Mr Burgio joined 16 students in this year's World's Greatest Shave.

Fostering gentle men

The other night I was babysitting my grandchildren. Lily had been taken, against her will as always, to her cot and Sebastian was on the couch with me. I began to engage him in conversation about what we might do during the holidays. He became very sullen when he found out that each Term is punctuated by a break of two weeks and loudly protested how he wished Year 1 meant school all day, every day.

Youth has ethereal beauty and one of my favourite pastimes is to watch Sebastian dote on his mother and vice versa. It is bittersweet for me because I have not experienced a mother's love for over 40 years. That fact probably explains many of my flaws, but it does remind me of the hopes and aspirations each mother has for her child, and of the relationship a mother has with her son. My daughter seems constantly worried about Sebastian's interaction with other children; will he be bullied? Will he be pressured to change? Will he remain sweet and sensitive? Will he succumb to the pressures of unwanted behaviours? Even this year, in the first few weeks of Year 1, I saw his classmates' reaction to him kissing me at his Edu-Dance and the comments that were made afterwards. I guess the exaggerated wiping of his lips was a reaction to this ridicule.

This demonstrated to me the changing way we help young men grow in the 21st century. CBC Fremantle has a vision — to partner with parents in forming the CBC Gentleman. It is with interest then that I came across an article by Tim Winton about the pressures young men face in their emotional development. He was speaking about his latest book The Shepherd's Hut and commenting that in children we see:

What beautiful creatures they are. There's so much about them, and in them, that's lovely. Graceful. Dreamy. Vulnerable. Qualities we either don't notice, or simply blind ourselves to. You see, there's great native tenderness in children. In boys, as much as in girls. But so often I see boys having the tenderness shamed out of them.

Tim also spoke about his time surfing and the fact he often overhears boys' conversations. He hears 'stuff that wants to make him hug them, stuff that wants to make him cry and sadly stuff that makes him ashamed to be a male.' He surmises that the boys are simply experimenting; 'rehearsing their masculinity' as he puts it. The cues they receive after each behaviour will determine the behaviours they will more likely adopt.

When we think of the future awaiting our children, we think of an Australia that lacks for nothing. One that is free and has been based on a set of values that embrace inclusivity, compassion, egalitarianism and meritocracy. And yet each year more than 70 women are killed in domestic violence situations by men. As I have said at Parent Information Evenings, if great white sharks took this toll on humans, we would drain the oceans. The vision of this Community is to create men who are strong yet gentle. Focussed yet compassionate. Courageous yet reverent. Proud yet humble. Independent yet inclusive. Driven yet inquisitive. Today's boy, tomorrow's gentle man.

Tim Winton concludes that poor male behaviour is learned. As this Term ends in wonderful celebration with Edmund Rice Day, as we look back on the College's partnered success with you and your sons, as we prepare for the next season of AFL, Football, Baseball, Water Polo or whatever other sport our boys are involved in, please remember your sons are always looking for cues on appropriate behaviour. They are not getting them from the Australian Cricket team, large sections of male professional sportsmen, most reality TV and most social media. They will get them from our partnership. Never let an opportunity go by where a beautiful behaviour goes unnoticed. Always look to catching your sons 'doing good'.

Can I wish you a peaceful 2 weeks with your sons and humbly ask that you actively seek out and acknowledge the acts of love, kindness, softness and consideration for others that all our boys are capable of and we wish all our future Gentlemen to possess. Thank you for all your goodwill and support!

Mr Domenic Burgio

CBC Fremantle Old Boys' Association - Alumni Recognition Awards 2018