Sunday, August 29, 2010

Boys may benefit from aggressive play

Schools have become battlegrounds between the adults who are repelled by the play violence they see and the children — primarily boys — who are obsessed with pretending to fight, capture, rescue and kill.

While some educators prohibit this behavior, other educators and researchers claim that banishing violent play from classrooms can be harmful to boys. It's a debate entangled in gender issues, since nearly all early-childhood educators are women, and they may be less comfortable than their male counterparts with boys' impulses.

According to Thompson, this reaction often arises from mothers and female teachers who did not grow up playing the way boys play.

"They have a belief — call it an urban myth — that if boys play this way it will desensitize them to violence and they will grow up to be more violent. But it is a misunderstanding of what makes adults violent," Thompson said.


Personally when I see boys horsing around, my first impulse is to say: stop that.

It's not about gender issues for me. It's just so darned annoying and it's often done at the wrong time. I hate the way boys are always trying to one-up each other and give each other fake punches and stuff like that.

But see, I'm a woman. And I'm supposed to have that civilizing influence on boys.

The problem is that that aggression is natural, part of the masculine identity and can be exercised in a good way.

That's why a boy needs a man in his life. I suspect that among the many reasons men don't become teachers is precisely because masculinity is not very valued in educational circles.

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