Monday, January 21, 2008

The problem with boys

My husband sent me an article that I thought was rather fascinating. We have talked in the past about how boys and girls have different learning styles and how boys aren't allowed to be boys anymore. Seeing that I am not a man I don't always understand the need to be aggressive or maybe I should say, always physically active. There is such a huge difference between my daughter and two sons. Are we doing a severe injustice to our boys?

Anyway, please take a minute to read this little article and tell me what you think. I am interested to hear your thoughts.

The Problem With Boys


woman at the well said...

Overall, I have to agree with this fellow. About the only group that you can critize and get away with it is men, preferably white men. What he says about TV is absolutely true - I think the advertisers believe if they can separate the consumer kid from parental influence, particularly male influence, they can sell more.
You know I'm all about civilizing children, and would never advocate letting them run wild, but it is clear that boys and girls are significantly different in learning needs. I do believe the culture in general has sought to emasculate men, to the detriment of both men and women.
I also believe that children are drugged too often - there was an article in the New York Times several years ago with the headline "Whose attention deficit disorder?" with the notion the children are being drugged for the convenience of schools and parents.
I think much of the "jackass" behavior we see in young men has to do with men who have no rite of passage to adulthood; men who want to challenge themselve and don't know how, who have no role models for that.
Overall, I agree with this fellow's thoughts.

Tiffany said...

I have a book for you: Its called "Raising Caine" and its about raising boys in today's society, and gives ideas on how to help your sons understand their emotional selves. Let me know if you want to read it and I'll dig it out of my teacher boxes.

Scylla said...

I agree with the idea behind the article, though personally think the author is having some anger issues.

We certainly need to be attentive to the men in our culture, and their needs, though I don't agree that a feminine culture has no competition in it. Of course, I remember being a very competitive girl, so that may be why.

I think we need to do what we can to assist all our children in being the best they can be. (Without sending them to the army).

ellen said...

I can see why he'd be a little angry. It makes women angry to think we aren't being treated fairly.

I also just read an article about male doulas. They don't seem to be very welcome in our woman centered model of care. Isn't that sexist too? Hum. Have the tables turned a bit?

Scylla said...

I have a problem with this article because his attacks on women and minority centric education are going to turn more people off than they are going to make them listen. This bothers me because what he has to say is important.

To begin with, competition is not a strictly male trait. Women compete a great deal, and they do just fine at it. For example, a majority of law students in a majority of law schools are women now. Law school is widely considered to be one of the most brutally competitive arenas in education, yet women are reaping the rewards and kicking butt. The "cooperative learning" model is an example of our society's views of how women are. Like a cartoonist, educators have taken one aspect of femininity and stretched it way out of proportion.

Further, it's not the fault of women and minorities that there is no time in our school for recess or gym, that fault lies smack in the lap of No Child Left Behind. There is no study anywhere that says exercise is harmful to minorities and women. Send a letter to Bush, scream that the school system his act has built has systematically removed all remaining appropriate physical activity and is thereby stifling our boys growth.

The statistics are scary enough on their own. They need to be screamed from the rooftops until people begin to really listen to them.

They need to be screamed by men and women, majorities and minorities alike.

Our boy's futures are our future, just like our girl's futures are our futures. We really can't afford to ignore any of them.

This article would move more mountains, if he didn't spend so much time "cutting" the competition.

Susan said...

I think what he is trying to say is valid. But the angry way in which he says it makes it hard to listen and agree with his point. He is talking about how men are being discriminated against, but he consistently bashes women throughout the article. (But maybe that is the feminist women’s college grad in me peeking out as I read it.)

Are white males discriminated against? Yes. Ben had a client (a white male) interviewing for a college presidency position here. The client was one of 3 finalists; the others were a woman & black male. Ben's client was the only one with a doctorate and the only one with experience as a college president (both of which were required for the job supposedly) but he did not get the job. Was he discriminated against? Probably.

But are white males discriminated against more than women? More than any other race? In the grand scheme probably not.

This is the quote that turned me off "Males are primarily responsible for creating the cars we drive, the buildings we live in, the computers we use, and the medical discoveries that save our lives, yet if a Martian descended upon earth and watched TV, he’d conclude that men are disposable."

Are males seriously responsible for all of this? Maybe 50 years ago yes, but today, probably no. What he is implying is that women are lesser. So he himself is discriminating against women by that statement.

Do boys learn differently than girls? For most, probably yes. I’ve read a couple articles in the last few months that talked about how girls generally learn better in a single gender classroom. But boys learn better in a classroom with both genders.

I was a highly competitive student. And a relatively fast learner. So I thrived in the IB education I got. But my sister had a harder time with the competition & learned in a different manner so she did not do well in the IB program. Now I haven’t been in a classroom since I was a student so I have no idea what it is like today. But no school can teach every child in the manner that best suits him/her or at the pace in which we each learn.

Parents need to take the time & find what best suits each individual child. Give them what they need to thrive. Whether it be more competition, a faster pace, hands on learning, or lecturing. Parents have to take time to do this which is why so many children, especially boys, get drugged. It makes life easier, parents don’t have to put effort into focusing on their children. They can just force them to conform to what is currently the norm.

Are you personally doing a disservice to your children? No. You are involved in their education. You have Simon in Tae Kwon Do to allow him to be more physically active since he is lacking in that at school. He was lacking something, so you found a solution. And if any of your children were struggling in school, you would do what you need to help them.

ellen said...

Well said. :)

Mark Patro said...

I agree with most of this article, although being one of the confident boys from 20 years or so ago, I turned out gay before there were any gay role models in the media. I'm not sure what the writer is saying with, "more non-feminized male teachers" in the classroom. Is he saying feminized men should have no influence in our culture? I realize that most men need a strong male role model, but the few feminized boys also need a role model. He is absolutely right about one thing: WE shouldn't assume there is something wrong with the boys when it is actually the school system not the boys that need fixing. We indeed need both girls and boys to feel empowered but we also need gay boys and lesbian girls to feel that way too.