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?