In the fall of 2020, the Task Force on Boys in School (TFBS) was approved by the Society for the Psychological Study of Men and Masculinities (SPSMM)—also known as Division 51 of the American Psychological Association (APA). It was established to address three goals:
2: Heighten the awareness of school and community-based interventions that can be implemented to enable boys to achieve greater academic and school success.
3: In addition to focusing on all boys, the Task Force strives to illuminate and address the ways that boys of color and other marginalized statuses are disadvantaged and underserved in school contexts.
Who We Believe Boys To Be
In addition to being aligned with the mission of Division 51, the Task Force on Boys in School is guided by research-based insights that inform a set of beliefs about boys in relation to their healthy learning and development.
To name a few, boys’ humanities are varied and complex, and rigid conceptions of masculinity, that include anti-school sentiments, harm their well-being, and contribute to adverse outcomes in education. All boys have the capacity to reach their full potential, especially within schools; yet, many boys experience unnecessary and preventable distress and hardship.
Therefore, the education and schooling that we provide to boys must focus on ways to dismantle institutional practices that reinforce a hierarchy of boyhoods that ultimately disadvantages all boys, and often leaves boys of color marginalized. In contrast, boys’ education should account for a diversity of boyhoods, ensuring all boys excel and thrive in school. Approaches, including those in relation to girls and other gender identities, are culturally-based and institutional, and undermine boys’ development and academic success.
Our Task in Support of Boys
Our current task is developing a set of peer-reviewed fact sheets that address key issues for boys in school. The fact sheets are intended to empower educators to cultivate learning environments that enable boys to embody their full humanities, question for themselves restrictive norms of masculinity, and experience schools as places that support their creativity, individuality, and growth.
Our final product will be a collection of fact sheets that help to explore the varying and complicated issues contributing to why so many boys are struggling in school. Each fact sheet will consist of approximately 6 to 10 well-documented facts regarding a specific school-based issue, as well as implications and recommendations to support boys individually, and at the institutional level. Consistent with the goals of the task force, attention will be given to boys from diverse backgrounds, including race and ethnicity, socioeconomics, geographic location (e.g., rural and urban), and sexual orientation. Dissemination of the fact sheets will be widespread, targeting school administrators, classroom teachers, parents, policymakers, and even boys’ themselves. A special effort to reach boys distinctly will include a social media campaign developed in consultation with relevant constituencies. (e.g., media specialists, school-age boys, etc.)
Thank you for you interest in our work.
The Task Force