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Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Recruiting Males to Higher Education Through A Strength Based-Positive Masculinity Perspective Part I
late Mr. Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which
you can use to change the world.” What a powerful deposition? Being a higher
education professional myself, I am biased towards such a statement. I do agree
with Mr. Mandela on the power and importance of education. Therefore,
continuing education through higher education is important for citizens of the
United States. In fact, Margaret Spelling who served as the United States
Secretary of Education (2005-2009) once said, “Higher education is confronting challenges, like the
economy is, about the need for a higher number of more adequately trained, more
highly educated citizenry.”
Such a statement validates the importance
that education, especially higher education, has in society. Ultimately, if
higher education were not important, then higher education would not have began
with Harvard University in 1636 and multiplied into 4,495 degree-granting
institutions by 2010 (United States Department of Education, National Center
for Educational Statistics, 2012).
In the beginning months of the
blog site for ACPA Standing Committee for Men and Masculinities I submitted a
blog titled Mentoring College Men to Close the Gender Gap: An
Interdepartmental Approach for A Small Regional Campus,
which can be found at http://acpascmm.blogspot.com/2013/08/mentoring-college-men-to-close-gender.html.
It is clear through scholarship and research that there continues to be a
definite gender gap in regards to college enrollment, academic performance, and
college graduation between women and men.
primary responsibility for Western Kentucky University’s Glasgow Campus is to
recruit students. This has put me on the frontline of interacting with
prospective students. My experience bolsters research and publications that
explore the gender gap that exists in academics. While meeting and having
conversations with prospective students, female students tend to be more
interested in pursuing higher education (specifically a four-year degree).
My involvement in the ACPA Standing
Committee for Men and Masculinities has developed an interest to do more to
excite men of rural Kentucky to attend an institution for higher education. The
obstacles that males in rural Kentucky face are plentiful. Such obstacles
include socio-economic status, lack of resources, role models, culture, gender
roles, home life, peer influence, etc.
Ultimately, higher education is
important and continues to be important in society. While I am not under the
belief that every male in the United States must enroll at an institution of
higher education, I do believe that males should be enrolling in equal amounts
as females. So, this begs the question: How can one best recruit men to higher
One way of bettering recruiting
efforts towards men (specifically from rural areas) is through a positive
psychology/positive masculinity model (PPPM) as a strength- based approach.
People are familiar with the maladaptive aspects of males such as violence,
competition, and aggression (Englar-Carlson and Kiselica, 2013, p. 402).However, there are many redeeming qualities
that males exhibit that are positive, healthy, and admirable forms of
masculinity is about changing the dialogue to what men can strive for that
transcends the sexist socialization they have experienced. Many men remain
confused about who they are or who they should become in terms of gender roles.
Therefore, positive-healthy masculinity can be a vehicle to mediate the
essentialist and destructive stereotypes that cause much unnecessary suffering
for men, women, and children,” (Englar-Carlson and Kiselica, 2013, p.
Essentially, the PPPM approach can
be utilized in recruitment efforts by incorporating male strengths into
dialogue about higher education. With less male students enrolling to college
(specifically males from rural areas), I see the PPPM approach as a means to
get behind the masculine stereotypes to show prospective males students the
opportunities that can be had through higher education by expounding upon
This approach can provide an opportunity to challenge
men who may lack purpose or direction in life (Englar-Carlson and Kiselica,
2013, p. 403).Englar-Carlson and
Kiselica (2013) suggests that using this approach consists of affirming and building
upon male strengths in the following ways (p. 404-405):
1. Male ways of relating.Recognize that boys and men, especially
traditional males, tend to form fiiendships by engaging in activities that have
a high action orientation, such as playing a game of basketball or working on a
2. Generative fatherhood.This refers to the way adult men care for the
next generation by responding in a consistent way to the needs of children over
time. For example, loving fathers stimulate the physical development of their
children through rigorous play, promote the autonomy and socialized behavior of
their children through the teaching of values and rules and the application of
consistent authoritative discipline, and foster their children's cognitive
development through various forms of intellectual stimulation. Older men, especially
when they are in the role of grandfather, express their love by offering their
wisdom and support to younger generations.
3. Male ways of caring.Many men are socialized to protect their
loved ones, to fix things around the house, and to offer solutions to others
when they are faced with a problem.
4. Male self-reliance.Western male socialization often teaches boys
and men to use their own resources to solve problems and handle difficult
situations. Psychologically healthy men enhance the expectation to be
self-reliant with a consideration of the advice and assistance of others to
address life's challenges.
5. The worker-provider tradition.Being a worker and a provider is often a
cultural expectation and a source of pride and fulfillment for many men.
6. Male daring, courage, and risk taking.Healthy men express their courage by taking
risks without being reckless. At times, they may be called upon to face peril
for the sake of completing a task or protectinga loved one.
7. The group orientation of men.Many men, across cultural groups, have
learned to socialize and work in groups, such as athletic teams, fraternities,
and military units.
8. Male humanitarian service organizations.Throughout the history of the United States,
numerous humanitarian organizations began as organizations of men dedicated to
serving others, such as the Loyal Order of the Moose and the Lions Club
International. Counselors should honor their male clients who participate in
such organizations and help other male clients who are seeking positive
companionship in their lives to explore and join male humanitarian groups.
9. Male humor.Men tend to use humor as a way to diffuse tension,
express affection, and find escape from their worries.
10. Male heroism.Men look for and learn from their heroes, who
represent a broad spectrum, from some of the great figures in history, to
athletic stars, to everyday decent men.
Of course, this counseling approach
is just conceptual in the realm of higher education and recruiting. More over,
the decision of attending an institution of higher education is eclectic in
regards to variables. However, I am curious to apply most (if not all) of the
male strengths listed above in recruiting male students to an institution of
higher education. This can be done through dialogue and engagement with
prospective male students. Ultimately, the purpose of using such a model is to
surpass barriers that exist due to negative aspects of masculinity to help
encourage males to pursue higher education.
This is part one of a post. In the
sequel to this blog post, I will share my experience in using the PPPM approach
to recruiting male students to an institution of higher education.
M. and Kiselica, M.S. (2013). Affirming the strengths in men: A positive
masculinity approach to assisting male clients. Journal of Counseling & Development, 91. 399-409.
for Education Statistics (2012). Fast
Facts. Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=84