Willie Spears

Willie Spears

Win At Home is a series of opinion articles written by author and keynote speaker Willie Spears. Be sure to catch the Win At Home Podcast in January 2022 and order the Win at Home devotional for leaders now at www.williespears.com.

Most children spend more time at school than they do at home. Therefore, winning at home for young students could be winning at school. I believe the best way to help our country and to help society is to help our children. This is the best way to win at home. In 2002 I realized boys were failing in school at an alarming rate. I thought I could change this epidemic by becoming a head football coach and athletic director.

The challenge is fatherless homes, and I believed the answer was coaching. Coaches have had a tremendous impact on my life, and I wanted to be that father figure and a good example for so many fatherless athletes. I believe coaches have more influence than pastors, politicians, or parents. Chapter six of my book Culture Creators is titled “What Teachers Can Learn from Coaches.”

This chapter is about the power of building relationships. Research shows boys are falling behind girls in the classroom. One example is a growing gender gap in high school graduation rates. The Brooking Institution reports, in 2018, about 88% of girls graduated on time, compared with 82% of boys.

The gap is larger in terms of college enrollment, with women ahead of men in higher education at record levels.

Last year, six out of ten women were enrolled as college students, while men accounted for only four out of ten, according to the National Student Clearinghouse statistics. College enrollment in the United States has declined by 1.5 million students over the past five years, with men accounting for over 70% of that decline.

I believe it is easier to teach someone with who you identify on several levels. Race and gender are a huge part of my thought process. I have worked in more than ten different schools, and in each school, there were far fewer male teachers than females. A direct correlation is the poor test scores, graduation rates, and high discrepancy in discipline referrals.

We live in a society that does not honor or understand men. If a man and a woman are in a relationship and the woman gets pregnant, the man has no rights to the child. The woman can abort the fetus, give the child up for adoption, deny the man rights to the child, and put the man on child support. A man would not be taken seriously in a work environment if he accused a woman of sexual harassment, whereas the reverse is not true.

Like society, schools do not know how to relate to, understand, or deal with male students’ issues. A report from the American Sociological Association tells us the way teachers respond to boys’ behaviors shapes the future of their educational outcomes. The study found that elementary school boys had much greater exposure to negative school environments compared with girls. And in high school, boys reported significantly higher rates of grade repetition and lower educational expectations.

Some teachers have an unconscious bias regarding boys, which often translates into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Boys hear things like, you’re smart for a boy or girls are more mature than boys, or boys are strong, and girls are smart. Society has created a culture where being dumb is a sign of toughness for boys while intelligence is a sign of being inferior, soft, or non-masculine.

Imagine a young man growing up in a house full of edification from a loving father. Imagine growing up in a home that values school, intelligence, good grades, and good behavior. Single mothers can raise successful men, but statistics show boys who men do not raise rarely meet educational standards. This problem affects us all.

President Ronald Regan and President Barak Obama both grew up with poor examples for fathers and managed to have successful lives. One could argue every president has been a male who obviously had great teachers. We all have a role to play in educating the future men of our society.

Three ways to Win At Home:

1. Fight for couples to stay together.

2. Mentor boys.

3. Speak words of edification to young men when you see them.

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