KTM User Pages
23 Jan 2006 - 23:25
update I almost forgot. Here's the link to the New Hampshire Commission on the Status of Men.
Karen A left links to two articles about boys and elementary school:
Do Teachers Dislike Boys? I have two boys and neither one has ever had a teacher who I thought disliked him, or who made him feel bad about being a boy. [ed.: we've had at least one teacher - a P.E. teacher - who specifically made boys feel bad about being boys, or at least tried to] However, I have come to believe that elementary school is a very female-centric environment, [ed.: I'll say] one that does not suit many young boys very well. My older son went all the way through elementary school without once having a male teacher, [ed.: ditto] and the younger one did not have a male teacher until fifth grade. Akira, my older son, was bored and frustrated by an endless parade of worksheets in the first grade, when he was having a hard time sitting at a desk and writing for long periods of time. I was also concerned about the common practice at his school of keeping kids in from recess if they had misbehaved in class. [ed.: ditto] My feeling is that an active young child who gets into trouble because he cannot sit still needs more time running around outside, not less. I have come to believe that schools need to do much more to adapt to the way boys learn. This belief has been bolstered by the stories of other parents, who tell me that they are being pushed to put their active young sons on Ritalin. "Being a boy is not a disease," one parent writes. [snip] My feelings about boys and learning have been influenced by the book Real Boys by William Pollack, Ph.D. Pollack is a clinical psychologist and the codirector of the Center for Men at McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School. [snip] Read Pollack's book, in particular the chapter "Schools: The Blackboard Jumble," for a detailed analysis of how he thinks public coed schools are failing boys. His most compelling arguments are simply numbers: Research shows that most of the students at the bottom of the class are boys, most of the students in remedial classes are boys, most of the students suspended are boys, fewer boys than girls go to college, and many more boys than girls have serious difficulties with reading and writing. "These statistics show that there are many more boys at the lowest rungs of the ladder of academic achievement than we had ever imagined or been led to believe," he writes. One answer, Pollack suggests, may be all-boys schools or all-boys classes within coed schools. It's an intriguing suggestion, one I've certainly never considered for my children. But it has proved to be the right answer for some.
My best friend, Cindy, sent her son to an all-boys' Catholic high school. She said she absolutely did not get it - it was a completely foreign culture to her - but 'those teachers loved those boys.' He's in great shape, while a number of the college-age boys in our circle aren't.
slacker boys I keep hearing the same story. Our friends' college-age girls are great. They're smart, confident, pulled-together, focused, etc. (With exceptions, of course.) But the boys worry me. They're not quite getting off the dime. One couple we talked to, while we were in L.A., said that their college-age son was probably going to have to drop out for awhile. He has a good therapist, so they're hoping the therapist will help him get on his feet. Another friend said her son wanted to have fun and spend money, but didn't want to get a job. Another told me a story about her cousin's family. The daughter is the usual family superstar: taking AP calculus, finishing high school, touring colleges, Bright Future Ahead, etc. The son, who is a couple of years older, 'isn't like that.' I'm hearing these stories too often — and I feel as if I'm watching this process unfold in some of the boys around me here. They start out bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. But by the time they reach 7th or 8th grade, they're not looking so good. The parents wonder where their bright little boy went, and the boys must wonder, too. Here's a narrative I've heard more than once: "He was one of those boys who loved math. When they'd be driving around in the car he'd make them give him math problems. Then he got to middle school and his grades weren't good. He was sloppy, he made careless errors. The school told his mom to sit with him when he does his homework, so she does. She enjoys it. But she says his bad grades are his own fault. He's sloppy." I've heard a variant of this more than once, about more than one boy. I suspect there are more than a few children in this category, if only because the 'Disappointment Narrative' fits so well with the other Master Narrative, which has to do with aggressive Irvington parents thinking their kids are geniuses when they're not. PAUSE: Let me say that NO Irvington teacher or administrator would say, flat-out, Irvington parents are aggressive people who think their kids are geniuses when they're not. Instead, this feeling is simply there, present in many, many exchanges. I can't tell you how many times I've been told, by people at all levels of the district — and by other parents — that 'pushy parents' got their kids into Phase 4 when they didn't belong. It's a shared narrative. Last but not least: I have no idea how often girls are the subject of these narratives. The Pushy Parents In Phase 4 meme could be an equal opportunity storyline for all I know. Still, I get the feeling that girls don't get as much grief for being girls as boys do.
what goes unsaid What goes unsaid is that this isn't just about boys being hyper and girls being able to sit still. There's a political problem. From Day One, elementary schools stress the existence of oppressed groups, and tell their sad stories. Always, the oppressors are white men. Always, always, always. OK, the oppressors are white men. I don't have a problem with that! My problem is: there's no reason in the world for a 7-year old to feel that he is personally resonsible for slaughtering native populations around the world. Each and every year, there's a women's history month & a black history month. These Months are faithfully observed and celebrated in the schools. There's no longer a Take Our Daughter to Work Day, because somebody sued, but apparently its official replacement — Take Our Sons and Daughters To Work — is just as bad. (I can't remember if Irvington does TOS&DTW or not, but if so there's zero propaganda involved. A serious Plus in the Irvington column.) When he was little, every time women's history month rolled around Christopher would ask me why there wasn't 'men's history?' To him, it only seemed fair that there should be a history month for his group, too. When black history month rolled around, he'd ask me why there wasn't white history. Exactly how verboten is that question? ANSWER: VERY VERBOTEN. So there I'd be, trying to make him understand that he could not under any circumstances suggest a White History Month at school, and I'd be trying to do this without making him feel he'd just said something shameful and repellant. For his part, Ed would explain, reasonably, that historians didn't used to write about women & blacks very much, so women's history month and black history month existed for that reason only. Ed would also tell him he didn't believe in women's history month & black history month. That was the right thing to say, but it added fuel to the fire. If his dad didn't think there should be women's history month and black history month, and his dad was a historian, then why did they have women's history month and black history month? Then Christopher would want to know, constantly, how come on TV the boys were always the stupid, weak ones who lost. I'm serious about this. On Nickelodeon, according to Christopher, the girl characters are not only smarter, they're physically stronger. When they play football with the boys, or fight with the boys, they win. A friend's son, in 6th grade, asked her this: How come 'feminist' means 'hates men' and it's good, but 'misogynist' means 'hates women' and it's bad? They are a liberal Democratic family, and this boy has heard nothing but good things about feminism. I assume his mother considers herself a feminist. Yet her son believes that 'feminist' means 'hates men.' (She doesn't hate or dislike men, and has certainly never said such a thing to her son.) Then there's the 'feminization' of content at school. While technically we don't have book banning in the U.S., you don't see a lot of kids reading The Matchlock Gun. (Which is a FANTASTIC novel, btw. Riveting.)
Lionel Tiger on male original sin
Meanwhile, the publicly financed educational system is at least 20% better at producing successful female students than male, yet hardly anyone sees this as remarkable gender discrimination. While there is a vigorous national program to equalize male and female rates of success in science and math, there is not a shred of equivalent attention to the far more central practical impact of the sharp deficit males face in reading and writing.
Here he is at the Independent Women's Forum
We've been through the First World Sex War. For about 40 years there has been a genuine war between men and women ideologically and symbolically. And males have been defined as having "male original sin." For any problem that exists, it's the male's fault. The males are the principle movers of behaviors that are seen as opposed to the interests of females.
This is true. How do I know it's true? I know it's true, because I used to be in the war. Then I came to my senses & quit. From there it was a short step to wondering what it meant that it was OK to say terrible things about men — all men — in polite company. That's when I wrote my magazine article about boys and elementary schools.
do textbooks hurt boys? does school? This list of prohibited 'positive stereotypes' gives me the chills every time I read it:
Banned Words, Images, and Topics: A Glossary that Runs from the Offensive to the Trivial
this is fun
From what this interviewer has gathered, Dr. Tiger is not your average academic. Throughout his career he has stood for his convictions and not embraced whatever pseudo-scholarly fads happened to come along. He tells the story of his academic travails in the engaging essay, “My Life in the Human Nature Wars,”  which, unfortunately, is not available online. I also encourage our readers to examine Dr. Tiger’s 1999 interview/debate with uberfeminist Barbara Ehrenreich. To say he holds up his own end is an understatement as (in my biased view) he bests her throughout. This is by far my favorite part of their exchange: EHRENREICH: You certainly got away from the issue of how you feel about it. See, I'm willing to say how I feel. TIGER: I'm wholly uninterested in your feelings. How many times in life does one yearn to make such a statement? source:
VEERING OFF ON A TANGENT: That reminds me of the time Ed and I became whistleblowers at a school our autistic kids were attending. (MEMO to ktm readers: NEVER become a whistleblower.) In the middle of a parent meeting, as Ed was making a point, the leader of the Enemy Dads shouted, "Shut the f*** up!" Later on I was telling a friend of ours about this & I said, 'Shut the f*** up! How often do you hear that at a parent meeting?' Our friend said, 'Never.' Then he said, 'You think it all the time.' That cracked me up. Even though I personally never, ever, think STFU at parent meetings, or any other meetings.
do teachers dislike boys? I think teachers like boys just fine. Some teachers like boys very much. Probably many teachers find boys more taxing than girls. I'm in that category, and I love boys. There's no question: BOYS ARE ROWDY. More rowdy than girls. Once again, teachers are the face of the problem.......so the issue gets formulated in terms of teachers. The problem isn't teachers, it's institutional structures. The Sitting Still requirements, the Women's History month, the Personal Writing assignments, the journaling, the ban on all forms of violent play including pretend violent play, the being graded-on-handing-homework-in-on-time, the being graded on neatness, the being graded on attractive-artwork-on-the-cover-of-your-report, the chronic Character Education....it's the Whole Package.
is middle school the place where boys stall out? This is what's worrying me. Apparently it's universally known amongst educators that boys do worse in middle school than girls, but then 'catch up' in high school. What concerns me is that middle school is just as female-dominated an environment as elementary school, but all of a sudden, in middle school, they lower the boom. They 'get tough.' They give grades, and they 'raise expectations.' The problem is, who's doing all the getting tough and lowering the boom and raising of expectations? Women. I've only heard of one — maybe 2 — male teachers in our middle school. oh, and the P.E. teacher. There are 2 P.E. teachers, and one is a guy. Thank God the principal's a man.
equal time! That reminds me. Christopher went to his second dance Friday night. Ed ran into Scott (the principal) when he went to pick him up, and they got to talking about middle school & middle schoolers. Scott said that, socially, the middle school years are even harder on the girls than on the boys. Several girls had run off crying to the bathroom that night alone. The boys seem to have got through unscathed. Christopher's evening was eventful, but he's getting old enough that he'd be mortified if I wrote about it on the web. He's already mortified that I've said he screams and yells about math....but he's got bigger fish to fry these days, so he's not worrying about his mom's math confessions.
You can buy the Boys Are Stupid book here. There's a Boys Are Stupid personal journal, too. The Amazon readers are none too happy. I love Amazon.
USA Today report on 135:100 boys:girls ratio in college
sexism in Everyday Math
boy trouble (New Republic on boys)
slacker boys, middle school, & forbidden positive images of boys in textbooks
throw rocks at them
please remain seated at all times
Ann Althouse thread sums up classroom change
cooperative vs. competitive learning
the girl show (8th grade graduation awards)
the boy show (character ed)
the other boy show
Where the Boys Aren't
letter from Robert Lerner, former commissioner NCES
Tom Mortenson's research
The Boys Project board
for every 100 girls —
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The Inequality Taboo:
Why should the difference be so much greater at the extremes than at the mean? Part of the answer is that men consistently exhibit higher variance than women on all sorts of characteristics, including visuospatial abilities, meaning that there are proportionally more men than women at both ends of the bell curve.-- GoogleMaster - 23 Jan 2006
Back to Jack's K-8 Catholic school. Another thing we liked is that several of the upper grade teachers are male. There are still more female that male teachers, but there is a male presence in the school, and especially in the upper grades. I was not happy however, to see the Columbus Day essays of one of the grades (maybe second). Every one of them was of the "Columbus was a bad man who killed a lot of Indians" variety. But history, and economics are particular interests of mine, so if we only have to supplement those subjects it doesn’t seem too bad. Easier (for me) than math. -- BenCalvin - 23 Jan 2006
Another thing we liked is that several of the upper grade teachers are male. I've come to think that's SO important......in large part because of a young man we know who was raised by his mother. Unfortunately, I think it would be a violation of his privacy to write about it. But having spent quite a bit of time with him, the 'fatherless boy' part of him just leaps out at me. I'm assuming there's a 'softer' version of this happening in schools. When ALL of the authority figures are women, at the very moment boys are separating from their moms, becoming independent, etc. — it just can't possibly be good. -- CatherineJohnson - 23 Jan 2006
Google Master there are proportionally more men than women at both ends of the bell curve I'm not sure what you're referring to, but that's not quite the issue here. Tiger & others are talking about a shifting of the entire curve 'downward.' It's not just that there are lots more autistic boys than autistic girls. It's that we see huge numbers of boys doing worse than girls. -- CatherineJohnson - 23 Jan 2006
What's more, we don't see a difference in IQ. So we've got boys & girls with identical IQs & identical SES &, in the case of siblings, identical parents.....and the girls are soaring while the boys are floundering. -- CatherineJohnson - 23 Jan 2006
I was not happy however, to see the Columbus Day essays of one of the grades (maybe second). Every one of them was of the "Columbus was a bad man who killed a lot of Indians" variety. I'm strongly opposed to this. It's developmentally inappropriate. When Ed worked on the CA history/social science standards, this was an issue they spent a lot of time talking about and figuring out. Everyone agreed that the 'bad news' about America didn't belong in the earliest grades. -- CatherineJohnson - 23 Jan 2006
Ben You're in LA, right? If we were there, we'd almost certainly be in Catholic schools — I've practically got Ed convinced at this point. My friend Cindy's kids have turned out FANTASTIC. Cindy's the friend whose daughter, Alex, just got accepted to Yale early decision. She went to......hmm. It's a Catholic girls' high school in Pasadena. I'm forgetting the name, but I'm sure you'd know it. Ryan, her son, went to the Catholic boys high school in downtown L.A. (Loyola?) -- CatherineJohnson - 23 Jan 2006
They've both had terrific educations. -- CatherineJohnson - 23 Jan 2006
When Ed worked on the CA history/social science standards, this was an issue they spent a lot of time talking about and figuring out. Everyone agreed that the 'bad news' about America didn't belong in the earliest grades. Catherine, do you know of any research regarding this? I hadn't thought of opposing this in the school, (subversion is just a more natural response for me) but you raise a good point about the "age appropriate" issue. -- BenCalvin - 23 Jan 2006
I grew up Pasadena, but I live in San Francisco now. -- BenCalvin - 23 Jan 2006
Tiger & others are talking about a shifting of the entire curve 'downward.' Not sure about the lower half of the curve, but it doesn't appear to be the case at the upper end:
For the class of 2005, the average SAT math scores continued their strong upward trend increasing from 518 in 2004 to 520 this year, 14 points above 10 years ago and an all-time high. Math scores for 2005 among females rose by 3 points over last year to 504 while male scores rose by 1 point to 538 over the same time period. Average verbal scores, increasing only fractionally, remained at 508, for no change compared to last year. Even though there was no change overall, women's verbal scores rose by 1 point to 505 and men's scores also rose by 1 point to 513. The actual increase in verbal scores for both women and men was less than a full score point, but due to rounding their scores increased 1 point each.from an August 2005 College Board press release -- KDeRosa - 23 Jan 2006
It's a Catholic girls' high school in Pasadena. I'm forgetting the name, but I'm sure you'd know it. I think that's where I saw Van Halen play a high school dance in the early 1970s. Can't remember the name of the school now. -- BenCalvin - 23 Jan 2006
This most likely has to do with the fatter tail of male IQ at the extremes of the curve. -- KDeRosa - 23 Jan 2006
-- CatherineJohnson - 23 Jan 2006
Ben Catherine, do you know of any research regarding this? I hadn't thought of opposing this in the school, (subversion is just a more natural response for me) but you raise a good point about the "age appropriate" issue. I'll ask Ed. This was actively debated & discussed, and my sense from him was that there was consensus that 'Bad Columbus' does not belong in early grades. And this was amongst left-liberal historians. You really have to 'get Freudian' with this stuff......there's a reason why George Washington is called 'the father of our country,' and there's a reason why grown-ups keep their problems to themselves. Little kids need to think their parents are good and strong; they need to think the same thing about their country IMO. It's called TRANSFERENCE. Later on.....and unfortunately I still don't know much about normal development.....anyways, later on there's a point at which children naturally are able to learn 'bad things' about their country and probably 'need' to start learning 'bad things,' by which I mean they're ready to develop a more complex & critical view of reality & history..... -- CatherineJohnson - 23 Jan 2006
You could get pretty far just using buzzwords like 'developmentally inappropriate.' Here's something I remember from way back when. I was working with a psychiatrist in the Valley (I used to interview her a lot), who told me she was seeing all kinds of freaked-out 4 year olds. They'd come in her office, and they'd be really anxious. And she'd say, 'What are you worried about.' They'd say, 'I'm worried when I grow up I might take drugs.' The parents & schools were giving these kids all kinds of anti-drug propaganda, and it was developmentally inappropriate. She said that, at that point, kids were still doing 'magical thinking' (I believe that was it); they didn't have a strong separation between their own thoughts and reality. So if you told them all about drugs, and all about how dangerous it would be if they took drugs, that turned into I'M GOING TO TAKE DRUGS.....they didn't see drugs and themselves and the warnings as 3 separate things. Something like that.... I think it's AWFUL to debunk heroes before children are ready. Terrible. -- CatherineJohnson - 23 Jan 2006