When I opened my Washington Post yesterday and read “Disappearing Act: Where Have All the Men Gone? No Place Good,” by family therapist Michael Gurian, I expected his analysis of the far higher percentage of girls over boys who do well in school and go to college would be the same old liberal same-old: a heap of blame on standarized tests, lack of school funding–or maybe globalization.
So I was surprised to read this critique of the current school system from Gurian:
“Beginning in very early grades, the sit-still, read-your-book, raise-your-hand-quietly, don’t-learn-by-doing-but-by-taking-notes classroom is a worse fit for more boys than it is for most girls. This was always the case, but we couldn’t see it 100 years ago. We didn’t have the comparative element of girls at par in classrooms. We taught a lot of our boys and girls separately. We educated children with greater emphasis on certain basic educational principles that kept alot of boys ‘in line’ — competitive learning was one.”
What? Same-sex education is a good thing? And old-fashioned basics? And–horror of horrors–competition, something on which boys thrive?
Then I read this:
“Boys have a lot of Huck Finn in them — they don’t, on average, learn as well as girls by sitting still, concentrating, multitasking, listening to words. For 20 years, I have been taking brain research into homes and classrooms to show teachers, parents and others how differently boys and girls learn. Once a person sees a PET or SPECT scan of a boy’s brain and a girl’s brain, showing the different ways these brains learn, they understand. As one teacher put it to me, “Wow, no wonder we’re having so many problems with boys.”
What?? The brains of boys and girls are differnt? Larry Summers, call your office!
Then came this:
“Lack of fathering and male role models take a heavy toll on boys, as does lack of attachment to many family members (whether grandparents, extended families, moms or dads). Our sons are becoming very lonely. And even more politically difficult to deal with: The boys-are-privileged-but-the-girls-are-shortchanged emphasis of the last 20 years (an emphasis that I, as a father of two daughters and an advocate of girls, have seen firsthand), has muddied the water for child development in general, pitting funding for girls against funding for boys.”
My word, a good word for fathers! And some not very nice words for the “Ophelia” wing of the feminist-victimology movement which insists that girls are programmed to lag in school even though all evidence is to the contrary.
“We want [boys] to shut up, calm down and become perfect intimate partners. It doesn’t matter too much who boys and men are — what matters is who we think they should be.”
Not very nice to the folks who advocate that if we only gave boys enough dolls to play with–and barred them from toy weapons and competitive sports–they’d get in touch with their feminine side.
And lastly, Gurion has nothing but good words for the parents and teachers who are fed up with the systematic short-changing of boys in school:
“These teachers and parents are part of a social movement — a boys’ movement that started, I think, about 10 years ago. It’s a movement that gets noticed for brief moments by the media (when Columbine happened, when Laura Bush talked about boys) and then goes underground again. It’s a movement very much powered by individual women — mainly mothers of sons — who say things to me like the e-mailers who wrote, ‘I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have a son struggling in school,’ or, ‘I thought having a boy would be like having a girl, but when my son was born, I had to rethink things.'”
The only problem: Try, just try to, say, set up an all-boys public school, go back to basics in the curriculum, or even set up a game of recess kickball to help the lads let off steam before arithmetic class. And see what happens to you when the education/civil liberties establishment catches wind of what you’re doing.