Friday, August 1, 2008

Boys Will Be Boys

This article pretty much confirms my limited experience raising children and highlights one of my biggest fears as the parent of sons.

For all the failings of the educational system over the past several decades to reach out to female students, it appears the ship has turned 180 degrees to the point that boys are being shut out.

I've been reading this research for a few years now... The lack of tactile experiences, the focus on test scores that requires endless sitting still in the classroom, the focus on teaching facts and figures at younger and younger ages while eliminating any experiences that teach the joy of learning, e.g. art, music, group activities.... These are all cited as central to the fact that more and more boys each year are diagnosed with ADD/ADHD when, in fact, they are just being boys.

We are trying to force kids to do things at ages four, five, and six, that their brains are not physically capable of doing. And it's worse on boys because their brains mature more slowly than those of girls.

And it's really easy to turn that all into a big joke, but ultimately, the joke is on us as a society. If we crush the self-esteem of a generation of little boys, tell them there is something wrong with them when they're simply being who and what they are, what kind of men will we produce.

I'm terrified of what this school year will bring.

But, I'm really glad there's research going on in this area and that others are noticing. I'm glad that a mainstream publication like Parenting is talking about it. I just wish it would trickle down to our educators. My fear is, however, that the ability to dose little boys with poison to the point that we zombify them and make things easier for our largely female teachers, is such a temptation that we will never recover.


Suz said...

As I've told parents a hundred times, your remedy is with Congress. Until we get beyond this ridiculous testing mentality a la NCLB, teachers have no choice but to teach this way. The threats that hang over the heads of districts, schools, and therefore teachers, if their test scores are not what they should be are ridiculous. The individual teacher in the classroom has no latitude to use his or her own judgment--everything down to the format of the lesson plans is dictated. It's very sad.

Anonymous said...

Oh, wow, Dawn, this is something so near to my heart. I've struggled with how to deal with Nathan's approach to school and how he is required to absolutely not be himself to the extent that beyond the social aspects of being with friends, he really, really hates school.

I could go on for hours about how the system is geared to the best behaved girls, how Administrators crush teachers with the need to "reach the test scores," how school boards feel pressure from voters, parents, businesses and real estate professionals to have "educational bragging rights."

Yes, boys are definitely being sacrificed for all these things. I'm right there with you in the worry for them as they grow into men.

Great post - I'm glad you raised this issue.

For me - the worst part is that I'm surrounded by parents who are so intimidated by a system that will punish you for raising objections or questioning authority that they won't fight back, won't organize. It's so very sad.

Dawn said...

The article impacted me in another dramatic way.

It made me realize how much I struggle with letting my boys be who they are while trying to teach them to operate within social norms.

Also, my personality is one that likes lots of quiet and calm in my environment and those things are rare in my household with two joyful, passionate, exuberant little boys. Yet, when I visit my friend with two girls, it's calmer, neater, not as loud, and I find myself trying to push my two toward something they're not meant to be.

I just want to find the balance between letting them be who they are and teaching them how to behave like civilized human beings instead of monkeys.

And yes! I want to organize, but have never done anything like that before so I don't even know where to begin.

I guess I should wait and see how this year plays out.

Dawn said...
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Dawn said...
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Jacque said...

I have a son with Autism and he was surely kicked out of a preschool that wanted him to sit at a table and do seat 3 years old!!! I now run a preschool where we use a hands on active learning approach. This method should be used for children through twelfth grade. I finally found a private school for him that uses Gardner's 7 theories of intelligence learning model where he thrived. Our family didn't thrive by paying the tuition however :( I agree that the NCLB act was a nice thought, but not adequately funded, thought out, or executed. We need smaller class sizes and active learning for the majority of children to be successful. We need schools that are not dumps that children can take pride in. (All of my children attend public schools, greatfully nice ones, but I have seen some in other districts that were just awful!) Why can some children go to terrific brand new schools with educated teachers and enough supplies for everyone, but ohter children go to run down schools where mediocrity is the norm and there are not enough supplies? We really must fix our educational system to meet the needs of all children, not just the ones who fit the 'sit in the seat and learn' mold. My 12 year old daughter said it best, after she was promoted to the gifted program where all of the learning was taught through an active, hands on approach..."Gee Mom, I think the other kids I left behind in the regular education program could have used this special teaching even more than me..." At 12 years old she realized it...why don't our elected officials? Thanks for letting me rant a bit on your blog!

Dawn said...


you are welcome. I appreciate your insight as the parent of a child with special needs. I had to fight to get my son into speech therapy for this fall because of all the red tape. When I was a kid, all it took was for the teacher or parent to say, "I think my kid needs speech," and it was done.

I think about private school, in particular, Waldorf schools, all the time. It's shame to have to choose between private school and college. You're right; what does it say about our society that we care so little for the education of our chldren. Shouldn't that be a priority above killing people in other countries? Or above paying for prisoners to get educated? Or for white collar criminals to lounge about soaking up tax dollars? Or for corporate bail outs? Or for farmers to raise crops that get destroyed? AAAAARRRRGGGHHHH!

Okay. Now I'm ranting.

I can't imagine having to navigate the system as you must. Bless your heart.

Your daughter sounds like a very bright little girl.

Thanks for coming by and commenting. I hope you'll visit again.

rennratt said...

It's not the educators that you should be worried about.

It's the administrations that they work for, and the standardized regulations that "everyone" has to deal with.

Throw in the fact that things like physical education, art, chorus, band and even recess are considered 'not necessary, and viola! You get ADHD, ADD and ODD for everyone!

It certainly can't "be" that everyone needs to get outside and move around.

I have an 'outside' kid, so I understand to an extent. Boys are wired differently than girls. I pray that rules change in their favor.

I've heard that 'Bringing up Boys' is a good resource. I've never read it - but my friends with boys love it.

Tana said...

'Bringing Up Boys' by Dr. James Dobson is an excellent book. I highly recommend it to any parent of boys. I also really love 'Wild at Heart' by John Eldridge. That one's really an eye opener about our boys AND their dads.