But whereas, covid may have brought these problems into focus, covid has not created these problems as much as it has exacerbated pre-existing ones.
The emotional well-being of students provides the essential foundation for their successful education. Intellectual understanding as well as the absorption of knowledge is very much determined by the emotional engagement or disengagement in those processes. The interplay between intellect and emotion determines both functionality as well as dysfunctionality.
The last decades have seen an ever-growing problem of boys disengaging from school. This is reflected by the growing number of boys in special and modified academic programs, requiring behavioral intervention and being diagnosed with learning deficiencies. In all of these areas they are reflected in a grossly disproportionate manner as compared with girls. Significant also are the growing statistics of boys not completing high school and the seemingly ever decreasing number of boys entering university as opposed to girls. Approaching these issues from the point of addressing learning from an intellectual point of view is far from adequate.
Clearly what is needed is emotional support not in the form of guaranteeing success or eliminating competition, but rather in building the confidence to take on challenges. In environments in which boys find no validation, self-invalidation is sure to follow along with other issues such as disengagement, depression, and anxiety disorders.
Encouraging and empowering young men to take on problems
involves developing the resilience to tackle challenges through encouragement and counselling. The abilities to self-regulate and reflectively assess actions relative to their desired results and readjust accordingly are essential life skills. The equating of school performance with actual ability can be a poor measure of any student. However, many boys end up believing that they are what they see on their report card. A sense of hopelessness is easy to develop and become the self-limiting measure of one’s own worth.
The program at Robert Land Academy has long understood the importance of social emotional learning and has provided a program intended to provide recognition and validation within an environment that publicly recognizes both effort and achievement while developing the confidence needed to tackle and to overcome challenges. While addressing the fundamental building blocks of diet, exercise, and sleep as well as the need to constructively interact directly with their peers, boys are encouraged to develop a positive attitude towards others, themselves, and their future.