A Curriculum of Male Mentorship: 1/5

If you were writing the lesson plans for an introduction to manhood, what would you include?

On The Man-Making Blog this September, Earl Hipp proposed a year-long introduction to manhood, including some ideas for activities to lead boys through that would build the kind of men we want to see more of in our communities. Some of the lessons would teach practical skills, while others would be designed to develop character traits.

What would be the goals of an introduction to manhood, and what are the traits and skills necessary for all boys? For some boys?

What have you experienced, that could be replicated and shared with a young man you are mentoring?

What activities have you been led through by a mentor, that shaped you positively?

What are the character traits you want to instill in a boy who is close to you? How do you think it can be done?

What are the skills that every boy deserves to be taught, that will make him a happier, healthier man?

How can you teach a young man to find out who he is, what his values are, and what he can contribute to society?


The Good Life on The Good Men Project hosts themed series on subjects related to men and masculinity. To write for the upcoming series, A Curriculum of Male Mentorship, send your final submission to Justin Cascio, Senior Editor of The Good Men Project, by email at justin@goodmenproject.com by January 5, 2013. Pitches, queries, and new writers are all encouraged.


Read more Calls For Submissions.

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  1. Here’s what I would add in as part of the cirriculum.

    To all the young men and boys here in this class, I would like to say:

    You are NOT at fault for the ills of the world. Don’t listen to the people that rub it in your face with “Men start all the wars”, “If women ran the world, things would be more peaceful”, “All men are rapists and criminals, statistics prove it” etc. Anyone who does that, you have the right to defend yourself, your principles and your integrity. This class supports, and endorses, you.

    You are NOT responsible for women’s oppression. People forget that society involves both genders so women are responsible too. But if anyone tries to pin it all on your shoulders, believing that men should get a taste of their own medicine for oppressing women a long time, you have the right to point out just how hurtful and exclusionary this point of view is. This class supports, and endorses, you.

    If any of you have ever been hurt by women or girls in the past or currently going through it, you MATTER! People say that men’s pain, when caused by a woman or girl, isn’t worth examining and likely have pulled the “Women have it worse” cannard. Especially towards male survivors of female abuse. In this class, YOU MATTER! No one is going to dismiss, diminish or invalidate your pain and sadness. If you feel the need to express it, do so. No one is going to judge or belittle. A safe, supportive, non-judgemental environment is the key towards building your self-esteem back up and defending yourself against the ignorance society pushes on your trauma.

    I would at least use that as the opening towards the cirriculum.

  2. Richard Aubrey says:

    Kipling’s protagonist in The Brushwood Boy went to school where, among other things, he learned “the things no fellow can do”. By extension, he probably learned the things a fellow must do. Regardless.
    It is, in a sense, liberating to find you are required to do some things and refrain from others. It provides a sense of maturity.

  3. Richard Aubrey says:

    By example. Talking doesn’t do it.

  4. I’m always amazed at how these calls for submissions turn into open threads. I hope each of you will strongly consider writing an essay or an article for this call. It’s more than just the lessons you want to impart, but how you would do it.

  5. A lot of good things have been brought up and I can only think of one thing.

    Don’t shape your life around women. Yes they are people too and all that but they are not the end all be all benchmark for manhood that some of them like to think they are. It doesn’t matter how many you have sex with. It doesn’t matter if they think you’re a coward for not doing something that is against your own moral/ethical code. It doesn’t matter if you deem it necessary to defend yourself against one (meaning you shouldn’t be expected to put up with abuse, physical or otherwise, just because she’s a woman and you’re a man).

    It’s one thing to interact with women in a respectful manner and whatnot but don’t let them determine your worth as a person or as a man.

  6. The poet Robert Bly, a leader in the men’s movement in the 80s, devotes a whole book to this: Iron John. As well as the noble qualities that we’ld all like to see, the book explores regaining more primal, not macho, qualities that enhance creativity, vitality and personal power. It also explores why lots of men, while good guys, have lost the notion of what it is to be ” a man”, and society at large is also grappling with this conundrum. Brilliant and accessible book for our age.

  7. Richard Aubrey says:

    Learn to be competent in the physical world NOT INCLUDING COMPUTERS.
    Competence provides not only the opportunity to take care of things yourself, but to take care of things for others, and to look like a Good Man.
    Seriious first aid. First-responder, combat lifesaver level.
    Martial arts.
    Starting a car which isn’t starting.
    Wiring at least a step beyond changing a bulb.
    Cut wood. Learning to handle a chain saw means you know snowblowers, compressors, leaf blowers, snow machines, ATVs, possibly. Ax. Hatchet. Splitting maul. Concrete saw.
    How to handle a drunk.
    Learn these things from good men. You won’t need lessons in being a good man. It comes with hanging with them.

    • “It comes with hanging with them”
      exactly, too many boys growing up without fathers. With the best will in the world, there is no substitute for the instruction, approval and steady hand of an experienced male mentor. Only a man can initiate and guide a boy to manhood. And women and children need their spouses and fathers to be MEN.

  8. 1> be honest
    2> how to apologize, and how to clean up a mess you’ve made
    3> how to find your purpose in life (hint, it doesn’t involve beer, video games, or porn)
    4> how to take care of yourself, administratively, physically, emotionally, spiritually
    5> it’s OK to feel and talk about emotions. if you don’t, they’ll possess you.
    6> how to protect yourself in a bad situation
    7> how to say NO respectfully
    8> how to get a job (it does not involve a website…)
    9> how to keep a job
    10> express gratitude, often, even for things that hurt.


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