Preparing Boys for Life.

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Charting the road to character
Dr. John Nagl

The IBSC is a 20-year-old organization of boys' schools worldwide, devoted to sharing best practices in educating boys and to promoting the idea of single-gender education as a key to developing good men and women. The IBSC annual conference features keynote presentations and workshops on subjects ranging from 21st century learning and mastery in teaching to dealing with transgender student policies.

Most of the presentations are given by other educators; last year, Haverford School Art Department Chair Chris Fox gave a marvelous presentation in Cape Town, South Africa on "Boys as Makers", thinking that helped develop the Engineering and Design Studio in Wilson Hall. This year, Director of Global Studies Andrew Poolman gave an equally inspiring talk on ways to ensure that boys reflect on and fully absorb what they learn during overseas learning experiences.

Andrew Poolman IBSC Vancouver

My IBSC Action Research project assessed the impact that guided journaling has on students who participate in Haverford's travel programs. Although apprehensive at first, the boys appreciated how journaling led them to embrace differences, realize the importance of reflecting on their interactions and experiences, and guided them to become more self-aware and define for themselves the concept of 'human geography.'Andrew Poolman

The most thought-provoking presentation to me personally this year was one by four English teachers and administrators at St. Mark's in Dallas. For nearly a decade, St. Mark's has been working to integrate character education throughout the curriculum, and achieved a breakthrough in the last year by putting the question of "What makes a good man?" at the center of their 10th grade English curriculum. This is a project that is near to my own heart; we chose David Brooks' The Road to Character as our faculty, staff, and Board of Trustees summer reading to inspire similar thinking here at The Haverford School.

As we prepare for the new school year, I will challenge our faculty to think hard about what they can do to incorporate character development into their curricula more intentionally. I will also continue my own work in determining how we teach our boys, what it is we should teach them, and how we can make The Haverford School an even more effective institution to prepare boys for life.

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