Boys are falling behind….boys are in crisis…I have been hearing more about this lately- on blogs, television, op-ed pieces, and books. Sunday Morning on CBS ran a story on this last month. It featured a dean from Kenyon College explaining how she has trouble getting qualified male applicants for her school. She pointed out that college enrollment for men has been slipping for the last four decades. What is going on?
Schools Are a Factor
The argument is being made that schools have traditionally rewarded communication skills (verbal & written), those who can sit still longer and have self-control--things girls are better at. It would seem as class sizes grow it is harder physically for kids to have room to move around. Educational cuts in PE, the arts, and vocational classes could all be contributors too.
Learning is Not Cool
The take away I got from the dean was that males think “academic disengagement is more manly.”
It’s not cool to be smart.
It’s not cool to be engaged.
It’s not cool to do homework.
I remember my son’s middle school teacher saying at a conference how important is was to “not lose the boys”. I didn’t see this as a problem, but as the year went on, I began to understand what she meant as those middle school attitudes grew. This is more than a middle school phase though- what the trends show is more like a culture shift.
Loose the Swagger
Fellow Mom Congress delegate Melissa Taylor’s recent blog at Parenting.com highlights a book that goes more in depth on this topic—Swagger: 10 Urgent Rules for Raising Boys in an Era of Failing Schools, Mass Joblessness, and Thug Culture by Lisa Bloom. The title refers to the attitude that has been instilled in boys that they are “all that”. Men and boys in this country rate themselves higher in their actual abilities and intelligence levels than they really are….hence the swagger. The author says parents need to help boys see that hard work is the where self -esteem comes from. Swagger offers ten rules to follow to help us raise our sons from topics such as jobs, drugs, media literacy, respect, and college.
What Can Parents Do?
- Talk to your son’s teachers about the classroom environment and their needs
- Be a partner with your child’s teacher to set high expectations for learning
- Set expectations for homework, schoolwork and college
- Make reading a priority
- Build self-esteem through hard work and accomplishments
I think I will be adding Swagger to my summer reading list! Will you?
What do you think about boys’ attitudes towards education? What works for your child in the classroom or at home? I welcome your comments! Tweet, share, subscribe, or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org