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Young Boys: Proving a Goodness-of-Fit, by Francis Wardle

Compared to young girls, many young boys struggle in our early childhood programs and elementary schools. More young boys than young girls are expelled and suspended; more young boys are diagnosed with a developmental delay or special needs; and more young boys are placed on some kind of behavioral plan. Further, many young boys are constantly “in trouble” in our programs and elementary schools – placed into TO, prevented from going outside to play or to engage in other activities they enjoy, and are the subject of uncomfortable parent – teacher conferences.
This presentation briefly examines reasons for this dilemma, and then provides many suggestions to address the situation. In the presentation Dr. Wardle argues that the underlying reason for this lack of goodness - of-fit is that we do not provide what young boys need for healthy growth, development, and learning. This lack of goodness-of-fit includes the environment, discipline approaches, the focus of the curriculum, many early childhood standards, a “readiness philosophy”, and a lack of men in early childhood programs and elementary schools. This presentation will provide many ideas - some simple, some requiring fundamental intuitional changes – to address this lack of goodness-of-fit.

Francis Wardle grew up on a mixed farm in the wild border country between England and Wales. His early years were filled with damming swift streams, herding sheep, hiking on the local hills, and playing in yellow gorse and purple heather. It was an ideal environment for a very curious, active young boy. Francis came to the US with his family when he was 16 years of age. After attending University he began his formal teaching experience at Da Nahazli School, an alternative school in Taos, New Mexico, and then continue to teach at PACERS school in Kansas City, Missouri. He has had over 20 years of experience with Head Start in a variety of capacities. For four years he was the educational director for Children’s World Learning Centers. Since 1997, as a member of Partners of the Americas, Dr. Wardle has visited Brazil on many occasions, building playgrounds, and studying education, culture, and race. Currently he teaches classes for the School of Advanced Studies, at the University of Phoenix, and early childhood education classes for Red Rocks Community College in Lakwood, Colorado.