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Men and their Boy’s Day

January 28, 2011

`Think what a great father-son bonding day it will be.’ ‘Oh, do we have to, mum?’

Well, pro-active mum enrolled us into this school sponsored bonding day late last year, and it was duly forgotten about, until the morning of the final Friday of the holidays dawned. One would not use the word enthusiastic to describe the student’s reaction to joining his father at school that day. Arriving a few minutes late, the student sounded like he was auditioning for a role as an Israelite protesting about entering the promised land (a la Numbers 14). ‘No one else in my year will be there. Why do I have to go? No, I don’t know where the room is…grumble, grumble, grumble.’ Yes, this looks like being one memorable father-son bonding session, for sure! After a tour of the College we finally located the room for the venue – the student had been working on the strategy that father might opt to return home if they searched in vain for long enough.

Immediately, the bonding began with a tremendous problem-solving session between father and son. Choose your family problem then select your de bono hat: white, red, black, yellow, green or blue and together tackle the issue. Beginning with grunts and muttering, father and son moved from cave man communication to something resembling modern English as we grappled with the frustrations of all the family sharing one computer at home. Coloured hats were flying in every direction: black hat danger ‘failure at school’; red hat giving feelings of annoyance bordering on paralysis. This was combated with the yellow hat declaring the positive benefits of sharing and culminating with the triumphant cry of the blue hat: ‘we can do it’!

But there was no time to pause in this action-packed programme where the X-box was the miracle cure for the young. Hats were cast aside as we looked to the future. The questions penetrated deep and left fathers gasping and their sons eager: “How can you be worthy in an unknown future? How will you make a difference?” The challenge was out there: the world of the future will demand capacities that, until now, have been mere options. We need to recognise the five minds: the disciplinary mind, the synthesizing mind, the creating mind, the respectful mind, the ethical mind. The presenter continued with a story of a happy refugee and by this point, this father was wondering whether his own mind had gone into exile seeking safety. His mind was seeking refuge in the old school days as the new future  was described: accelerating globalisation, mounting information overload, science and technology hegemony, machinery takeover, civilisations clashing, declining natural resources. This was not only cutting edge stuff, the educational transformation we were now engaged with was at the bleeding edge. It was all too much.

‘Help, who sent me here…wouldn’t it be better to go back to Egypt?’ ‘There, there Dad, it’s all right…take a deep breath, conjugate a Latin verb: amare in the present tense: amo, amas, amat…good Dad…now what about declining bellum: b’lum, b’lum, b’lum, b’li, b’lo, b’lo – that’s better; keep going, Dad: bla, bla, bla’. Thanks son! Yes, the session was proving a roaring success as we bonded. Lunch, did they say lunch? Well, that’s what we came for! Chops, dip, kebabs, prawns on the BBQ and watching the cricket – this is what brings men and their boys together.

Pardon, maam? There’s an afternoon session with the Mandala project and Eastern Visual Representations? Yes, we’d love to go, but unfortunately work calls. Must get back – but thanks anyway. It’s done wonders for us – we’ve been glued together for life as a result.

What an outing! And the big revelation was still to come: Cobus Potgieter! But that will have to wait until the next post because as we were told when the school internet connection failed: Shift Happens!

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