Skip to comments.When Boys Donít Read, Hereís What To Do
Posted on 04/07/2010 11:57:23 AM PDT by BruceDeitrickPrice
I like it when the New York Times agrees with me. Nicholas Kristofs recent column Boys have fallen behind (April 4) is an exact echo of my column on CanadaFreePress several weeks earlier (March 15).
My piece was titled Our Schools Are Skilled At Making Sure Boys Dont Read." Its longer, more aggressive, with more suggestions on how to deal with this very huge problem, namely, that boys dont read well or they dont read at all.
If boys not reading is an aspect of your life, please see this article. [Link at end.]
Now I want to mention the big difference between my article and the one in the Times. Kristof earnestly discusses several theories about why boys cant seem to keep up with girls. Its very helpful to discuss these theories, and as much as I like mocking the New York Times, Kristof deserves credit for that.
But Kristof doesnt mention the essential problem, which is that reading methods used in public schools are often ineffective and destructive. Specifically, the Education Establishment still pushes sight-words and Dolch words. All the phonics people say that the very process of memorizing these words will prevent the child from becoming a good reader. So you see the crime is being committed in plain sight.
Lets say a boy is 10 or 12 years old and he doesnt like to read. You dont actually know whether he is avoiding books as a matter of preference, or he is unable to use books as a matter of never having been properly taught. This is a HUGE distinction...
[SHORT ARTICLE CONCLUDES BELOW]
(Excerpt) Read more at edarticle.com ...
I can sum up this issue by saying the big reason boys can't read is not being taught properly, and then the bad results are glossed over. It happens, you know, that children can be in the fourth grade, unable to read, but taking home A's on their report card. For me, that's criminally irresponsible, and what we need to correct ASAP.
“You dont actually know whether he is avoiding books as a matter of preference, or he is unable to use books as a matter of never having been properly taught. This is a HUGE distinction”
That is a great point. I know lots of people who say they don’t like to read, but I don’t a know a single person who can read (and comprehend) quickly, who doesn’t like to read. The bulk of people who say they don’t enjoy reading simply do not have the skills to enjoy it.
If you want boys to like books, then use some boy books to teach them with, books about cowboys and indians and wars and heroes, books about building the nation’s trains and the use of riverboats, and the harvesting of fur and gold.
For some reason I am unable to access the article. The link will not deliver you to it. Do you have another one?
Never mind. Now I can see it. Weird.
Boys who don’t read have parents who don’t encourage reading.
Boys can’t read because they’re told by their teachers that girls are in control so “Sit down and shut the “f” up”. This prepares boys for the workplace where they’re quickly castrated and de-tongued as evil beings. Boys are slaves to their female slave masters who are owned by the Government who threatens to deny their children health care unless they do what they’re told. It’s a neat feudal lord kind of arrangement, whereby the Government ensures the threat of male resistance is neutralized.
“All the phonics people say that the very process of memorizing these words will prevent the child from becoming a good reader.”
a) Citing the opinion of a group that actively dislikes “sight-word” reading, and pushes a method that makes money for some of these people, as being scientifically valid is irresponsible.
b) Making an absolute statement like that (re the phrase “will prevent”) is a good way to utterly discredit any point you were trying to make, because if your premise is founded on that absolute, then *anything*, even a single example, that refutes the absolute statement then refutes the premise . Case in point: Me. I learned by sight-word reading, learned very early, and wildly outstripped my peers, many of whom were taught using phonics, in reading ability i.e. reading at a 5th-grade or so level in Kindergarten, and well beyond high-school level by 6th grade.
Now, if the article had pointed to a study by a neutral group that showed that sight-word reading methodology resulted in higher rates of illiteracy than phonics, it might be a different matter, but that’s not the case here.
Ping for later reading
And, before anyone claims that I might not remember things correctly, my mother was a teacher, and therefore knew exactly what kinds of methods were used for teaching reading, and has told me straight out that I learned using the sight-reading method, not phonics.
And yes, I am male.
“If you want boys to like books, then use some boy books to teach them with, books about cowboys and indians and wars and heroes, books about building the nations trains and the use of riverboats, and the harvesting of fur and gold.”
Thank you for stating this - our 6th grade son says he hates to read... but he has exceptions like the Bone series, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Geronimo Stilton, and some others (mostly comic book type) but he is not allowed to read them in school because they are comic books. So he only reads them at home. He also likes to read through his Sports Illustrated Kids. I thought it did not matter what they read as long as they were reading.
Some of the crap they give for reading and testing is absolutely horrible and very girl-centric with bizarre names that you spend half the time trying to figure out how to pronounce.
I hate to say it, but I fully agree with you.
My husband, who is a wonderful man, is not a great reader. He has three sons (previous marriage), and he has never encouraged them to read either—they are the “outdoor” types.
However, I homeschooled the youngest in 8th grade, and that required a lot of reading. We would sit down together every day, for several hours, and read the material together. Guess what... he became an avid reader—he loves it! He has a great imagination and much prefers reading over the movie version of a story any day!
Some kids (such as my daughter) are natural readers. Some kids take much more effort to develop the desire. But the desire is there, if enough effort is made to unlock it!
when did this change? all my guy friends read voraciously, none of my girlfriends do- alot of them have a hard time getting thru simple teens novels like ‘twilight.’
admittedly alot of the reading we do is stephen king and tolkien, and other sci-fi, fantasy and horror stuff, but we’ve also read rand, orwell, machivelli, tsu, verne, wilde, dickens.. and its gotta be a shock for “educated” boomers to walk into a bar and see a bunch of tattooed and pierced guys discussing classic novels.
I think subject matter is important. The types of material my 7 y.o. (boy) is interested in and those my 10 y.o. (girl) likes to read show some definite preferences.
I was a compulsive reader all my life, for a number of years I averaged about 500 books a year, I was a lousy student because no one can average a book and a half a day without doing a lot of that reading during classes.
I was stunned in school to learn that there were books that were boring and unreadable, and that the female English teachers were fascinated with them and wanted us all to read them and be graded solely on them. I love “War and Peace” and Dostoevsky, and even Barbara Tuchman, but all those Victorian females named Jane or whatever? I never managed to get through any of them, in fact I am almost dozing off now as I think about those English teachers and their “literature”.
I don’t have any research to back me up, but I have had several hundred boys during the past decade come into my classroom with a disgust for reading.
The author is absolutely correct. My reading list is filled with things like the Iliad and Odyssey, Dracula, UFO stories, Bigfoot tales... and once they get past the language, Macbeth is a favorite, especially that last page. My son is a perfect example. I started him out reading my old X-Men comics, starting with issue 171 and reading every night until we got to issue 305, then moving on to some other graphic novels, with a few print-only stories inbetween, as well as the Guiness Book of World Records, science magazines, and so forth. Now he reads his World of Warcraft comics and magazines and short stories and wants more.
In the meantime, his (female) teacher won’t let him read graphic novels because they’re “too gory.”
Favorite anecdote confirming what the author says: A freshman boy came up to me once and told me, “I’m really sick and tired of all those Amazon girl stories.”
Interestingly, the girls will read anything put in front of them, which they usually finish early, then pass notes talking smack about each other or write their names dozens of times with expansive flourishes across the paper (why, I have no idea - I’ve just seen it happen).
The subtext is clear, and it isn’t pretty. We just ignore our boys and their needs. That chicken will come home to roost someday, if it already hasn’t.
i’m a big fan of associating heard speech with written speech. don’t know if there’s any scientific basis for it, but turning on closed captioning while my girls are watching movies seems to have helped with their reading.
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