Don’t Decorate the ‘Nothing Box’ and Don’t Disconnect the Wires

It is great to have our boys and girls back at the College. I’ve spent quite a bit of time this week saying hello and reconnecting with our students and hearing their holiday stories. My interactions with them have highlighted the different personalities and indeed the differences between the way our boys and girls communicate. Spending time with my daughters and wife during the holiday period has also reinforced the differences in the way that boys (me) and girls (my girls) think. Our kids seem busy, but they also, through my conversations, seem busy in different ways. I’ve struggled to process the need for boys (big and small) to do nothing and the need for girls to always be doing something.  Boys tend to have two speeds – flat out and stop.  Why? And girls seem to have a need to be doing something all the time. Why? I’m not sure I have all the answers but below are some reflections.

Why can’t boys pace themselves more evenly and why can’t girls enjoy the downtime of doing nothing, even if there is unfinished business or work?   Should we be trying to change this ‘flat out or stop’ or ‘always doing’ modus operandi, or should we instead be working with our unique traits?

Someone reminded me the other day of A Tale of Two Brains by Mark Gungor, a YouTube clip outlining the differences in how males and females think and function.  I strongly recommend this to you as it is very funny and very insightful.  It helped me understand me better, my girls better, and when I showed my wife, I’m sure she had an epiphany regarding some of the ways I work.  I did too.

The most telling thing for me is the different way the male and female brain organises itself – the male brain is in boxes.  Boys have a box for every component of their lives.  A box for each subject, a box for their sport, for music, for friends, for family, for mum, for dad.  In fact, boys have a box in their brain for everything.  This explains why boys can be quite literal.  If you ask them a question about their maths homework, they will often not draw the link to you trying to discuss how school is going in general, or whether they have any work across all of their subjects.  Their response will only relate to the specific ‘box’ mentioned in the actual question.  This is very different from how many girls function (again, the three I live with as well as those at SCOTS) where their minds are organised as a bunch of wires where everything is connected.  Their school work is connected to their friends, which is connected to their parents, home, to their social life.  In short, everything relates to everything. Ask them a question about one thing and the next thing you know you are talking about something completely different but just as emotional.  Is this ringing any bells for you?  For how boys and girls are different?  It is helpful for us as leaders and parents when we attempt to communicate and teach our children.  It also represents the rich value in co-education catering to, understanding and enjoying the differences between boys and girls, as happens in ‘real life’.  Neither is better than the other.  They are just different in how they work.  And differences are good.

One ‘box’ that every boy (and man) has in his brain, is termed by Mark Gungor ‘the nothing box’.  This is the best box we males have and is often our ‘go to’ box, our box of choice.  It is why we don’t hear what we’ve been asked, it’s why we flick channels without watching a show, it’s why we fish and do other activities which amount to doing nothing.  Mums, wives and girls don’t understand the joy in doing nothing and aren’t wired for this.

Girls are always doing.  Boys do things flat out until they stop.  The doing is important, but for boys, so too is the stop.  So no, no-one can enter our nothing box.  That’s why we have one. Equally, we need to understand that girls need to be doing and get frustrated by nothing at times. The differences are fun but also frustrating at times, but thank heavens for these differences!

Girls would only want to put something in males’ nothing boxes, to decorate it or create something.  Boys want the nothingness of the nothing box to calm our minds.  We need it to deal with stress, to re-energise, to relax, and to prepare for doing something.  Something flat out.  This box is perfect with nothing in it. Girls need to know that everything is done, they recognise that there is always more to do, and see doing nothing as doing nothing when perhaps it is something. Equally, boys don’t understand the need to keep doing things, especially when you can do nothing. But the battle over nothing vs something is important to find the middle ground for us all.

So sometimes the ‘nothing’ is just what our boys need and our girls could learn. Equally our boys could learn that sometimes things are connected and we need to keep going and doing in order to get somewhere.  Not always, but definitely sometimes.  Flat out and stop vs keep going.  They are both important and it is important to know how we all think and work so we can better learn, at school and from each other.

The staff and the students have started this week with great positivity and energy. I look forward to this term and what it will bring in the lives of our students. I also want to thank the parents who attended the P & F gathering on Monday and especially the P & F for their generosity in hosting this event.

Kyle Thompson – Principal