14 August 2017

Some parents and almost all current Year 12 boys may remember a presentation from Celia Lashlie at Scotch College in 2013. Celia sadly passed away last Monday 16 February following a battle with cancer. Celia Lashlie's experiences as the first female prison officer in a men's prison in New Zealand, as a mother and as a social researcher as part of the Good Man project in New Zealand had her well placed to offer grounded, common-sense advice based on lived experience. Experiences she shared with us and in her book, He'll Be OK: Growing Gorgeous Boys into Good Men.

Celia offered parents practical advice on navigating the years of adolescence. She likened these years to boys being between two gates, one childhood the other manhood. Our challenge as parents and educators is that the distance between the gates is wide, as much as ten years. One day your son is offering a mature and considered opinion, the next he hasn't thought beyond the immediate and is acting like … well, a young boy.

Key messages from Celia's presentations have stayed with many of us in attendance. She spoke of loyalty amongst boys and how this loyalty can become a driving force of group behaviour. In her words, "one boy - one brain, two boys - half a brain." She described how so many decision made by adolescent boys are made in thirty-second moments and yet the consequences are significant and potentially long-term. For example, running an orange traffic light or a physical response to a verbal provocation.

There is no doubt that an impulsive decision can bring with it significant, long term consequences, but what does this mean for us as parents and teachers? Celia's message was clear. Let our boys make decisions and let them learn from the consequences. If we make decision for our boys, rush to their defense or perform tasks that they are more than capable of doing themselves, we have denied them the opportunity to learn. Far more important to learn the consequences of impulsive and group decisions now while they have their parents and teachers to act as safety nets than to learn these lessons later in life. If your son receives a detention for not making a commitment, not wearing the correct uniform or he loses marks for handing an assignment in late, seize the opportunity to teach him the consequences for his decisions. Not to teach the lessons of accountability and responsibility is to not prepare our boys for life.

Dr Rob McEwan

Head of Senior School