There are so many parenting books out there about how to bring up boys so that they become good men. The market is fed by a media that is focussed on ‘toxic masculinity’, male violence and horror stories from the #Me Too movement. In this climate, it is little wonder we are searching for an answer to the question, how do we raise gentle men?
Mr Nathan Jessup is Deputy Head at Wesley College in Perth. He has worked in boys’ education for 12 years. Mr Jessup believes that good men evolve, they are not constructed. The role of schools and parents is to provide the role models, the time and the space required to help our boys become gentlemen.
What is a gentleman?
‘Gentlemen’ is an old-fashioned word, however, when it is broken down to ‘gentle-men’ we are reminded of its value. Mr Jessup believes that it takes a long time to become a gentleman, “You grow into a gentleman as a result of a range of pivotal, authentic, life experiences. A gentleman is a combination of all the good people a man has known and the experiences he has had. It’s about taking the good from life and living it. We know a gentleman when we meet him. His existence reflects his essence.”
There is a risk that in trying too hard to actively teach boys to be gentlemen we are looking at children through an adult lens and expecting adult understandings and behaviours. When we rush development in this way we increase the level of stress our children experience and we overwhelm them. This impacts their natural learning. Natural learning comes from creating the right environment and influences.