Sat | Oct 31, 2020

Terrelonge: Toxic masculinity affecting our boys

Published:Wednesday | April 24, 2019 | 12:00 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer
(Left to right): Katherine Grigsby, director, and representative of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's cluster office for the Caribbean; Alando Terrelonge, minister of state in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information; Winsome Gordon, chief executive officer of the Jamaica Teaching Council; Bishop Conrad Pitkin, custos of St James; and Joy Clark, third vice-president of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, pose for a group photo during an appreciation and recognition ceremony for educators yesterday, in Montego Bay.


Alando Terrelonge, state minister in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, is urging teachers to pay keen attention to how they treat boys in the classroom and to create an environment where they will not shy away from education.

“There has been much said about how we choose to educate boys in Jamaica versus how we educate girls,” said Terrelonge, who was delivering the keynote address at yesterday’s appreciation ceremony for teachers in St James who took part in last year’s 11th annual International Policy Dialogue Forum on Teachers and Teaching in Montego Bay.

“Sometimes we throw our boys under the bus and say, ‘Lawd, dem bad! Dem give so much trouble!’ while not recognising the cultural environment which places a premium on toxic masculinity. This affects how our boys behave in the classroom, in the home, and in the community,” added Terrelonge,

While acknowledging that sometimes the boys present with behavioural challenges, he said that sometimes they face pressure because of how society says a boy should act.

“Sometimes the boy giving trouble at the back of the class could be the brightest boy in the class, but if you sit at the front of the class, talk English too good, if you don’t give any trouble, or if you’re not talking about football, cars, or girls and what you’re doing to them, you’re a girl,” said Terrelonge, in explaining societal pressure. “It’s that sort of toxic masculinity which affects how our boys learn within the classroom and how they grow up and behave within the society.”

Terrelonge went on to urge teachers to let boys be their natural selves instead of pressuring them to conform to society’s views of masculinity.

“Pay special attention to our boys because sometimes they just need the reassurance that it’s okay to learn and to be yourself. That’s how you can connect more with our young men, by allowing them to be themselves and not pressuring them to think that the toxic masculinity is the way forward,” added Terrelonge.