Often we are asked, “Why a boys’ school?” “What does the all-boys’ school environment offer that helps boys learn better?” The answer is both complicated and simple. The simple answer is that a boys’ school “knows boys”. This was recently stated by our art teacher, Jackie Knipp, at our back to school night. The complicated answer includes how we define knowing boys and why this matters so much. At Gilman, our teachers love teaching boys. Most have come from schools that were not single sex specifically to work with boys. They love the energy, the boy mindset for solving problems, the competitive spirit, the never-ending curiosity, and the fact that boys can usually shake hands and move on from conflict with ease. Classrooms reflect the love our teachers have for their young boys as well as years of research on what environment best allows a boy to develop as a learner. Our teachers know that boys need to move. They know that boys need structure and routine. They know that boys like to explore first- hear directions after. Projects, hands-on learning, friendly competition, and lots of reinforcement are part of the school life for a Gilman boy. If you need physical proof of how well Gilman knows boys, please stop in on any given day. Watch fourth grade boys singing a complex song whose rhythm changes at the toss of a ball. Or stop into Mrs. Olgeirson’s science class and see the boys examining several tables of objects to classify before going outside to find even more evidence of nature. Mrs. Heegan’s class may be physically walking the compass rose in the courtyard, while the pre-first boys are standing on the Roland Avenue sidewalk counting cars to represent in their giant wall picture graph. I could go on, and I will in future blog posts, but the point is made. A boys’ school like Gilman succeeds by knowing boys, especially the ones we are lucky enough to work with each day.
You may find the following Atlantic Monthly article about boys and learning interesting. In it they mentioned recommended methods for boys’ instruction as interpreted by the International Boys School Coalition. You may recognize some from your son’s experience at Gilman School.
I hope that my communication with you each week encourages “talking points” to inspire weekend conversation with your son or sons. Here are some “talking points” for this weekend.
- What was the message from this week’s Morning Meeting with Dr. Webster? Are you enjoying hearing the harp?
- If you are in Kindergarten- What nursery rhymes have you been working on this week? What did your classmates think of the Humpty Dumpty story? Did you predict correctly about whether your egg would crack?
- If you are in Pre-First- Did you enjoy writing your first journal entry about family? What story did you read with your class and act out as a group- hint it included hats and monkeys!
- If you are in First Grade- Did you enjoy creating with watercolor this week? What will your final watercolor look like- what animals and what environment? I hear that you are studying patterns in math. Can you find some patterns around our house?
- If you are in Second Grade- What pictures of nouns did you take around the lower school?
- If you are in Third Grade- What are some of the terms for landforms that you are learning this week? What research project are you starting that involves using a green screen and camera? What did picture did you create for Madame Giorgis’ bulletin board?
- If you are in Fourth Grade- What sport are you learning about in PE? Have you started swimming yet- will there be water polo games this year?
- If you are in Fifth Grade- What book is your reading group discussing? What is a primary source? What primary source could you share with the class that says something about your family?