Boys have been lagging behind girls in academic achievement in recent years, and John Storm says it’s a modern dynamic that signals trouble.
Storm, a community volunteer and owner of Oxford Learning in St. Catharines, worries for our social and financial future. Young men are earning fewer degrees, gaining fewer employable skills and lagging behind girls in test scores, he said.
Storm will be the main speaker at an upcoming Community Learning session on Oct. 17 entitled “The education of boys: our goals and fears.”
“I hope by the end of the evening that we have a few people who can spark the same conversation with other groups of people,” he said. “This is an important issue.”
The session is just one of 14 Conversation Cafés planned for the Community Learning fall season. “The education of boys: our goals and fears” will be moderated by Kim Yielding, manager of communications and public relations with the District School Board of Niagara. Storm will speak for about 15 minutes, followed by about an hour of group discussion.
“We know a couple of things,” said Storm, who hosts a weekly current affairs show, Taking Niagara by Storm, on TV Cogeco. “We know that boys are failing academically like never before. We know that their communication skills are lagging.”
In a transitioning area like Niagara where unemployment is high, it’s important that our young men are flourishing, he said.
“My hope is that if we get 15 or 20 people in a room, we can get things done, even if it’s to get more people talking about this.”
Getting people talking is the purpose of Community Learning, now in its second year. Other topics this season include “Can human differences peacefully co-exist?” on Nov. 6 and “Why do we hide hurt, illness, and injury?” on Nov. 14.
Community Learning tackles topics that are current and appeal to a broad range of people, said director Kate Cassidy.
“We try to bring different people together from across Niagara who wouldn’t typically have the opportunity to interact with each other to discuss questions with no easy answers and hear other’s unique perspectives.”
Conversation Cafes are free and held in meeting rooms and coffee shops across Niagara, Cassidy said. Some people come with statistics. Some people come with opinions.
“Whatever people want to bring to it, we want them there,” she said. “If they want to come listen, that’s important. If they want to come talk, that’s important too.”
Community Learning also hosts Community Discovery events such as the Willowbank School of Restoration Arts on Oct. 15, and “Family Learning Adventures” such as the Robo Tech: Vehicle Challenge on Oct. 15 in Fort Erie and Mega Mystery Niagara at Brock on Oct. 22.
Storm will also participate in the session “Why get involved in the community? Motivations, benefits and methods” on Nov. 21.
The education of boys: our goals and fears
When: Monday, Oct. 17, 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Where: Coffee Culture, 4388 Queen St., Niagara Falls