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Treat boys’ education differently from girls’, says Cornwall College educator

Published:Monday | August 30, 2021 | 12:05 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer


Robertino Gordon, the dean of discipline at Cornwall College, says that teachers must approach the education of boys differently from that of girls, otherwise boys will seek validation from gangs when they are punished in the classroom for behaving the way society has taught them to act.

Speaking at a Zoom forum hosted by the Ministry of Education last Tuesday, under the theme ‘Men in focus: A positive spotlight on boys in Jamaica,’ Gordon said that what boys accept as normal is based on what they learn from the media and the wider society.

“How we respond to our boys and how we treat them can make or break them. Unfortunately, teachers do not know enough about boys and how they learn, as opposed to girls, and you have classrooms that are generally geared for teaching the way we teach girls,” Gordon told the meeting.


“Society teaches boys that they must be tough and ‘rough it out,’ and when they are in the classroom and become frustrated, and they act tough and show what they have been taught, they get into trouble, and the classroom becomes a place that boys do not like. What they tend to do is look for support in other male-oriented groups, and this is how the gangs get started because gangs offer love, loyalty, and a sense of belonging,” Gordon added.

His warning echoed a similar sentiment from social anthropologist Dr Herbert Gayle, who told a students’ town hall empowerment seminar in May that boys must not be expected to emulate girls in their emotional expression or communication style.

“Do not encourage boys to become girls, nor encourage girls to become boys, because they are not the same. I have seen people pressure boys to behave like girls to the point where the boys become confused, and I have seen people pressure boys to be more masculine to the point where the boys become aggressive,” Gayle said at the time.

In addition, Gordon pointed to a decades-long decrease in parental guidance and supervision as the reason for boys learning their current values from social media.

“The behaviour that boys learn and have normalised, unfortunately, is coming to a great extent from the media, because parents do not spend enough time with children like they used to back in the day from the 1960s and 1970s,” said Gordon. “They have allowed the media to take care of growing their children, and many of our boys learn about sex and what is appropriate or inappropriate from social media.”

In 2016, the International Journal of Criminal Justice Sciences did a study which pointed to peer influence, formed through existing ties such as familiarity within the same community or high school, as a major contributing factor to boys joining gangs. The study relied on a sample of 10 self-identified gang members from west Kingston.