December 31, 2006

Peter Pan - The Lesson

Warning, I'm on my high-horse here.

Last night I watched part of an old film in which Mary Martin, playing Peter Pan, said, Are you ready for today's lesson? And then she launched into a long song about a boy refusing to become a man.

With apologies to the original lyrics, what follows are some excerpts run together to make a point:

I'll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up, not me! I don't want to wear a tie. And a serious expression... And if it means I must prepare, to shoulder burdens with a worried air, I'll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up, not me. So there!

Never gonna be a man, I won't! Like to see somebody try, and make me. Anyone who wants to try, and make me turn into a man, catch me if you can. I won't grow up... And Never Land will always be, the home of beauty and joy, and neverty. I'll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up, not me!
As I point out in the Man-Making book, I'm of the opinion that until a man steps into the ancient role of mentor for a boy or boys, there is a hole in his mature masculinity. Something critical in him goes undeveloped. A man can pretend his life needs to be all about him, wearing a tie or serious expression, but until he accepts his responsibility to guide the next generation of boys into manhood, he's not fully "grown up." He's living in the land of "neverty."

The premise of the book, The Peter Pan Syndrome, by Dan Kiley is the same. Too many men are inhabiting a place where, consciously or not, they are refusing the obligations of manhood.

Showing up for boys is one of the ways men can begin to self-initiate themselves into a full and responsible manhood. Until they do, the men will remain stuck in "neverty," that place between boyhood and manhood. Both they and the boys who need them will remain lost on their mutual journey to manhood.

December 26, 2006

WrightFlight - Giving Kids Wings

In the Man-Making book, one of the forms of involvement I discuss is called One-to-Many, one adult to many kids. It's where a man takes his hobby or interest and shares it with the world in a way that involves kids. There are many examples of how this simple act can evolve into something that can change kids lives in a multitude of ways. Sports, learning to drive safely in high performance cars, even building wooden boats from scratch are all examples I talk about in the Man-Making book.

WrightFlight is another of those stories. It was founded in 1986 in Tucson, Arizona by Robin Stoddard, an Air Force Reserve fighter pilot. He was aware of the excitement flight held for most kids and decided to use that as motivation to improve kid's lives. The way it works is each student to signs a contract at the beginning of the program. This contract requires the students to raise a grade point in one of their weaker subjects (i.e. raising a math grade from C to B), in addition to staying in school, off drugs, and out of gangs. If the student passes the Wright Flight "History of Flight" test, the student earns a graduation thrill of a hands-on flight in a small aircraft as a co-pilot.

With over 750 successful students graduating in the Tucson area during this school year, approximately 10,500 graduates since its inception, and new chapters springing up across the country, WrightFlight is powerful testimony to what one motivated man (and a lot of help from friends and ally's) can create. Check out their website for the whole story.

What hobby, skill, or powerful interest do you have that you might share with the young people in the community around you? That's just how it all gets started.

December 14, 2006

Adolescent Boys: Statistics and Trends

The mission of the Mid-Atlantic Equity Consortium (MAEC), a not-for-profit corporation,is to create learning environments free of race, gender, class, ethnic and cultural biases so that students of all backgrounds will have equal opportunities to flourish.

At this link on their website they have a very interesting collection of data titled Adolescent Boys: Statistics and Trends. Some of the items include statements such as:
  • The range of affiliations available to boys are very limited; they are generally competitive models defined by winning or losing (ie. organized sports and athletics).

  • Some research suggests that it is not inherently true that "normal adolescent boys" are naturally aggressive, withdrawn and emotionally unexpressive. More importantly, there needs to be an increasing awareness that many parents and schools support these types of behaviors in the belief that they are necessary for male success, and in fear of hindering the development of "normal" masculinity.

  • Boys are more likely than girls to have discipline/behavior problems; to be diagnosed with Attention-Deficit Disorder; to be placed in special education; and to be involved in violent crimes. For example, boys constitute 71% of school suspensions.
Check out their site to see if there are any surprises for you.

November 25, 2006

Boy Smarts

Barry MacDonald has produced a great book titled Boy Smarts - Mentoring Boys for Success at School.

I haven't read it yet, but the table of contents (on this page) appears to make it an extremely practical guide for dealing with young males. While it all looks great, I especially liked the looks of the chapter titled, Organizing A Classroom For Boys To Be Successful.

Take a look and tell me what you think. Just reading his table of contents should increase your boy literacy.

November 16, 2006

America's Promise

In the National Promises Study from America’s Promise – The Alliance for Youth (think Colin Powel), they found some alarming facts. Just for starters,
Nearly two-thirds of African-American children, and almost one in four white children, live in households with only one parent.

Two million American children have a parent in jail.

More than 15 million at-risk young people need a mentor.

Approximately eight million children ages 5 to 14 regularly spend time without adult supervision.

That’s why the first of their Five Promises speaks to mentoring relationships.
Every child and youth needs and deserves support and guidance from caring adults in their families, schools, and communities, including ongoing, secure relationships with parents and other family adults, as well as multiple and consistent formal and informal positive relationships with teachers, mentors, coaches, youth volunteers, and neighbors.
Check out their research and the other four promises at

October 31, 2006

Schools Just for Boys

The Field School of Charlottesville, Virginia, is one of many schools for boys using the recent research on boy development as the rationale for a single-gender learning environment. They remind us that in the middle of the 20th century, all boy schools were common... until the 1970's and the passing of the Title 9 of the Civil Rights Act.

The Field School says that just some of the benefits of an all boy environment include...a faculty experienced in teaching, coaching and counseling boys, one which understands boys’ issues, school program tailored to the style and tempos of boys’ learning, and by a more unified educational purpose. A boys’ school also provides an open, positive school environment, where boys are encouraged to be well rounded in all school activities from arts to athletics to service.

It really does sound inviting. On their website the Field School even provides links to websites and articles in support of their single-gender approach.

October 24, 2006

If you want to see a powerful film clip describing how male lives can be changed by a boy's Rites of Passage weekend, check out this one from fmarxfilm. When you get to the fmarxfilm website, click on the Project Demo link in the menu on the left.

If your heart is at all open to this work, this exploration of boy's and men's experiences on an initiation weekend, by film-maker Frederick Marx, has a good chance of bringing tears to your eyes.

I only hope Frederick gets the money he needs to complete this film. He's a gifted film maker and New American Heroes is just one of the many Man-Making stories that needs to be told. Questions about the film can be sent to Frederick at

October 17, 2006

The Man-Making book is in print!

FINALLY, four years later, Man-Making: Men Helping Boys on Their Journey to Manhood is in print.

You can read all about the book, and even order a copy, at it's new website.

The blog has been quiet during the last couple of months during the book's production, but it will spring back to life now that the publication hump has passed. Thanks to everyone for your patience, and for your interest in the topic.

Now let's all get about the business of making the world a better place for boys and men.

September 5, 2006

Teenage Boys in Love

Who is surprised to learn that teenage boys fall in love, fall hard, and feel one down to the girls in relationships? Dr. Peggy Giordano, one of the three authors of the Toledo Adolescent Relationships Study, says that "about 80 percent of teenagers have had a romantic relationship by age 18," so we should be interested in what is really going on in those relationships.

The study, reported in the April issue of American Sociological Review, discovered that, "Girls may be better prepared for those relationships because of more experience with intimate communication with friends. However, boys as well as girls reported feelings of heightened emotions toward their current or most recent romantic partner—contrary to the notion that boys are only looking to “score” and are not emotionally invested in the relationship."

Unlike the confident and sexually oriented males that are the media stereotype, most teen boys are not sexual predators and they get quite emotionally involved. The study also pointed out that the boys report, "significantly lower levels of confidence, as well as greater 'communication awkwardness,' in their romantic relationships."

While difficult, coaching shy boys in the intricacies of relationships, and helping them to develop their emotional vocabulary, would help set them up with a critical life skill. There are mysteries enough in the challenges of relationships, but having the best possible tools would even the odds a bit.

August 29, 2006

Teacher's Gender Affects Learning

There is a widely reported study out this week by Thomas Dee, an associate professor of economics at Swarthmore College and visiting scholar at Stanford University. He is fighting to get his work published in Education Next, a quarterly journal published by the Hoover Institution.

The main point Dee claims to have researched is that gender matters when it comes to learning. Specifically, he says having a teacher of the opposite sex hurts a student's academic progress. Simply stated, boys learn more from men and girls learn more from women. In the article, Dee warns against drawing fast conclusions based on his work, and he is not endorsing single-sex education. Instead, he hopes his work will spur more research into the effect of a teachers gender on learners, and what to do about it.

If Mr. Dee is right, this is another way boys are being handicapped by the current educational system. At this time in our history, the number of male teachers is at its lowest level in 40 years. Roughly 80 percent of teachers in U.S. public schools are women.

Check out the article and see what you think.

July 31, 2006

"boy school shooter " Google

Just out of pure curiosity, I Googled the words "boy, school, shooter." Somehow twenty-seven million hits are just too many. I know that doesn't equate with the number of actual boy shooters. However, it really is a very big number.

To me it says that too many boys need men's help.

What does it say to you?

"Our doubts are traitors, and makes us lose the good

we oft might win, by fearing to attempt."

—William Shakespeare

July 23, 2006

Men - Cities - Juvenile Crime - Success

I know the Mayor of Minneapolis gets it when he says, "We can’t arrest the problem of crime away... we need to also get at the root causes of crime to win back our kids."

In a recent press release, Mayor R. T. Rybak speaks to the success of the City’s Juvenile Crime Unit saying, "arrests of juvenile offenders have increased 115% and charges of juvenile offenders have increased 50% when compared to last year." That's the tragic but necessary part, and the answer to the immediate problem of juvenile crime.

How I know he gets the message at the heart of my soon to be out Man-Making book (subscribers will be notified), is described in what else the city is doing for kids. Read this taken from the article:

In addition to tough enforcement, Mayor Rybak insisted that the long-term solution to youth crime is to attack the core issues that put kids at risk. Towards that end, the City has increased the number of youth summer jobs, expanded youth recreation, and increased funding for aggressive outreach to the most disconnected, at-risk youth to out-recruit the gangs.

“We can’t arrest the problem of crime away,” Rybak said. “There’s a time for tough enforcement – and we’re doing that – but we need to also get at the root causes of crime to win back our kids. We must prevent crime by creating an environment of hope for our youth. This takes all of us stepping forward to connect youth with trusted adults and give them a sense that they belong.”

The Mayor's call to the citizens is very much the same as my call to men. We don't have to live in denial, fear, and hopelessness about this problem. People, but especially men, if they hear this call, can do something to make a difference in young male lives.

Click here to read the complete article... and then go do something!

July 10, 2006

New York Times - Piles On

The New York Times, starting today, will be running a series titled THE NEW GENDER DIVIDE, which, "...will examine what has happened to men and women several decades after the women's movement began." It's a huge topic, but today's issue is yet another media outlet talking about what's going on, or not going on for boys.

Looking at college registration and graduation data, the author of this article feels it's clear that it's not so much that men are "... in a downward spiral," but that women are doing better. "Still, men now make up only 42 percent of the nation's college students. And with sex discrimination fading and their job opportunities widening, women are coming on much stronger, often leapfrogging the men to the academic finish."

As I've said before, stand by for a flood of research that's sure to follow, as the issues behind these statistics are mined. Jacqueline King, a researcher for the American Council on Education's Center for Policy Analysis, is quoted in the article as saying, "Over all, the differences between blacks and whites, rich and poor, dwarf the differences between men and women within any particular group." That may be so, but the differences are still troubling.

Personally, I love that the discussion is taking place at all. Whatever direction this particular issue takes, it's just one more symptom of what is not working in boy's lives. As I suspect we'll soon be hearing, there lots of other reasons for adult men to show up more consistently in the lives of the boys around them.

July 2, 2006

Progress & hot boy articles

Thanks for your patience as I work on the Man-Making manuscript. I am two-thirds through the first professional edit, have some exciting drafts of the cover, and still think a book will be out by the end of summer. In the mean time, I couldn't ignore a couple of articles in the recent media about this topic.

Esquire Magazine, in it's July issue, has a good article by Tom Chiarella titled, The Problem with Boys. It is another chance to visit the sobering statistics pointing to the need to do something for boys. The author suggests we use the women and girls movement as a model, and clearly calls men to action. He says, "Women forced the issue with girls. Men have to do the same with boys", and, "Men have to be willing to care about the way boys are being treated, taught, and cared for in this country and advocate for them."

He clearly lays the problem at men's feet when he says, "
Go talk to boys. You don't have to use baby talk with them or buy them things. You just have to listen to them. Ask them who they are. The answers they give may not always make sense, but talk to enough of them and you will surely realize that boys themselves are not the problem. And it sure as hell isn't women or girls. The problem is men."

In another article in the Washington Post newspaper, the writer actually wonders if boys are in trouble at all. The article titled,
Study Casts Doubt On the 'Boy Crisis by Jay Mathews, points to the improvements (mostly white) boys are having in subjects like reading and math in recent years. He claims that, "The real story is not bad news about boys doing worse," the report says, "…it’s good news about girls doing better." He does go on to say Black and Hispanic boys are having serious academic problems, and he does allow that it could get better for all boys.

What he is describing is some of the early theories and early research that mark the beginning of our cultural wake up call about how much boys need help and how we might help them. Doing so will lift boys out of invisibility, and help them achieve their full human potential. Doing that, will help boys, men, girls, women and our communities.

April 29, 2006

A BIG step to Success

The lull in posting activity on this blog is do to the fact that yours truly has really been grunting out the work on the manuscript. The BIG news is that it was sent to the editor yesterday. It has been through the wringer of creation, modification, sell, hopelessness, rejuvenation, reworking, hope, reworking, and reworking. It has been a 2+ year journey, and now it is in the birth canal... and I'm feeling the contractions! It's that place in the creative process where I'm getting close to needing to birth the book. I've checked and it's a boy!

There is a ways to go yet. It will require at least one more edit, and then a proof read prior to print. There is the cover art and copy to design and write, having the manuscript laid out to fit in a book format, and the physical printing to be accomplished. But I feel joy today in that I've gotten over the hump and taken a very big step. A real book, with some serious potential to make the world a better place, is in sight.

Stand by... Earl

April 23, 2006

Nationally, there are many, many thousands of kids on waiting lists for a mentor. Kids that get how wonderful it would be to have a caring adult male in their lives and who are just waiting because the men haven't shown up. What I just love about One-On-One Partners, Mentoring Youth is their willingness to work with kids who are on their waiting list for a mentor. They call their "Esperanza Club" their hope club. These kids are invited to all monthly events and participate in a bi-weekly program where they interact with adult mentors in a group setting.

One-On-One Partners also gets that even the kids with two parents want and need other adults in their lives. Unlike many mentoring agencies, they will make those matches when possible too.

Check out their website for some amazing success stories and to find the motivation to be involved in a kid's life.

April 5, 2006

Help Me Write The Book!

I really need your help!

I am very happy to report that I am really cooking along with the Man-Making book. The cover is being created, I have all the pre-publication details in process, and I'm working with a great editor on the manuscript.

I am using quotes from males of all ages to bring life to the copy. However, my editor said that I don't have near enough quotes from teenagers up to twenty something males. That's where I can really use your help. Think of helping me in this challenge as your contribution to both the book and making the world a better place for men and boys. It may take some effort to make this happen. However, I know that you too will get something important out of any conversation you're willing to have with a boy or young male on this topic.

Click here to download a page of questions that could lead to great discussion and some good quotes. A response to any one question would be very helpful. I only need a young man’s first name and age with the quote so it’s completely anonymous.

Thanks for anything you're willing to do to help me with this last minute challenge.


March 25, 2006

All I ever really wanted...


Man-Making Update

This is just a quick note to let you all know that a number of milestones on the way to the creation of a book have been reached. The first draft of the Man-Making manuscript has been delivered to an editor, the ISBN and Library of Congress numbers have been obtained, and a first draft of the cover has been designed. It's exciting to finally see this book emerging out of a dream in this way.

Earl Hipp

March 14, 2006

Emotional Long-Term Insurance

I am wailing away on the manuscript for my book, Man-Making, and was going over the contributions I've gotten from men in response to research questions about manhood. I came across one idea that I just have to share in this forum. It's from a Scottish man named George Mcaluly and it's about emotional long term insurance for his sons. Feel free to post a comment below if you are as moved by his idea as I am.

Sometime after the birth of my first son, my wife and I had an experience that underlined the fragile and temporary nature of life, and I suggested that we both write a letter to our son and to the son-to-be she was expecting. If either or both of us died, then our boys would never know how much they meant to us. But if we each left a letter telling them just that, then it would be a better legacy than any amount of money. Many parents insure for their children’s financial well-being in the event of their death - how many have an insurance policy for their emotional well-being?

I started to write what I thought would be a short note. It is now six pages long and grows a little every six months or so. When it was finished, it struck me that it should be like a life insurance policy, to be handed over to the beneficiary at the end of the full term, or given at a suitable age by a trustee if you die. As I wrote, I found I could say things that they would not understand until they were much older - by which time I would probably be too much of a curmudgeon to say them, and they would be too embarrassed to hear them.

Bearing in mind our typical Scottish male aversion to verbally expressing any strong emotion for anything other than 11 men kicking a pig’s bladder about a field, (and of course anger), I think it would be a good idea for all Scots fathers to write a letter to each of their children.

I can't tell you how much I'd like a letter like that from my father or any of the elder males in my life. There is still time for you to write one to a son or boy in your life.

Thanks George.

March 6, 2006

The Minds of Boys

This is another book about boys by the prolific author Michael Gurian, written with his partner Kathy Stevens. It's a book that is helping to raise the veil about “male learning style" and how it’s NOT a match with current educational practices.

Some of the many costs that result from this inequity include lower grades, greater discipline problems, and higher dropout rates (to name a few). Remember, we are still functioning in an era where our boys are being seen as THE problem instead of the mismatch in educational processes. The authors explore current research on the differences between the male and the female brain that is at the core of the issue. It’s a book with great advice for parents and teachers on how to encourage learning for boys without disadvantaging girls in any way.

If you're a parent this book will give you some great discussion points for the next time you meet with your son's teachers and school principal.

To order The Mind of Boys from, click here.

February 12, 2006

TRACKS and Rights of Passage

The Man-Making book I'm working on is a call to adult men to make a difference in boy's lives. It asks men to listen to their hearts, and then find an action they can take in service to the young males around them. The TRACKS program out of New Zealand is another great example of what a few motivated me can create when they hear this call.

In early 2002 a small group of men, Bryan Hansen, Eric Spiekerman, and Jim Horton, sat down to brainstorm what they wanted to include in a Rites of Passage Program for boys. Out of that fire of passion and commitment to the next generation of males, came the powerful and life changing TRACKS program they have today.

To learn about their events, their "Child Protection and Duty of Care Policy," and see some photos that will warm your heart, visit the
TRACKS website. You can also contact them at

Out of the TRACKS program, a similar Rites of Passage program for girls has evolved. It's called Tides. While obviously very from the boy's program, it's also moving girls along on a positive journey to womanhood. Check out TIDES here.

To learn more about the difference you might make in a boy's life, visit the Man-Making website.

February 6, 2006

Aboriginal Initiation

Every so often someone points me to site on the topic of aboriginal initiation. I love it when that happens. The more I'm involved in this work, the more powerful these ceremonies and rituals appear to me. I'm in awe how so called primative cultures got it so right and manage to deliver the perfect boy messages at just the right time in their lives. It inspires me to put out the call to men, to awaken them to the work that only they are uniquely prepared to do. There's little question the boys are waiting and hungry. I continue to believe that until me step into this work, a core piece of their mature masculine potential lies dormant. All male destinies are linked in these rituals.

This site contains photos of "Mandiwala" and "Djapi" rituals from Aboriginal initiation ceremonies from the Northern coast region of Australia.

January 28, 2006

The Boy Era - It has finally begun!

It has really begun. In the last few weeks, the mainstream media has finally gotten on the boy bandwagon in a big way.

In the Jan. 30, 2006 issue of news week, there is a solid article on The Trouble With Boys. It focuses on boys difficulties in school as a result of how they are biologically, developmentally, and psychologically different from girls. It describes fascinating and current research on gender brain differences and points to a need for different learning/teaching styles that result.

As I mentioned in a previous post, on January 12, 2006, Public Television aired Raising Cain. Hosted by child psychologist Michael Thompson, Ph.D., co-author of the best-selling book Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Lives of Boys, this documentary explores the emotional development of boys in America today. It is another boy literate exploration of how boys are in trouble in America today. They probe the really hard questions like, who is responsible for this situation? How do we learn to listen to and support our boys? How can we guide them on the path to becoming responsible, caring men? You can view the video on line on the PBS website, or order the tape or DVD from PBS.

I don’t remember where I hear it, but it was said that the last 10 years have been about women and girls, and the next ten will be about men and boys. That era has begun.

January 24, 2006

Raising Non-Violent Kids

Dr. Michael Obsatz and David Decker, M.A., are two professionals working hard to do something about stopping violence. Between them they offer books, videos, and workshops on that concept. I especially like Dr. Obsatz's book Raising Nonviolent Children in a Violent World -- 21 skills to teach children for the 21st century.

You can even take an anger literacy test on their Anger Resources Website. If you want to raise boys to men who will posses a right relationship to anger and violence, these guys and their many resources will help you get started.

January 13, 2006

Puberty Boy

Our good friend and ally in Australia is Geoff Price. He has been running Pathways to Manhood wilderness camps for 10 years. The Pathways program helps boys make the challenging transition from boyhood to early manhood. Geoff is the perfect guy to have written Puberty Boy, a new book that will be available in the US in October of 2006.

So many men I know are looking for a map of manhood. One of many helpful parts of Geoff's book is a map of boyhood called the Growth Chart. This is a tool that predicts a boy's physical evolution as he moves through adolescence. The chart is helpful for boys in that it predicts what lies ahead. It's also a somewhat uncomfortable reminder for men about what that time in their lives.

On the Man-Making website, one of my research questions asks men to remember that place in-between boyhood and manhood. The question asks men, "Do you remember shyness, confusion and the discomforts of no longer being a boy, but not yet being a man?" The question asks men to, ". . . share a few lines about a memory of the terrors and disorientation of adolescence? It might be about something like the rapid growth in your body, your voice changing, your general restlessness, feeling clumsy, stealing for the excitement of it, emerging sexuality, embarrassing moments (first hard-on), pimples, being with girls, or testing your parent's limits."

If you want to be taken back to that time in your life, you can read the sometimes painful and often humorous replies I got from my male contributors.

I know many of us would have loved a book like Puberty Boy when we became suddenly aware that the call to manhood was stirring in our bodies.

Raising Cain | Public TV

On January 12, 2005, Psychologist Michael Thompson, Ph.D., co-author of the best-selling book Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Lives of Boys, hosted Raising Cain on public television. It was a powerful, literate, and two-hour long heart breaking series of truths describing the many barriers boys face enroute to any kind of successful manhood.

The program shared exciting new research about boys' inner lives, "dispelling a number of commonly held misconceptions." It also offered some hope by highlighting a few innovative programs with the potential to save boy's physical and emotional lives.

One of the most powerful wounds was described as the absence of positive, adult male parents and role models in boy's lives. The program asks, who will guide our boys toward manhood? Only adult men can do that. YOU can do that. This is the call to action that is at the heart of the Man-Making book I'm writing. When a man finds a way to reach out to a boy, two males are moved along on their journey to a positive and successful manhood.

Check out the PBS site for information on the documentary. They also have discussion guides, boy parenting resources, and you can order the DVD of the program there.

This is one DVD that could change your life

To order Raising Cain from click here

January 2, 2006

Boys to Men Mentoring Network

I just love what the guys at the Boys To Men Mentoring Network have to say about becoming a mentor. The joys of mentoring teach you many things: How to listen, without giving your own fantastic advice. How to be a better parent to your own children. What it's like to be in the middle of adolescence and how to make a difference in a young man's life.

This is another ogranization that really knows how to move boys and men along on their journey to manhood. Prior to their initiation weekends, the men are put through a training weekend. During that weekend they are taught many of the skills required to be a staff man, including learning how to listen, accept, and admire the boys. That same training re-sensitize men to the issues, concerns, frustrations, fears, restless energy, and angst that reside in an adolescent male. No wonder their man-making weekends are so powerful for all the males that are involved.

The Boys To Men Mentoring Network
, is a structured yet informal program that is growing rapidly just by word of mouth. If you want to have a life changing experience on your journey to manhood, check them out. There may be a Boys to Men program in your part of the world.