Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Bored of education or board of education: the contemporary American boy at school

The latest Newsweek cover story, the Boy Crisis, has created some ripples this week. The magazine's piece highlights what many see as disservices to boys that have emerged in recent years as the education establishment has concentrated on meeting more of the needs of girls, many of them long-neglected in the past.

National Review editor Rich Lowry leans heavily on the work of feminist apostate Christina Hoff Sommers who brought attention to the issue with her intriguing book, The War Against Boys. Like Sommers, Lowry believes those jumping on the "let's not forget about the boys" bandwagon will provide nothing but disservice if they seek to create yet another strand of victimhood:

A crisis always needs its own politically correct argot. A neurologist quoted in Newsweek takes a step toward establishing one here with his statement, "Very well-meaning people have created a biologically disrespectful model of education." Thus, the boy-in-crisis has a rallying cry, "Don't disrespect my biology!"

Spending a big chunk of my energy and time attempting to educate young boys and girls, I agree that we're not tapping the full potential of boys, but I reject the victimhood argument. The classroom culture is feminine overall, but I believe that has always been the case in the days of bureaucratized education. Why it is now resulting in more intellectual and behavioral failure by boys is certainly complex. Back in my day, most of us guys were in the bored of education group, but we managed to get through successfully and didn't get into too much trouble. The board of edcuation, not a group of civic-minded citizens, but a piece of wood, played a big role. However, we've burned that bridge. A stinging behind proved more effective if both Mom and Pop lived at home. Today too many boys grow up without a mother and father working together at home to deal with many troubles before they reach the schoolhouse door. Even with this problem, we can be more effective in educating boys. We must be more flexible, a tough task unless we're willing to seriously reaccess the way we dispense public education.


Anonymous Brent said...

I think you hit the nail on the head, Glenn. I don't care what the educational situation. A better family environment makes for a better education. In our business, I see about 60/40 boys vs. girls. I also see a lot of single parents or parents that lend little structure to their kids' lives.

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