As far as school goes we speak a lot in the book that the compulsory model
we use for schooling in the United States is generally well-suited to a girl’s
learning style. It’s heavy on verbal and written expression, two particular
areas of strength for most girls. It involves a good deal of sitting still for
extended periods of time with mostly auditory instruction. These methods don’t
match a boy’s way of learning or draw on his learning strengths.
That was all I had to read, on Blissfully Domestic’s homeschool channel, to be immediately intrigued by the book Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys. When I found that it was a book, written by authors, therapists and dads Stephen James and David Thomas, for the parents, mentors and teachers of boys, I knew that I had to get my hands on a copy. As the home educating mother to my son, I am, at one time or another, all of those things to him. So, I was thrilled beyond words to be given the opportunity to review the book for Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. Except, well, you know, I usually find the words.
I loved it! I think I’ve confessed before to often having difficulty finishing non-fiction books, being, as I am, a huge fan of historical fiction. That was not at all the case with Wild Things. In fact, this was the first book of its genre that had me saying, “Just one more chapter, then, I’ll go to sleep.”
From the first page, I was impressed with the conversational style of the authors. It was like sitting down over a glass of sweet tea (what else?) and discussing my son with a family friend. This book literally made me laugh out loud and, moments later, cry as I saw my son through new eyes. One thing I loved best about Wild Things were the concrete examples the authors gave to illustrate their key points. That’s very important to me. I don’t like vague references to an idea; I need examples. There are stories –either from the authors’ lives, from their counseling practices, or from books or movies — that clearly illustrate the points being made.
In the introduction, the authors write, “Plato, the ancient Greek philosopher, writes, ‘Of all animals, the boy is the most unmanageable, inasmuch as he has the fountain of reason in him not yet regulated.”
You can say that again! Yet Wild Things is not about taming boys, it is about celebrating their passionate spirit, their imagination, and their hunger for adventure. It’s about coming alongside our boys and guiding them along their journey to manhood. With the sense of humor that is evident throughout the book, we are cautioned that “whenever boys are in the equation, you may have to broaden your definition of normal. (This is especially true for women.)” Parents are also reminded, however, that while “boys will be boys,” parents should be parents.
In Wild Things, you’ll look at The Way of a Boy, which will give the parent insight into the developmental make-up of a boy (including the one whom the female readers might find themselves married!). The Mind of a Boy looks at areas of great interest to the educator: brain development and learning styles. Finally, The Heart of a Boy looks at the emotional, spiritual and moral development of a boy.
Even for those of us who are home educators, it is often a fact that we have been brought up with the traditional educational system as our model. Authors Stephen James and David Thomas offer some of the reasons how and why today’s educational system is often failing our boys and discover some tips to overcome that, saying:
The model of education that has been in place for the past one hundred years
or so is known as compulsory schooling. If you do some research into the history
of education, you will find that the compulsory model was birthed out of the
Industrial Revolution. The academic calendar, and the very structure of school
(length of day, amount of time spent in class, etc.) were designed as a means of
fashioning great factory workers, not students. They were not designed with the
cognitive and emotional development of kids in mind. And they certainly weren’t
designed to correlate with the developing brains of boys.
Wild Things offers practical, timely, relevant tips on raising boys. Each chapter ends with a “Putting the Principals into Practice” section, which offers concrete tips on how the reader can apply the principals learned in the previous chapter. The book ends with a “Hot Topics” section that tackles the tough questions that parents often hate to ask. And, while the book’s main focus is parenting boys, you’ll find that it’s full of good, solid parenting advice that will apply to each of your children, regardless of their gender.
Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.