Monday, January 30, 2012
An Extraordinary School for Boys
If you are a tennis fan and have been watching the Australian Open over the past fortnight you might have missed the first two parts of this fantastic documentary which is airing on ABC1 at the moment. If you are a parent to school age boys and/or if you are involved with teaching boys this is not to be missed!
Gareth Malone is a choirmaster who has become somewhat of a household name in the UK following the success of the programme 'The Choir'. You can read more about Gareth and the various projects he has been involved in at his own website
In 'Gareth Malone's Extraordinary School for Boys' Gareth takes on the challenge of teaching a class of primary school boys and engaging them in learning. It's a formidable task that lies ahead but Gareth Malone knows a thing or two about teaching boys, he used to be one himself. In the first episode they leave the confines of the classroom and set up an outdoor camp in the woods on the edge of the school grounds, a place normally out of bounds, for the activities which Gareth believes will motivate the boys and give them a new zeal for learning. Activities that involve an element of risk such as using handsaws for which permission is required and given with some reluctance by the head teacher. The other teachers are skeptical and think chaos will be the end result.
In the second episode Gareth tackles the boys reading and their disinterest in books. Competition, parental involvement, allowing the boys to choose the books for the school and making the library more appealing for boys are just some of the strategies he tries. He also has a wonderful innate ability for instilling confidence in people no matter what their age or background. It's beautiful to watch as is the camp at their outdoor classroom in the woods. Gareth invites the fathers to attend with their sons and somehow persuades them to read aloud around the campfire. I had goosebumps!
That's just a little glimpse of what you missed if you were watching the tennis in the evenings and sorry I checked but this series doesn't appear to be on iview but it is not too late. Episode 3 and the final one in the series is all about writing and airs tomorrow evening - that's Tuesday at 9.30PM on ABC1. It is well worth watching. Let me know what you thought of the series if you have watched it. I'm really looking forward to seeing what the outcomes were for this group of boys. One thing's for sure, I bet they will never forget Gareth Malone and will remember being a part of this programme for the rest of their lives.
Here's the link to the programme at the ABC website and one to the page on Gareth's website about his 'Extraordinary School for Boys'. There's a link there to a blog article he wrote about his experience and the methods he employed. And if you are at all interested in classical music check out his new book - looks fascinating!
Update: According to the guide tonight's episode is now airing at 9.59PM in NSW. Glad I didn't set the recorder or I would have missed the first half!