Skip to comments.Disparate impact: classrooms, comfortable places for girls, terrible places for boys
Posted on 01/06/2014 7:26:58 AM PST by xzins
American Enterprise Institute resident scholar Christina Hoff Sommers is best known for her notableand controversialbooks about feminism and American culture. A new and revised edition of her 2001 book, The War Against Boys: How Misguided Policies Are Harming Our Young Men, came out in August.
You wrote last year about your granddaughter receiving a toy train, placing it in a baby carriage, and covering it with a blanket so it could get some sleep. What does that tell you? That boys and girls are different. There are exceptions, but as a rule a little girls choice of play, at the earliest age, involves a lot of theatrical, imaginative, turn-taking games. As they get a little older, they love to exchange confidences with a best friend. Boys tend not to do this. The theatrical, imaginative games: not so much. Exchanging confidences with a best friend: havent seen it.
Boys prefer ... Rough-and-tumble play: a lot of running around, mock fighting, usually with sound effects, and the boys tend to be very happybut many parents and teachers have confused such play with violence. When children are violent, theres a lot of unhappiness and they part as enemies. Violent children are usually not popular. Its just the opposite with rough-and-tumble play: Children are happy and boys who are good at it will tend to be popular. Theyre building critical social skills.
What happens if we clamp down on that? In some cases little boys are suspended for their drawings, or for playing cops and robbers or imaginative superhero play. If the earliest experience a little boy has is disapproval, we threaten his social development and make him unhappy with school. This may be in part an explanation of why boys are so far behind in reading and writing.
What happened when Hasbro, the toy makers, hoped to market a doll playhouse and a toy baby carriage to both boys and girls? Hasbro brought in children to interact with this playhouse, which they hoped to market to both boys and girlsnot because they were egalitarian feminists, but because you double your profits if you come up with a toy that interests boys as much as girls. Girls came in, put the baby in the carriage, played with the toy stove and refrigerator. The boys catapulted the miniature baby carriage from the roof of the toy house.
Why cant some academics accept the obvious? On college campuses it is now an article of faith that we are all born to be bisexual. One feminist put it dramatically, saying, We are transformed into male- and female-gendered human beings, one to command, the other to obey.
If we understood these differences, how would schools be different than they are now? First, teachers would learn in teachers colleges what theyre not learning today, that girls are readier for school. A 5-year-old girl is a more mature being than a 5-year-old boy: It is very hard for him to sit still. Wed have two different styles of classrooms. A school superintendent once acknowledged that all our classrooms are very comfortable places for girls, with flowers and snowflakes. Theyre pretty. I told him, Maybe you should put in something boys likedangerous insects, or rockets. A lot of teachers are uncomfortable with that.
What would the school day look like? Lots of recess. Different classroom settings, not just one style that is sedentary, competition-free, and risk-averse.
Most of the students here at Patrick Henry College are from homeschooling backgrounds. How should the differences between boys and girls affect homeschool curricula? Its going to be easier to get your daughter to read: Shes probably more verbal and probably started talking earlier. Typically, boys have better visuals and are better at finding a way out of a maze. Girls are better at remembering everything they saw along the way. You may have a bookish boy whos quiet and automatically loves poetry and things, but chances are you will not. He feels like a caged animal and wants to get out. So, be aware of that and work with it.
Lets keep going on this: What difference would a better understanding have on high school? Oh boy. There are exceptions, but boys and girls, on average, find different sorts of books interesting. Airport bookstores dont have signs saying Mens magazines or Womens magazines, but we know theyre there. The womens magazines typically show faces and all sorts of human interest and fashion. The mens magazines are usually about stuff. Ninety percent of people who subscribe to Popular Mechanics are males.
High schools should accommodate Popular Mechanics people. Not everybody is going to college. Our colleges are 57 percent female, and 62 percent of masters degrees last year and the year before went to females. Women have surpassed men now even in getting Ph.Ds. To survive in the new economy you need education beyond high school, so we should keep up with the Europeans: Theyre offering in their high schools career and technical training.
Aviation High School in Queens, New York, is doing some things right. It has more than 2,000 kids in this gritty part of Queens. I thought, This cant be a high school because it looks like a factory. I went inside and thought I was in the wrong place because it was so quiet: These kids werent merely interested, they were enthralled. They have academics half the day, and they have to get through those classes to spend the other half of the day tinkering with an airplane thats parked out in the parking lot, or taking courses in aviation.
Overwhelmingly boys, I suspect. The schools 87 percent male. I met some girls there: Theyre fabulous, and they know theyre different. Many of the kids come from struggling, urban communities, mostly Hispanic, black, and Asian. It has one of the highest graduation and college matriculation rates. They move on to fantastic careers. This should be a model for other parts of the country, and its not just me saying this. At a recent Harvard University graduate school conference called Pathways to Prosperity, educational leaders from all over the world agreed that our high schools should be partly career training that offers pathways into good jobs.
But young men and women might have different job desires. The girls tend to go into early childhood education. Cosmetology is popular, as well as various medical professions. The boys are in welding, automotive repair, and computer technology disproportionately. Some womens groups in Washington consider it inequitable that not as many girls show up for welding and refrigeration and trucking. I try to introduce a little common sense. Yes, introduce the girls to these fields, because you will make more money if youre a metallurgist or an aviation mechanic than you will as an early childhood educator. Let the young women know that, but dont have a quota system.
I just read this on World a few minutes ago and think it’s a very good read.
This was a good line. We know the differences are all around us.
The (sane) mind boggles.
I think the equivalent in the corporate world in the company meeting. I’ve noticed that women (and girly men) thrive in meetings. Guys like me do whatever we can to avoid these sideshows, especially when they get to be more than about 3-5 people.
Before wireless laptops and smartphones, meetings were really annoying.
Then God gave us wonderful connectivity...
Purposeless meeting make me cringe. I'll take a planning meeting over a "how things are going" meeting 999 times out of a 1000.
My boys definitely enjoy rough and tumble playing around. When I was married my wife would always hate it, saying her brothers never did anything like that and blah blah blah... And now... she wants me to continue teaching them self defense and how to take somebody down as quickly and as hard as possible. What changed? I don’t know, maybe she woke up.
I worked for a small company in Japan which had a room with a high round table and enough space for about five people to stand around.
The rules were no smoking, no food and no drink. We were generally in and out of there in 15 minutes or less.
walk a little slower when you walk by me
stay a little longer with the lonely sea
when you shoot at bad men, shoot at me.
Take me to that strange,
enchanted land grown-ups seldom understand
And let me tell you, these sessions could get rough. I still have a bad back from three little girls piling on me and taking me down . . . but it was worth it.
I had a battalion commander in Korea who would call his staff meetings outside standing. They were more than 5 people — about a dozen — but they were lickety-split.
Especially in winter.
I recall some 5 minutes meetings outside in the winter. It was very easy to admit that what you’d say in a warm room wasn’t really all that necessary to say.
My son's played tackle football for 4 years and is in his 3rd year of Scouting. He alone is tough enough to keep up with, but life is infinitely far more enjoyable.
Years ago I worked in an outdoor job in Phoenix, Arizona. Meetings were inside in the air conditioning, and in the summer we learned to ask a lot of questions just to be able to enjoy a few more minutes out of the heat.
My grandsons play war with the neighbor kids. Their play is complete with walkie talkies, camo clothing, nerf guns, forts covered with real camo netting, etc. They work a continuing storyline that has progressed for over a year. I have warned them not to do any of this at school, where the teachers might not understand.
I hope my boys find girls like yours! I never had that when married and wish I did.
Lately I’ve been doing practice runs with the boys and at first they thought it was over the top. But after explaining certain situations and how fast things can happen, now when I say a certain key word they know where to go and what to do. When it hits the fan I told them no hesitation. You hesitate and you could cost all of us our lives. They get it now. My training has probably saved my life multiple times. Twice, at least and I hope it saves theirs someday as well.
My battalion commander was an SOB, but we loved him. He would have moved your Arizona meeting outside in the heat. And he would have looked for a place with no shade.
When I was a kid we had 2 recesses and a lunch recess if you finished eating fast enough. We played DODGEBALL and yes, some kids got smacked. But they learned how not to have that happen. We played gang tag. Four-square (with that ball) was not pattie-cake...it was a form of war with spikes, slams, spins.
And, yes, we did the dreaded soldiers, cops, robbers, cowboys. This was pre-show and tell, so I don’t remember carrying anything to school except my lunch or books.
We made up our own games, our own guns, our own fun.
I remember when the best sled was a refrigerator box.
After a year of listening to garbage at Historical Preservation group meetings...I announced that I would not be back, that they were dysfunctional and accomplished nothing and the commission should be abolished.
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