Hello Goddess (writes Brian),
I’ve just come across your site and I am intrigued and impressed. Having listened to a recording of yours on Keen, I know this is a mix of fantasy and reality but I’m going to pose a few serious questions/comments in the hope that you respond in earnest.
I became interested in the plight of boys’ education while reading a several page spread in a weekend newspaper back in 2000. It dealt with the educational symposium held in Seattle that year. The focus was on boys’ inability to compete with the girls intellectually. One solution proffered was to have boys enter school a year later than girls, which would help to offset their disadvantage of being less mature than their female classmates.
While I am sure it would be advantageous not to start students who are not yet physically or emotionally ready for school, a study has shown that holding back students, even at the start of schooling, will make them more likely to drop out before completing high school. The effect was attributed to the students being older than their peers. One could only guess whether holding back most or all boys would have that same effect.
Another issue might be how it was determined which students were allowed to start school and which were held off. Currently students who are of racial minorities or small for their age are disproportionally held back for this reason. Could we even trust schools to impartially make these decisions?
My feeling is that students who are not ready should not be forced to start school, where they will fail and then either be held back or labeled for intervention. But students who start late can easily catch up – all you have to do is put them in a class where they only teach them important stuff and eliminate all the crap. That should cut out about two thirds of the curriculum in the first couple of years. Any student should be able to catch up.
Another suggestion we read about more and more frequently is to segregate the classrooms by sex. I personally am opposed to this because some males, not many to be sure but some males will be able to learn alongside their female classmates and segregating them outright into an all male class will restrict their learning potential.
This is true. But I think a better reason why males should not be segregated is because doing so intensifies annoying alpha-dominance behaviors. Most of the studies that show that males (or females) do better when segregated have examined a few carefully chosen elite institutions. It’s the quality of education – class size, standards, teachers – that makes the difference in schools like this, not the gender mix of the students.
While I’m at it, I’d like to put in a plug toward ending educational experimenting and do a little reality check. There’s nothing wrong with a little experimentation, as far as I’m concerned. The problem is that programs are implemented based on untested “theories” – that are little more than wishful thinking. There is never any followup to see if the implementation has the intended effect.
Your approach seems to be the most pragmatic. You recognize that males require structure and discipline because we are too easily distracted. I wonder what your thoughts are regarding the males’ inferior multi-tasking abilities. All these reports concerning how women can manage multiple thoughts simultaneously while men can only manage one thought at a time. Do you think that may contribute to men losing sight of our priorities? Maybe that has something to do with us being drawn back to thoughts of sex every 8 seconds.
Everything I’ve read about this indicates it is one of the talents that females excel at because they are biologically responsible for raising children, regardless of current trends in family structure. Successful childrearing requires multi-tasking. Back when “successful” childrearing meant “survival”, multi-tasking genes of females were passed from one generation to the next in that way.
This has been less important for males. They often perform only one task at a time, which has made it possible for them to excel at that thing. Just remember that traditionally the man who was at the top of his field always had a woman behind him managing every detail of his life, so he could concentrate on his work.
I am also curious to know your approach regarding recalcitrant young females. You recognize that girls respond to intellectual stimulation whereas males need to be trained like animals. Does this mean that discipline should be meted out differently for girls and boys for the same infraction? Discussing her attitude might illicit the most positive response from a girl but a boy needs to be spanked or paddled (repeatedly?) before he is willing or capable of receiving instruction?
Do you want reality? There are some girls who respond well to structure. Unfortunately, many teachers consider that certain subjects are too hard for girls. Girls who get this message find they can get by with pity grades from teachers who have no idea they are even doing this. It starts a trip down the slippery slope. One thing leads to another, and you end up with a large number of students who have decided that anything academic is too hard or too boring to bother with.
Finally, I’m hoping you’re considering producing lessons for males on mp3.
It would be an interesting concept to think about in the future.
Thank you for taking the time to read this Goddess. I hope your site is one that will grow.