taking your time to understand and then implement.  After all, all those little boys didn't build Rome in a day.




 Stay tuned.....  I LOVE sharing with you!



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