Go mbeannai Dia duit.

About Me

My photo
Quaker by conviction, mother by default, Celticst through love, Christ follower because I once was lost but now am found...

Friday, September 10, 2010

Truth in our hearts. Strength in our hands. Consistency in our tongues. ~ Fianna Motto

Anyone who has sons knows they are different to girls. It won't be the boys sitting quietly stringing beads on a string. Or colouring nicely between the lines. Or listening to a story. Indeed, I have a friend who was forced to teach her son to read while he was upside down in a box. That was how he liked it. As a conscientious homeschooling mama she accommodated him.

For a long time now I have thought we have got it wrong when it comes to educating our sons, but particularly if they are in the school system. Homeschoolers learn quickly how hard it is to keep their sons' attention & make adjustments.

I do not have any answers but I think there are things we can learn from history. When it comes to history the history I know best is Celtic history. Like most early societies, & even now many primitive societies, Celtic culture was a 3 tiered culture. On top you had the aristocracy. In the middle you had the *specials* ~ poets, lawyers, healers, shamans; that sort of thing. At the bottom you had the hoi poli. It was primarily an agricultural society with warrior overtones. It had, as we do now, a mass of young men who had no real place in the society, who needed to grow into responsible young men capable of running their society. The hoi poli were taken care of. Uneducated they invariably followed their father's trade early on. Those who wanted to do something in the *special* category made their need known & their society shifted them into one of the bardic schools that trained young people in these things. By the time they were finished they were no longer young.

That left the aristocracy, the most dangerous element in any society if left shiftless & without discipline. The hardest to control because they make the rules. Young men often tend to naturally band together & form alliances. This is the basis of most team sports but it can be a vicious & destructive characteristic.

Now I would propose the Celts addressed 3 basic needs of young men: The need to be needed; the need to be respected; the need to be seen as a man. So what did they do?

They created the Fianna [not to be confused with the modern Irish Fianna.]. The Fianna were loose bands of young men who were employed to protect the Irish borders from invasion during the war season & to hunt game & provide provisions for the clans in winter. Cheap cannon fodder I can hear you thinking. Not at all. Joining the Fianna was incredibly difficult & this is the beauty of the Celtic system. It was not for the faint of heart. Indeed it required a huge amount of self discipline on the applicant's part & years of training.

Listen to some of the conditions of entry.

No man was accepted unless he could defend himself from a hole in the ground as high as his chest against 9 spearmen with just a shield. If anything got through his defence, if he was wounded, he was not accepted.

His hair would be braided with many braids & he would be required to be hunted at a barefoot run through the forest. If his braids became mussed, if his weapons shook in his hand, if he cracked a twig underfoot, if he was overtaken or wounded, he was not accepted.

He had to be able to leap over a bow as high as his chest, run under a bow at knee height, & remove a thorn from his foot without slowing a running pace.

Our definition of what it means to be a man has changed. As a society we no longer value such manly skills: strength of arms, lightening fast reflexes, courage. Such things have been subverted into organised sports & then we wonder why our men are glued to the t.v set. Men haven't changed. In themselves they are as they have always been. They get their muscles in the gym & their kicks from hooning down the highway but they were designed by God to protect & protection, by it's very nature, is a physical activity.

I suspect our sons would do better if at least half their school day involved intense physical activity. I suspect our sons would do better if their school work was more geared to the hands on *doing*. I suspect our sons would do better if they felt they were more respected & had a designated & useful place in society.

What do you think?


Mrs. C said...

I have a mix of boys. Some of them wouldn't go for the chasing after each other with sticks thing. :)

Jo said...

I have two sons and no daughters - mine are far better doing practical learning than sitting in a classroom. Both were hopeless at homework, not very good at writing but very good with their hands. I have always thought the traditional methods of teaching don't always work for boys - certainly not my two.

Ruby said...

Yep, weapons and challenges. That's what little boys are made of. My neighbours would sometimes laugh at my call to come in for school. "Put down your weapons and come in boys!"
Seriously, you make good points. Will two lads hitting their "youth" I definately promote as much physical activity as possible. But as expectations have changed, so has the need to toe the line in school etc. It is always a pleasure to see young men and boys escorting, defending their womenfolk. Takes the women to allow them to be boys and men, too.

Ruby said...

Are you up and about today?

Ganeida said...

MrsC: So did I ~ until about their teens then it was all brawn & muscle. :(

Jo: 2 out of 3 boys, 1 out of 2 girls. I've had things like my windows broken by a discus ~ from the INSIDE!!!!

Ruby. Love it! Love it! lol Actually I've slept most of today too with a little bit of time on the computer. The girl is cooking tea.

Ruby said...

They used to reckon it sounded like a police raid!

Amanda said...

My son is a hands on boy, never much good at school work at all! (I didn't homeschool him at all)... the problem with the school situation is that they offer a 'one size fits all' and of course, it didn't meet his needs one little bit. My daughter always did well at school, and thrived when I homeschooled her.

I think my Nathan would be ok with that Fianna challenge. Can't imagine him with long braided hair though LOL. But, the physical stuff, yes. He is fiercely protective, and that is one of his best traits.

Ganeida said...

Amanda: lol Try that with lime. The Celts invented spiked hair! ☺

Ruby:Your boys would fit right in here.

Jeanne said...

Glad you're feeling better. I agree that our education sytem favours mild mannered children - females and males. The strong willed have a big battle I think. The celtic history is an interesting thought...

Ganeida said...

Jeanne: ssshhh. The education thing was just an excuse to pontificate on Celtic :D

seekingmyLord said...

Even when you are under the weather and not at your best, your blog is always a delight to read.