by Dr Ray Swann

Truth and learning

One of the more meaningful lessons we can teach our boys is about truth and the importance of truth in our lives, as well as in learning.

In speaking with your son, invite him to consider a key moment in his life when he was perhaps not 100% honest, and also why being truthful matters (not only from a moral perspective, but also from a learning perspective).

The purpose is to talk to your son about how, if you don’t know your own truth, you are susceptible to the influence of others. If you don’t know what you stand for, what matters, what you believe in – your truth (and ultimately your purpose) – you can waver about in the prevailing wind. How, when you are not connected to your purpose, you can find yourself in situations and positions that are not aligned to your core values. Challenge your son with the idea that when people don’t know their own truth, bad things are permitted to happen.

In doing this, we may then ask: Why it is sometimes so hard to tell the truth? Why is the truth confusing, murky, fraught or hard to pin down? Why do we carry things around, hide them away and even sometimes rehearse other versions to tell people? I think the answer has to do with finding our voice, and like most things – practice. We need to get better at telling our ‘truth’.

As teachers, parents, older brothers and so on, we also need to help our boys find their truth and where they are coming from. We need to let them know that when you haven’t got a strong voice of truth ‘worked out’, you can make a few mistakes and need to have a re-go at things, which can be a bit rough.

Finally, then, when our boys do tell us something – perhaps a truth that may be a bit uncomfortable to hear – we need to be mindful to remain positive, so that they view it as a positive rather than a negative experience. Though it might be difficult to hear about what our boys are challenged by, we shouldn’t let this deter us from having open and tough conversations. Rather, I stress the importance of an honest and upfront conversation and the necessity to let our boys know that whilst we may not have all the answers, we are there to help them get through the situation.

Ultimately, finding and accepting their truth will give our boys the self-efficacy and courage to have difficult conversations with heightened emotions, depth and gravity.


 Brought to you by Brighton Grammar School

Dr Ray Swann is Deputy Headmaster/Head of Crowther at Brighton Grammar School, an all-boys school in Melbourne. His professional background includes consulting, research, lecturing and coaching. This article is about


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