A Leader’s Guide to Real Men: Urban Teens Write About How to Be a Man

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A Leader’s Guide to Real Men: Urban Teens Write About How to Be a Man
Youth Communication and Development without Limits
354 pages. also in Real Men Resource Kit with class set of 20 Real Men anthologies and one Alternative High DVD.

This comprehensive guide targets teachers, after-school staff, social workers and others using the Real Men curriculum with teens ages 13 to 19 who are coping with “the challenges posed” in the anthology’s stories.

The program presumes participants’ understanding of “issues confronting young men of color and poor or lower-middle class youth.” Lessons are “not intended” for “mostly white or affluent groups,” whose inexperience “could inadvertently reinforce stereotypes that this curriculum is designed to help change.” Its overview also explains how to choose stories and adapt activities to match the needs, skills and developmental readiness of groups as young as middle schoolers and as old as 18 to 24.

Young participants use the Real Men anthology as a text; each 60-minute lesson centers around one of its stories. After an opening icebreaker activity, class members take turns reading the story aloud in short, numbered sections. This oversized leader’s guide reprints each story with wide margins containing suggested discussion questions, connected by arrows to relevant passages. Leaders are advised to broach these questions as they appear, pausing for discussion. The group follows the reading with experiential activities that practice responses to similar situations.

For example, the session that examines “No More Hand-Holding” by Edgar Lopez, 17 – about Edgar’s effort to stop relying on adults to keep him on track with his studies – starts with an icebreaker in which pairs share songs, movies, people or books that inspired them to set a new goal. While reading, they discuss Edgar’s strategies that fail or succeed. Afterward, each participant charts his own educational goal on paper, drawing a road to success with obstacles, challenges and detours. The closing question is: “What has the biggest impact on your chances of success: How many obstacles you face, or how you deal with them? Why?”

Beyond lesson plans, the guide explains how its techniques reinforce youth development goals that make the curriculum work, from using positive peer pressure to respecting participants’ experience. Other tools include group handouts, instructions for exercises such as role playing, tips for leading groups and more.

This manual’s expert guidance allows both new and veteran group leaders to reach an underserved audience of struggling youth.

 (212) 279-0708 ext. 115, www.youthcomm.org.