scouts-l Mail Archive for June of 2000: Mentoring Young Men
Jim Peterson (kupete@KUHUB.CC.UKANS.EDU
Mon Jun 12 2000 - 12:39:59 CDT
I've been reading with some interest all the talk about men vs women
mentoring young men. Here's something I'll just toss out as food for
thought. I gleaned it from reading the now kinda spoofed book by Robert
Bly titled "Iron John". Bly was one of the fathers of the short-lived
"men's movement". He had some really interesting things to say and for our
consideration. Here's one thought:
Ever since the Industrial Revolution, boys have started having real
problems and families started having real problems with boys. Why? Well,
up until that time, most of the men worked right at home or very close to
home...in the family business or trade, on the farm, etc. Young men worked
right alongside their fathers and grandfathers and a natural mentoring
process took place. The sons saw their fathers and grandfathers in the
work setting dealing with work issues problems and rewards, but also saw
them deal with the everyday practice of values, handling familial issues,
community involvement, neighborliness. THey learned "what it is to be a
man" from observing their fathers, grandfathers, older brothers and male
friends of the family.
When the factories came, when the fathers and brothers went off to town, to
the factories, away from the home to work, they left the young men
behind....usually in the care of the mother. The father came home, tired,
exhausted and with little time to deal with the imparting of "what it is to
be a man" to his son. As a matter of fact, usually the father was simply
the source of disciplinary measures.
Sons came to feel a deep longing for their fathers and the company of older
men. They became confused. They became angry. No one was there to
demonstrate to them what a man acts like, how men behave, how men act and
react to life situations. Furthermore, the "rite of passage" into manhood
that was experienced when the son, working alongside men, started to do a
"man's work", a "man's" job, became non-existent. Boys had nothing to tell
them that they were indeed men. That "rite of passage" is present in most
civilizations and societies. THere is something mystical and magical about
that ritual....the simple words from a respected adult male that says, "You
Are A Man".
Frankly, I'm convinced that organizations like scouting, OA, Mic-O-Say came
forward partly to fill this ever-widening gap between old men, adult men,
young men and boys. It is one place where boys observe men being
men....where they learn how men are supposed to act. Can women teach this?
Well, maybe some and maybe somewhat. Can they fill the void and ease the
longing? I don't think they can fill that void completely and the longing
will not abate.
Oh boy....I know I'm in for it!
BLUE SKIES!, Any day above ground is a good day!
Jim Peterson (of the Kansas variety)
ADC, Pelathe District
Heart of America Council Eagle Class of 1963
ASM, T-55, Lawrence, Kansas Brotherhood, Tamegonit Lodge
email: firstname.lastname@example.org Mic-O-Say: HW "Shieldmaker"