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23 Jun 2006 - 00:48

The Girl Show

Sitting on my desk is a bright lime-green program for the Irvington Middle School Graduation ceremony, held last night in the Campus Theater.

Fifty-four awards were bestowed upon high-achieving students, by my count.

42 awards to girls.

11 awards to boys.

2 of the awards to boys were for Outstanding Achievement in Physical Education; one was for Outstanding Academic Effort and Improvement (this would be an award given to a student classified as having a learning or developmental disability).

It's always worse than you think.

the boy show (character ed)
the other boy show

USA Today report on 135:100 boys:girls ratio in college
sexism in Everyday Math
invisible boys
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)
Where the Boys Aren't

letter from Robert Lerner, former commissioner NCES
Tom Mortenson's research
The Boys Project board
for every 100 girls —

-- CatherineJohnson - 23 Jun 2006

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The War Against Boys.

I have heard more than one homeschool parent tell me that this bias against all things boy is what prompted them to homeschool.

-- NicksMama - 23 Jun 2006


I'm not even writing about the worst of it. People are telling me stories of things that have happened to their boys.....they're just pummeling these boys.

Any boy with any trace of hyperactivity, reactive temper, anything.

I'd be violating their privacy to write about it.

It's bad.

-- CatherineJohnson - 23 Jun 2006

Just today, it caught my eye that most of the middle school awards went to girls. So much so that I counted, but I forgot the exact count. Roughly 80 percent of the awards went to the girls and 20 percent went to the boys. The other thing that caught my eye was that most of the awards were not very clear, like best in English and best in Math. The awards were all fuzzy and I wondered who got to pick the winners.

-- SteveH - 23 Jun 2006

My primary school, while I and my brothers were there, would award prizes to Most Improved Student, but not the Best Student. Dad used to mutter about getting us to start off the year deliberately failing completely, and then drastically turn around. Of course at that age I didn't really understand what he was going on about.

I got prizes for bravery on the flying fox.

Then at high school until 6th form (age 16, second-to-last year of high school) the academic awards were called "General Excellence Awards", while of course the sports awards were clearly identified and given for top in the sport.

-- TracyW - 23 Jun 2006

I was blessed to be dual-enrolled in a public school that didn't believe in any of that fuzzy award stuff. They gave out Academic Excellence awards in various subjects. These were based solely on who had the highest grade in the class. Because of the difficulty of the courses, my AP Chem & Calculus teachers both gave awards to the 2 highest students, who were a boy and a girl in both cases.

My public elementary school only gave out awards for student of the month, Presidential Academic Fitness, and Presidential Physical Fitness. I think it was more common for girls to be student of the month.

-- AndyJoy - 23 Jun 2006

Steve - was this in your private school?

If so, you should call this to the administration's attention.

I'm seeing damage to boys here. Christopher's friends are all developing an "edge," and I don't mean that in a good way.

It's very distressing.

We have a Math League award, which I assume isn't incredibly fuzzy. 5 girls and 1 boy got the Math League award.

-- CatherineJohnson - 23 Jun 2006

What's the flying fox?

-- CatherineJohnson - 23 Jun 2006

"Steve - was this in your private school? "

No, but the private school had their share of fuzzy awards. The boy/girl split was not as dramatic, but most parents didn't have a clue what the awards were about.

-- SteveH - 23 Jun 2006

What's the flying fox?

There is a wire, stretched from a platform to close to the ground. Hanging off it is a metal thing, which can roll up and down the wire. You can either hang on to or sit on it, depending on the design. You climb up to the platform, hauling the metal thing along by a rope, jump onto the flying fox and let yourself go.

In the case I won the prize for bravery, it was a sit-on flying fox which the teacher was putting us on, and just after I'd started, I turned around and waved at him.

No teaching to mastery on how to conquer any fear of heights of course, so I had an unfair advantage.

-- TracyW - 24 Jun 2006

I think the US term for what you describe is "zip line".

-- DougSundseth - 25 Jun 2006