Message from Scott Cowie, Head, Senior Division
Upcoming Senior Division Dates:
- Friday, Dec. 2: Festive Marketplace
- Friday, Dec. 2-Wednesday, Dec. 7: IB2 Exam Preparation Week
- Thursday, Dec. 8: IB2 Exam Tutorial Day
- Friday, Dec. 9: IB2 Exams Begin
The school’s biggest classroom, Laidlaw Hall, was the site of some important learning during Monday morning’s assembly. The boys heard messages about “manhood” from three different men.
First up, Principal Sam McKinney reflected on the notion of mentoring and its impact on forming character. According to his personal experience, “to be a good man, you have to know a good man.” Next, the boys heard from David Brown, the head coach of our varsity football team who spoke of his young son, fondly telling the boys how his little boy loves to dance, and the joy that comes with that for him as a father. He went further to share his concerns about the future, and about a time that likely will come when his son will be told by someone else – an adult, or one of his peers – how boys “behave” and how he fears that dancing might not factor into that conversation.
Finally, our guest speaker Jeff Perera, from NextGenMen spoke about traditional notions of masculinity, describing their toxicity and how they eat away at identity, ultimately making men less than whole. Perera projected the image of French sculptor Bruno Catalano’s piece to drive home his point home. Our boys were asked to challenge their notion of manhood and identity through a series of self-reflection questions:
- Am I the type of person someone would want to be stuck in an elevator with?
- Do I present as a “safe space” for others, especially those who are different from me?
- Do I have the courage to speak up for, and support others in need?
Perera’s talk reminded me of a speaker we had here in assembly a number of years ago. Joe Erhmann is a “big man,” both in the literal and figurative senses. He was an All-Pro defensive line-man for the NFL’s Baltimore Colts during the 1970s and more recently has been a coach of one of the most successful high school football teams in the U.S. Despite his success on the grid-iron, he has gained notoriety in recent years for his work helping youth and adults alike find purpose in their lives through a focus on care and concern for those in need.
On the day he was here, Joe shared his views on what being a real man was all about. He claimed that the vast majority of boys in North America are brought up in a culture where they are expected to conform to certain ideals of manhood that ultimately define who they are and how they should behave. He went on to describe what he perceived as the three most common myths of masculinity:
1. Masculinity is defined by one’s athletic ability
2. Masculinity is defined by the type of women with whom one is involved.
3. Masculinity is defined by the amount of financial or professional success one achieves.
One of the major problems with these myths, according to Joe, is that our cultural perceptions of manliness are based on beliefs that are self-serving. A true man, in Ehrmann’s eyes, is defined by the type of positive, meaningful relationships he develops and maintains as a son, friend, partner, spouse and father.
I’d encourage you to have a conversation with your son about definitions of masculinity and what it means to be a real man.
Thanks for reading,