Motivating black males to learn


If black males are to succeed in school, their parents must push them academically, develop relationships with their teachers and surround them with people with positive values, according to an Atlanta-based education consultant.

Mychal Wynn, an education consultant for the past 22 years and author of 16 books, including Empowering African-American Males to Succeed, said parents should focus on college and push their children to the "breaking point" when it comes to schoolwork.

His presentation to about 100 people Monday night at Wild Lake High School was sponsored by Wilde Lake High and its feeder schools: Harper's Choice and Wilde Lake middle schools and Swansfield, Running Brook, Bryant Woods and Longfellow elementary schools.

"[Children] may reject, reject, reject and try to play on your sympathy, but you can't give up," Wynn told the audience. "Boys who have a tough academic schedule and play a sport or have a talent are almost assured a free ride to college."

Wynn noted his son, who is bound for college.

He said that when his son was in 10th grade, he brought home his class schedule, which consisted of algebra II, world history, physical science and recreational games .

But Wynn thought his son could handle a more rigorous schedule, so he met with the principal and changed his classes to honors algebra II, honors literature, honors Spanish and 3-D design.

"He's now helping to tutor kids on his football team," Wynn said.

He added that parents should encourage their children to attend college to ensure that they have a high probability of finding a job. Wynn said the unemployment rate among black males who do not have a high school diploma is 30 percent, but 6 percent for those with a bachelor's degree.

He said parents should limit their sons' TV-watching and video-game-playing to help them accomplish their goals.

"At my home, there's no TV Sunday through Thursday," he said. "And they have to read two hours in order to play one hour of video games."

According to Wynn, 8.4 percent of black males are enrolled in gifted-and-talented programs.

"People just don't look for it," he said.

Another obstacle is getting black males to participate in such programs.

"Many of them don't want to be in gifted-and-talented programs because they separate them from their friends," he added.

Wynn said his son had told him once that he could not handle his gifted-and-talented classes and play football because the combination created too much stress.

"I told him, 'I guess you have to give up football,' " said Wynn, who added that his son found a way to do both.

Wynn also said it is important for parents to develop relationships with teachers and principals to help their children thrive in school.

"Parents have to get into the schools," he said. "We need stronger relationships with the schools to deal with peer pressure."

Making sure a child is surrounded by the right people is also key, Wynn added.

"We have to develop a web of protection. ... [That is] people who share your same values. It may be a pastor, a coach," he said. "When you have a web of protection, the music and the videos and the current culture don't move in."

Lolanda Lipscomb, who attended the session with her sons, Vincent, 16, and Brandon, 12, said Wynn offered great insight into helping black males excel in school.

"There should be more of these [presentations] throughout the school year," Lipscomb said.

Brandon said he learned that "black people should try harder to get better grades and show that black people deserve to be in the higher academic classes."

Daneace Jeffery, a Howard High School teacher and her son, Jarret, a University of Maryland student, said they also enjoyed Wynn's presentation.

"I was always pushing him, and I'm still pushing him," said Daneace about her son.

She said her family has a tradition of reading together and completing book reports.

Jarret, who has a double major in sociology and psychology, said he works hard in school, in part, to make his family proud.

"I want to be the first to get a doctorate in my family," he said.

Information on Mychal Wynn:

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