“Statistically speaking, boys now lag behind girls on every single academic measure; they also get in trouble and drop out of school much more frequently than girls. There are fewer boys in college than girls, and far more lost 20-something boys than 20-something girls.”
This article is a helpful intro on how our education system is failing our boys. In many ways normal boy behavior is considered at best an inconvenience, and at worst a disorder to be treated. This is important stuff, and if you would like to explore this more check out the book “Boys Adrift” by family practice MD and psychologist Leonard Sax.
You need to read this if you have little boys.
Our current system is not helping boys succeed, it is holding them back. And this in spite of the ongoing myth of oppressed girls in the academic environment.
Source: Why schools are failing our boys – The Washington Post
3 thoughts on “Why Schools Are Failing Our Boys”
Yes, the belief boys should be strong is creating very very different treatment of boys as early as one year of age with increasingly more aggressive and less supportive treatment for fear of coddling. In the past, there were more stable, knowledge-rich/middle class families, who were able to provide boys with relatively more stability, care, knowledge, and support. However today, there are fewer middle middle class families about to provide this care and even among those families there is more turmoil and also the ingrained belief boys should be strong, so they tool are beginning to fall behind their middle class, female peers.
This is how it works – Our abilities are “not genetically based” but are governed by environmental variables. 1. Our average stress is defined in a much more correct and better way as many maintained layers of past, present, future – experiences, circumstances, along with many (different) weights and values we develop over time, which create more layers of fear, anxiety, preparation for defense. More simply put it is made up of many layers of unresolved mental work, which interferes with and can add to our layers of average stress. Try to picture an upright rectangle representing our full mental energy. Then begin drawing in narrowly spaced horizontal lines to represent many layers of mental we are carrying with us. Some us are working with very low layers of unresolved mental work, while others are working with higher layers. This posed a big problem for boys, later men. As girls our support and protection creates far fewer layers of average stress on average. We are also given much more proper kind, caring, verbal interaction, and other supports from infancy onward.
The belief boys should be strong “allows increasingly” more aggressive treatment by parents, teachers, peers, and others as early as one year of age, designed to create more anger, fear, and tension, so they will be prepared to fight, defend, and be tough. This is coupled with “much less” kind, stable, (very little kind verbal interaction), and much less mental/emotional support, knowledge, and skills for fear of coddling. It is the more aggressive, less supportive treatment, which creates the toughness or extra maintained layers of average stress: anger, fear, preparation for defense, and anxiety. These layers remain in the mind and take away real mental energy from academics, so those boys will have to work two or three times as hard to receive the same mental reward for work expended.
This more aggressive, less supportive treatment creates more social/emotional distance/distrust of others – parents, teachers, peers, and others in society. It creates lags in social vocabulary, less knowledge of syntax and other communication we as girls are given on a more continuous basis. It creates higher average stress, which creates more activity for stress relief (not genetics but environmentally created). The higher average stress also creates higher muscle tension, which hurts handwriting: more pressure on the pencil and a much tighter grip, hurting handwriting and motivation to write (too much pressure tighter grip causing early fatigue).
The total effect including less care and support creates much more failure and a feeling of hopelessness, especially with our false genetic models firmly in place. Also to make it even tougher for boys is the granting of love and honor (feelings of self-worth) only on some condition of achievement, status, or image. This was designed to keep Male esteem and feelings of self-worth low to keep them striving and even be willing to give their lives in time of war for small measures of love and honor from society. Males not achieving in school or other areas are given more ridicule and discipline to make them try harder. Support is not given boys for fear of coddling. Many boys (as you would expect) thus falling behind in school then turn their attention to sports and video games to gleam small measures of love and honor not received in the classroom. This also acts as a psychological catharsis for much more “maintained anger, anxiety, and hurt” they accumulate from the more harsh treatment they experience over time. The belief boys should be strong and the false belief in genetics creates a blatant mental denial of the differential treatment, which is creating the lower academics, lower esteem, and other problems many boys are facing today. So strong is the belief boys should be strong there is an almost emotional cannibalism allowed upon boys and men who appear weak in some way by society: parents, teachers, others, even from many girls and women, especially in the media.
Note, this is not about showing feelings or openness from boys and men, it is about support, care, and respect for boys even when appearing weak in some way. Remember aggressive treatment is increased for any sign of weakness and the much wariness boys feel for parents and teachers who feel it necessary and more freely allowed to use more aggressiveness for any sign of weakness or vulnerability in boys, later men. This is condoned by many in society today.
As for reading, we need high social vocabulary, much social interaction – experience with sentence structure and “lower average stress” to perform and enjoy the abstract skill of reading: decoding, visualizing, organizing, reaching into their social vocabulary/knowledge of words to learn new words in print, and enjoy the process. Boys are deprived in these areas due to much less care, verbal interaction, and much more aggressive treatment. As for writing, we also need much social vocabulary to understand, plan, and to put words into print. We also need lower average stress to create more ease of writing. The higher average stress creates significant higher muscle tension, which then creates a much tighter grip and much more pressure on their pen or pencil. This creates both poor handwriting and early fatigue. This kills off their motivation to write, hence more two and three word sentences from boys with and less motivation to write.
I feel the shows of masculinity and misbehavior are pretty much copouts to both show separation from failure and also to generate small measures of love and honor from their peers. Their defensiveness from authority is really pretty straight forward, especially in lower socioeconomic areas where strength, power, and status hold very real currency in those areas. For those students it is not just misbehavior but a real tug of war or fight for minimum feelings of self-worth from a continual fight they feel outside the classroom as well as in.
The suicide epidemic is the result of Males being deprived sufficiently from essential feelings of self-worth and so being denied love and honor from others. The more aggressive, less supportive treatment boys are given from an early age is creating much more failure and hopelessness in school, preventing many boys, later men from competing in the information age thus losing the means to secure legally, income, status, and power to earn love and honor from society. This then creates many more instances of more aggressive, less respectful treatment, which slowly wears down their feelings of self-worth or desire to live right on to the point of suicide. I feel long before this point is reached, many many more boys and men are already escaping in various harmful ways with games and drug/alcohol abuse in an attempt to live despite the low feelings of self-worth they are feeling.
As girls we are treated much better and enjoy more hope and care from society. Since we as girls are given by differential treatment, much more continual, positive – mental, social/emotional support, verbal interaction and care from an early age onward, this creates quite the opposite outcome for girls when compared with boys. We enjoy much more care and support and care from society from infancy through adulthood and receive love and honor simply for being girls. This creates all of the good things. We enjoy lower average stress for more ease of learning. We enjoy much more freedom of expression from much protection that makes us look more unstable at times. Of course we can also use that same freedom of expression to give verbal, silent abuse, and hollow kindness/patronization to our Male peers with impunity knowing we are protected. We enjoy much lower muscle tension for more ease and ability in handwriting and motivation to write. We enjoy much more positive, trust/communication from parents, teachers, peers, and more support for perceived weaknesses. We are reaping a bonanza in the information age. The lower the socioeconomic bracket the much more amplified the differential treatment from infancy and more differentiated over time through adulthood. In lower socioeconomic environments, there is also a kind of more set in place, attention, support and care for Female children as a kind of love and affection catharsis for girls. Such kindness would “almost never be given to boys”. Now with girls and women taking over many areas of society, we are enjoying even more lavishing of love and honor from society, while the boys and men are now failing more so and are now given even more ridicule and abuse by society. Mind you, this is also now coming from many girls and women using our still protected freedoms of expression and more so with false feelings of superiority.
Thanks for interacting. I disagree and think Dr. Leonard Sax makes a good case that gender differences cannot be adequately explained the way that you are suggesting. I mentioned his book “Boys Adrift” in the original post. While there are certainly some bad cultural elements at work in this area, there is much more that is genetic and innate and cannot be explained by social pressures. Sax makes this point well by using a number of animal and primate studies. And I think undermines many of the points you are making. I believe that males are stronger and more aggressive by design. And that can be accounted for from an evolutionary or theological standpoint. Higher levels of testosterone have value. Our job is to train it for virtue so that aggression is not used for bad purposes. Thanks again for interacting.
That is the belief held by many; however, there are others who see the idea of testosterone in humans very differently as rising and falling according to competition. The differential treatment would then account for much higher testosterone levels in boys, later men due to more aggressive treatment from a young age that would then create more continuous fears, anxieties, preparations for defense, and the added part, only given love and honor only on condition of some continued achievement, status in society. This then also sets up much more need for more competition to keep receiving those essentials of love and honor from society. There is also the great continuum of more stability, less activity, higher academics for boys from higher socioeconomic brackets, Caucasian and minority, while there is more instability, more activity, less achievement for both Caucasian and minorities as we go down the socioeconomic ladder. Note even in the higher areas of socioeconomics the girls are doing better. In the lower areas, the girls are doing much much better. I feel we need to look at these obvious, environmental variables first, before we look at the supposed genetic variables. I feel the present present genetic models will offer boys, later men no hope in improving abilities over time in the information age.