Workshop Tackles Stereotyping of Boys

BAR HARBOR — There are times in schools when the focus of concern is on girls; in other periods, it’s boys. In one way or another, people tend to predetermine what can be expected from our children, and that limits their growth.

At 4 p.m., on Tuesday, Jan. 12, College of the Atlantic will be presenting a workshop by educator Mark Tappan on “Packaging Boyhood: Helping Boys Resist Media Stereotypes.” The workshop will be in the college’s McCormick Lecture Hall.


There has been a great deal of brouhaha around stereotyping of women and girls in the media, says Bonnie Tai, COA faculty member in education. “More recently, educators, parents and concerned community members have begun to turn the focus back to boys. Whenever the media and pop culture narrow the definition of what is acceptable we endanger the capacity, not to mention the academic engagement, of boys to grow up smart, involved, humble and compassionate.”

Says Mr. Tappan: “Jock. Slacker. Gangster. Superhero. Goofball. Player. This workshop explores the narrow version of boyhood that is sold to boys – and what teachers, parents and others who work with boys can do about it. Today’s media and marketers besiege boys with a steady diet of negative imagery that encourages slacking over studying; competition over teamwork; power over empowerment; and being cool over being yourself. From cartoons to videogames to movies, from toys to Halloween costumes to energy drinks, boys are fed a steady diet of stereotypes about what it means to be a man, including messages about violence, risk-taking and perfecting an image of just not caring.”

Mr. Tappan’s multimedia presentation offers an overview of the cultural landscape boys confront daily, both in school and in society. It also provides tools and information to help boys resist these negative stereotypes.

He is professor of education and human development and chairman of the education program at Colby College in Waterville. He has a bachelor’s degree in religion from Oberlin College, a Master of Arts in education from Ohio State University, and doctoral degree in human development from Harvard University. He received the 2004 Donald Harwood Faculty Award for Service Learning Excellence, presented by Maine Campus Compact; he is also the co-chairman of the Greater Waterville Communities for Children and Youth Coalition and a founding member of the Maine Boys’ Network.

The talk at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 12 in McCormick Lecture Hall is free. The public is welcome. For more information, call the college at 288-5015, or Tai at 801-5703.



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