BOYS IN TROUBLE: Turnaround Strategies For Educators


[semester equivalent = 2.00 credits]



Lori Gibson



More and more boys are struggling. They are academically disengaged. They are facing social challenges alone. And they are struggling to imagine what their place will be in the wider world once they leave high school (if they even make it that far in school). It is estimated that only 35% of new college enrollees will be boys.  Rosalind Wiseman, best selling author, wrote Masterminds and Wingmen, about boys, believes educators are in a prime position to reverse some of these trends.

In this course we will look at the troubling symptoms many of our boys are showing, and then we will pull back the curtain on their inner lives.  We will look at the cultural expectations they are facing  (both from adults, and each other), and we will look at how they think and feel about their lives.  As we cultivate a new understanding of boys and their “Boy World,” new strategies for helping our boys feel more connected, more hopeful, and more interested in their academic futures will become apparent as well. This independent study course is appropriate for Pre-K through grade 12 teachers, administrators, support staff and parents. 


LEARNING OUTCOMES: Upon completion of this course, participants will have:

  1. Studied the impact that the unwritten rules of boy world (“Act Like a Man Box”- ALMB) has on the social and emotional development of boys.
  2. Identified the four (4) social groups that boys fall into and how popularity and status influence these hierarchies.  
  3. Examined the eight (8) different roles that boys can play within their individual groups and how the ALMB impacts the behavior of the boys within their groups.  
  4. Learned the 12 guidelines for a caring adult to follow to strengthen communication with boys.
  5. Understood the five (5) reasons boys lie and the four (4) “reconnaissance strategies” that caring adults can employ to encourage boys to become honest men.
  6. Considered how the ALMB dictates the expression of anger and how the strategy of S.E.A.L. can work to restore dignity to both parties in a dispute.
  7. How the ALMB influences friendships and conflicts and how to support boys who are struggling in their relationships with peers.

Completion of all specified assignments is required for issuance of hours or credit.  The Heritage Institute does not award partial credit. 


Completing the basic assignments (Section A. Information Acquisition) for this course automatically earns participant’s their choice of CEUs (Continuing Education Units), or Washington State Clock Hours or Oregon PDUs. The Heritage Institute offers CEUs and is an approved provider of Washington State Clock Hours and Oregon PDUs.



Continuing Education Quarter credits are awarded by Antioch University Seattle (AUS). AUS requires 75% or better for credit at the 400 level and 85% or better to issue credit at the 500 level. These criteria refer both to the amount and quality of work submitted.

  1. Completion of Information Acquisition assignments 30%
  2. Completion of Learning Application assignments 40%
  3. Completion of Integration Paper assignment 30%


CREDIT/NO CREDIT (No Letter Grades or Numeric Equivalents on Transcripts)
Antioch University Seattle (AUS) Continuing Education Quarter credit is offered on a Credit/No Credit basis; neither letter grades nor numeric equivalents are on a transcript. 400 level credit is equal to a "C" or better, 500 level credit is equal to a "B" or better. This information is on the back of the transcript.

AUS Continuing Education quarter credits may or may not be accepted into degree programs. Prior to registering determine with your district personnel, department head or state education office the acceptability of these credits for your purpose.



Required text, Masterminds and Wingmen, is available used from Amazon.

  • Masterminds and Wingmen: Helping Our Boys Cope with Schoolyard Power, Locker-Room Tests, Girlfriends, and the New Rules of Boy World
    ISBN# 9780307986689
    by Rosalind Wiseman

    Buy from Amazon


Text, Masterminds and Wingmen, is approximately $10 from Amazon.


Lori Gibson, M.A., currently works for Spokane Public Schools as an elementary counselor. Lori holds a Master's in Counseling Psychology, as well as a K-12 teaching certificate. Over the past 22 years she has held positions as a counselor for North Chicago High School in Illinois and the Lake Washington School District in Kirkland/Redmond, WA. During those years she served and/or provided leadership to the LWSD Safety Committee, both districts’ critical incident teams, and the LWSD Elementary Counselor Leadership Team. She has instituted proactive, early intervention school-wide programs including Steps to Respect, Kelso's Choices, Peace Builders and Peer Mediation. Lori has also taught parent education classes and volunteered for over fifteen years in community settings with children and adolescents. 


BOYS IN TROUBLE: Turnaround Strategies For Educators

Gurian, M. The Purpose of Boys: Helping Our Sons Find Meaning, Significance and Direction in Their Lives. Jossey-Bass. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2010  This book is a wonderful resource for educators and parents. It discusses some of the reasons that boys are struggling.  Gurian believes that boys need a significant sense of purpose and that it is the responsibility of families, coaches and mentors, along with the institutions of schools, churches and community groups to encourage boys to get back on track. There are many useful suggestions in this book to help educators become part of the solution to effectively support our boys. 

Hartley-Brewer, E. Raising Confident Boys: 100 Tips for Parents and Teachers. Cambridge, MA: De Capo Press 2001. This is an easily accessible resource for parents and educators. The basis of this book is that boys need intentional emotional support from caring adults. It is full of 100 tips on a wide range of strategies that can be employed by educators to encourage confidence in male students.

Reichert, M., & Hawley, R. Reaching Boys, Teaching Boys: Strategies That Work-and Why. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2010. This book is the result of an international study of the kinds of teaching strategies that truly engage boys in their education. There are three overarching findings from “The Teaching Boys Project” (sponsored by the International Boys’ School Coalition). They also found nine focus areas for best practices in engaging and educating boys. This is a must-read for every educator interested in making their classroom and school more responsive to the needs of boys! 

Pollack, W. Real Boys: Rescuing Our Sons from the Myths of Boyhood.  New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company, 1998.  This book is a classic.  It is based on research done by Pollack at Harvard Medical School and was a ground-breaking exploration of the emotional development of boys. The author postulates that it might be a man’s world, but it is not a boy’s world. He believes that our culture has created a harmful mandate, which he calls the” Boy Code,” that determines what it means to be a boy.  In most cases that means suppressing or covering up their emotions. It discusses the impact this dynamic has on boys and how it exists to their detriment.

Sax, L, Why Gender Matters: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know About the Emerging Science of Sex Differences.   New York, N.Y:  Random House, 2005.  This is a controversial book as Dr. Sax is one of the leaders of the single-sex education movement. The author is a psychologist and a family physician.  He discusses the biological differences between the genders and then applies those findings to how boys and girls learn, take risks, and many other important issues. It is an interesting read regardless which side of the single-sex education debate you find yourself on.

Wiseman, R. Masterminds and Wingmen, New York, N.Y.: Harmony Books, 2013.This is the course text and is a comprehensive look into the inner-lives of pre-teen and adolescent boys. It is a must read for everyone who has, works with, or is interested in reaching out to boys. It pulls back the curtain on what is really happening on the ground in boys’ lives. What makes this book special is that the author worked with over 200 editors throughout the writing. These were boys (and a few girls) from every socio-economic status, type of school and from all over the United States.

Wiseman, R. The Guide: Managing Jerks, Recruiting Wingmen, and Attracting Who You Want. Ebook format RPW, Inc., 2013.This is the companion guide to the course text. It is written for adolescent boys and is a pared- down version of the original book. This is a good resource for students as it delves into the issues of social hierarchies, friendships, anger, jerks, parents, girls, problems with authority and more.