November 30, 2009

I Believe In YOU!

Blog subscriber Grant Williams suggests that the film Freedom Writers would be an inspirational film to share with young males. It’s about 14 and 15 year old kids living in tragically difficult circumstances, and one very dedicated teacher. Grant says,

When I think of the film “Freedom Writers” my mind immediately goes to the class room scene where Hillary Swank (playing the character of the real life teacher Erin Gruwell) placed a piece of tape on the floor and asked her students to cross that line if any answer to her questions were yes.

The power of that process in which young people shared their pain in their lives, realized they were not alone, that they were actually very much alike, something magical happened and a new beginning was born. From that one experiment, those kids began to feel a better self-image, the possibility of really believing in themselves, and they literally created a bond among them that would last for years to come. All this happened because these kids were gently nudged into getting real with each other.

This film tells the story of one teacher who knew that her students had an abundance of gifts, and if someone could help them see that reality, amazing things would follow. In the end, most of her students graduated High School and some went to college.

In this Man-Making work I have come across countless stories about how important it is for a lost boy to have someone really believe in him. At this link you'll find men's responses to the question, Who was an important male mentor for you (other than your father)? Over and over again in their answers, you will hear how just one, authentic, caring person can make a huge difference in a young male's life.

Who was it in your life that really believed in you?

Just below is a YouTube clip of  the real Erin Gruwell talking about what she had to do to get her students to speak their truth to each other and how they became Freedom Writers. If the clip doesn't show up click here.


November 24, 2009

Knock Knock, Are You There?

This incredible video clip of Daniel Beaty was recommended by Man-Making Blog reader Erick Rainey. It's performed by Daniel Beaty, an an actor, singer, writer, and composer. In this powerful, two and a half minute experience, he passionately and poetically states the need for Man-Makers, and puts out a call to action at the same time.

It is so elegant I really can't (shouldn't) add anything . . . just sit down, open your heart, and click the play button. You WILL feel what he's talking about.

Let me know what get's cooked up for you.

Use this link if the video clip doesn't appear.

YouTube video:

November 19, 2009

Being in Service - Vs a "Selfish Clod"

In a post a while back, I shared a quote about being in service to community written by George Bernard Shaw. It's from his piece titled, One True Joy:  

This is the one true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.

When working with young males, whenever possible, I believe it's important to help them connect with their community through service projects. When that happens, the community benefits, and young guys get all those good feelings that come from contributing and making their corner of the world a better place. By volunteering for community service projects with a young male, either individually or in groups, you are demonstrating that helping others is a valuable masculine trait.

If you're at all inclined to take on this kind of activity, there is a wonderful resource that can help. It's a web service called VolunteerMatch. The folks at VM say, VolunteerMatch strengthens communities by making it easier for good people and good causes to connect. If you go to their website and click on the Search tab, you can plug in your zip code and get a great list of nearby organizations who need volunteers. I plugged in my home town of Minneapolis, MN, and in two seconds was presented with 1647 opportunities.

Clearly there is a need for volunteers somewhere near you. I can promise that if you try a day of serving others, you, and the young males who participate with you, will have a very interesting experience, and all be moved along on your journey to manhood.

November 13, 2009

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

David H. sent along a link to an amazing story of a 14 year-old boy and book about his life. David said, How about this for an inspiring boy/man story? Nourish a young person's spirit and their curiosity and look what can happen!

This is the link to the Wired magazine article about 14 year-old William Kamkwamba, a boy from a small village WAY off the electrical grid in Malawi. William saw a photo of a windmill in a textbook and with that picture and an amazing amount of creativity and drive, has built a series of windmills that according to Wired, now generate enough electricity to light several bulbs in his family’s house, power radios and a TV, charge his neighbors’ cellphones and pump water for the village’s fields and household use.

This is a very inspirational tale of a boy's innate creativity and love of tinkering, building, and exploration. It's a real day-brightener.

Through articles published about his creation, William was "discovered," and the result is a book about his story and a number of very inspirational video clips like the one below. I can imagine showing these clips to a group of boys and then challenging them to do what William did . . . make a backyard windmill!

Check out this link if the video clip doesn't appear.

YouTube clip:

November 8, 2009

Saving A Lost Boy

It is a too common story that some boys just can fit themselves into today's educational model. The standard response from "the system," is to make boys the problem and in too many cases, to medicate boys so they can "sit still and pay attention" (The DEA estimates %10- to %12 of all US boys have a Ritalin prescription). Hey it's easier than reinventing the system . . . unless you're a boy.

One of my heroes waving the flag about the need for flexible, adaptive, and boy relevant schools, teachers, and teaching models is Barry MacDonald. The statement of purpose at the top of his Boy Smarts website reads, "Mentoring Boys - To Become Caring, Courageous, and Ethical Men." His book Boys Smarts and the companion Boy Smarts Action Study Guide, together present a conservative, practical, path for creating an educational environment that supports boys and girls alike. On his website you can find samples of the content in these books. If you're a parent of a young male or an educator concerned about boys' and their success in school, this is a must read set.

In the Boy Smarts October newsletter is a story of an almost lost young skateboarder named Josh. The article describes how a boy-literate school and teachers can make a life-saving difference in the life of a boy. Read this story and if it inspires you as it does me, contact Barry MacDonald at to learn what you can do for boys at a school near you. He's a talented speaker and his program in your community is guaranteed to change and even save some lives.

November 3, 2009

Tough Guise

The program Tough Guise - Violence, Media, and the Crisis in Masculinity, was recently brought to my attention. It's a program from the Media Education Foundation that discusses how young males learn to be violent from the media and other influences around them. The result is young males putting on their Tough Guise disguise and getting into a lot of trouble.

The campaign was done in 1999, and while just a little dated, it's a great primer on this topic. Just below is a short film clip used to introduce the program. It's guaranteed to make you a little uncomfortable. You can view the full length version at the Media Education Foundation website as well as find a very helpful study guide, and complete transcript of the film. You can also order the DVD from Amazon.

If you want to take on the topic of male violence for and with a group of young males, this collection will almost get you there. I'm certain that the young males you might involve in the discussions would be quick to name the current music and media sources promoting ideas of violence and manhood.

If you have used this program, or if you are aware of other resources on the theme of violence and manhood, please let us know. I'll put your comments on this blog post and add any recommend tools to the resources listed on the Man-Making website.

If the clip doesn't show, click here.