I’ve read articles and listened to radio broadcasts about how boys are doing less well in school than girls, graduate from college less than girls and overall seem to be falling behind academically. Daryl Capuano, author of Motivate Your Son (Student Mastery Publishing, 2012), has read the same articles and seen the statistics. He works with parents helping their children succeed in school at his tutoring and educational consultancy, The Learning Consultants Group, in Connecticut.
In the first chapter he states that in the last decade or so he has seen far more boys than girls brought to him by parents who are concerned their children are not doing well in school. One particular statistic he cites may motivate parents to read his book: “One third of boys between the ages of 22 and 34 is living at home with his parents.” The statistic, from a Washington Post analysis of the 2000 Census, pre-dates the Great Recession.
The book uses a few case studies to illustrate the various approaches Capuano takes to motivate the boys with whom he has worked. Capuano does not offer a theory as to why boys are lacking motivation and falling behind, his mission is to motivate them to be successful in high school, college and beyond without deciphering the social forces that likely keep his practice very busy and successful.
In chapter one, “Jake” describes how he gets distracted from studying, finds school boring (and the busy work of homework even more boring) and has trouble staying engaged in classroom discussions. Capuano helps Jake change the way he studies and his attitude toward studying and school work so he can eventually enjoy the relative freedom and more interesting challenges that await him in college.
What I really appreciated about the book is Capuano’s obvious understanding of high school boys and how he approaches increasing their motivation. No buzz words or cute acronyms. Just clear, concise descriptions of his methods. When I saw the book’s plain cover and cover descriptor: “Inspire your boy to be engaged in school, excited for college, and energized for success,” I thought, oh goody another “all you have to do is just…” book.
My first clue to the book’s legitimacy is the absence of exclamation points on the cover. I have not had the chance to read the entire book but as much as I’ve read makes me want to travel back in time and try some of the techniques on my son, and then travel further back in time and try them on my old high school self.
Some of the success Capuano has with students may be attributed to the fact that he is not parenting the boys he is working with, so he is not including the “you forgot to take out the garbage, again” argument with the argument over poor grades. Still, the book offers logical, solid strategies. Jake hates the drudgery of studying, so Capuano suggests that he ratchet up the intensity of studying. He knows Jake likes action and excitement so he tells Jake to try to complete an assignment in 10 minutes that Jake insists will take him 45 minutes. Jake has to concentrate and give the assignment his complete attention for a short time. To Jake’s surprise, the assignment takes only 15 minutes, “saving” him a half hour.
Capuano invites parents to finds out what type of boy their son is from the choices: Perfect Boy, Social Boy, Star Boy, Dreamer Boy, Observer Boy, Worry Boy, Adventure Boy, Boss Boy and Go With The Flow Boy. The majority of the book is devoted to describing techniques to motivate the different types of boys. It doesn’t suggest that motivating your son is easy, but for parents willing to put themselves in charge of changing their sons’ educational outcome, it offers insights and logical approaches to changing behaviors and habits.