In Part II of GCP’s interview with Dr. Pedro Noguera, Professor of Teaching and Learning at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development, GCP asked Dr. Noguera for suggestions to help parents identify the best educational settings for their sons from pre-school to college.
Dr. Noguera noted that parents often look for the most highly structured, regimented pre-school program for their son, because they feel it is critical for their boy to learn to follow rules. He suggests instead that parents should carefully consider their son’s personality and think about who their child is when deciding where he should start his formal education. Dr. Noguera firmly believes that an open and less structured early learning environment, like the one found in Montessori classrooms, can benefit a child and ”develop [his] intrinsic motivation to learn”, thus creating a life long learner. When trying to determine whether an unstructured Montessori environment or a more structured environment would be better for your son, Dr. Noguera noted that, “as a general rule, if the home environment is less structured, more structure is needed in school.” He cautioned that unstructured home environments are found at all socio-economic levels, so it is important to be honest about your home environment.
GCP asked Dr. Noguera his opinion of the push to educate boys of color in single sex schools. He expressed skepticism that single sex schools are the best solution in all cases. He noted that “our society has a lot of confusion about masculinity,” which can result in single sex schools focusing on teaching the boys rules to follow to become men. He believes that the better schools, both single sex and co-ed, “are taking a looser approach [and creating] a space for [boys] to be themselves.”
Middle and High School
When selecting a middle or high school for our boys, Dr. Noguera cautioned parents not to consider schools that did not offer a nurturing environment and a solid support system. Once these threshold attributes are met, he believes that the most important factor parents should consider is the school’s track record. Parents should ask where the Black and Latino male students have gone on to school after graduation. In addition, parents should be sure that the school does not engage in tracking (separating students by perceived ability). Lastly, parents should make certain that the school has a wide range of extra-curricular activities available.
Dr. Noguera suggested that Black and Latino parents needed to broaden our definition of success when it comes to our children. He implored parents to help our sons (and daughters) discover their passions, reminding us that the happiest adults are those who can make a living doing what they love. Dr. Noguera encouraged parents to consider having our sons take a gap year between high school and college, noting that “life is not a race,” and that there are many pathways to success.