Why Don’t We Value Spacial Intelligence?

From Jonathan Wai in Psychology Today:

Over 90 years ago, Lewis Terman attempted to identify the brightest kids in California.  There were two young boys who took Terman’s test but who did not make the cutoff to be included in this study for geniuses.  These boys were William Shockley and Luis Alvarez, who both went on to study physics, earn PhDs, and win the Nobel Prize.  Why did they miss the cut?  One explanation is that the Stanford-Binet, the test Terman used, simply did not include a spatial test.

The whole article is here.

Is society telling boys something is wrong with them?

From “Boy Is Beautiful” in Psychology Today by Mark Sherman, Ph. D.

What was the picture? Was it a gun? A bomb? The scene of an explosion? No. It was an anatomically correct stick figure of a man. Yes, it was a man with a penis.

My son was very upset – not with my grandson, but with the school, for forcing my son to leave work in the middle of the day to pick up my grandson for what my son felt was an absurd reason. And my daughter-in-law also thought it was ridiculous, as did my wife, and my son’s in-laws, who are far more conservative than we are.

I think my son handled it beautifully. My grandson was upset to be sent home, and felt like there was something wrong with him.  And that is how kids feel; you have to be pretty grown up to feel that maybe it’s not you; that perhaps there is something wrong with “the system.”

The whole article is here.

The Primacy of Moderate Self-esteem

The Primacy of Moderate Self-esteem by Marty Nemko (This article first appeared in the commission newsletter, The Proposal)
Careers Tips for Boys’ Parents: Toward Moderate Self-Esteem

Part one of a four-part series that helps parents help set the stage for their boys’ career success. Some advice applies to girls.

    If a boy’s self-esteem is too low, he can’t envision a significant career goal let alone be motivated to do the work to achieve it. On the other hand, too-high self-esteem risks complacency or the unrealistic belief he could do anything—Not everyone has a realistic shot of becoming a doctor, lawyer, or astronaut. Self-esteem should be just high enough to engender the sense that, with effort, there’s a range of rewarding careers in which he could succeed.
Alas, it’s harder than in previous generations for boys to acquire even moderate self-esteem. When I started out as a career counselor 30 years ago, my male and female clients were equally confident in themselves. Today, my female clients are, on average, more confident.
That’s understandable. Disproportionately, today’s boys get messages that female is good, male is bad. For example, I just googled the terms “Girls Rock” and “Boys Rock.” There are 300% as many listings for “Girls Rock.” There even are books and posters that explicitly encourage girls to be violent against boys. For example, most books go out of print in a couple years but the book and poster, published by Workman, a major publisher, “Boys are Stupid. Throw Rocks at Them!” remains in print a decade after publication!  Even if the book were an attempt at humor, if it were “Girls are Stupid Throw Rocks at Them!,” a publisher would not even have agreed to publish it and if it did, groups would immediately demand it be pulled from the shelves.
Of course, books, posters, and tee-shirts in themselves won’t destroy a boy’s self-esteem. What increases the risk is a boy who is already vulnerable and then experiences a daily retinue of negative imagery and few male role models. Many boys already think they’re inferior. That mindset is unlikely to open them to a reasonable range of career opportunities. So parents might want to do one or more of the following:
Identify and frequently remind him of his strengths. Is he bold yet fair and only takes reasonable risks? Is he usually kind? Able to fix things?  Does he write well?  Stay alert for his latent as well as apparent strengths and point them out to your boy. Do it often.
Conversely, praising trivial accomplishments and excessively tolerating bad behavior leads to the aforementioned too-high self-esteem. Limit praise to legitimately praise-worthy behavior. Of course, do set limits and issue criticisms as appropriate, although corporal punishment  is a no-no. That teaches that an acceptable response to bad behavior is violence.
Keep on the lookout for boy-friendly teachers at your son’s school. Perhaps visit classrooms and ask parents of boys at your child’s school. 87 percent of elementary school teachers are women, among the highest percentage in the world, so you may not have a high-quality male teacher to vie for.
But female teachers vary in how well they treat boys: Do they allow for plenty of movement: Active boys have a harder time sitting all day than do many girls. They may prefer reading about insects and monsters more than do girls.  They may like plot-driven stories of adventure and heroism more than talky books about relationships between girls who are clearly superior to the male protagonist. Does the teacher accept a measure of “hyperactivity” or is she too quick to refer the child to the principal or to a physician for Ritalin
Encourage your child to pursue extracurricular activities that are respectful of boys’–especially your boy’s ways of being. Sure, for some boys, that’s sports  and rough-housing but if your boy is, for example, artistic or bookish, of course, respect that. After school, some boys would rather read a book, draw pictures, or yes, watch TV or play a video game. In moderation, there is nothing wrong with that. Indeed, recent research finds that video games yield a surprising array of learning and personal development gains.
It’s long been argued that role models portrayed on TV and in movies affect kids. So boys need to see positive role models in the media, especially since their teachers will overwhelmingly be female

So…. Show your boy books with positive male protagonists. PBS has assembled this list, “Best Books for Boys.” It offers many types of model boys, not just athletes, soldiers, etc. nor just hyper-feminized types.

Do remember that even as boys get beyond the traditional age when parents read aloud to kids, your 6 to 10 year old may still enjoy it, and it’s a good parent-child bonding experience.
Similarly, encourage your child to watch TV shows and movies that present positive boy and men protagonists, who demonstrate heroism, prudent risk-taking and drive, used to admirable ends. Alas, there is a dearth of recent such movies so I’ve had to dig into the archive. Fortunately, all are available on NetFlix, Amazon Instant Video, etc:  Back to the Future, Home Alone, Dead Poets Society, ET, Field of Dreams, The Black Stallion, The Great Escape, James and the Giant Peach, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Lion King, Rocky, Big, The Red Balloon, Rudy, and the first Harry Potter movie: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
Helping your child acquire reasonable but not excessive self-esteem lays the foundation for a thoughtful, fair-minded exploration of career options. How parents can facilitate that will be the subject of my next article, to appear in the next newsletter.

Marty Nemko is a career counselor and on the Coaltion for a White House Council on Boys and Men. His bio is in Wikipedia.

The Single Sex Classrooms Debate

The Single Sex Classrooms Debate by Michael Gurian (This article first appeared in the commission newsletter, The Proposal.)
When I began to develop nature-based theory more than 25 years ago, I did not know it would be used in all of the ways it has been.  I am proud of its application in our nation’s schools.  Our teachers are our heroes and they need all the tools they can get, especially to help struggling students.

Among my initial findings were the struggles both boys and girls experienced in schools and communities because the staff and parents were only learning about gender roles (which is indeed a very important topic) but not gender.  Gender, not gender roles, impacts every student’s learning curve.  My nature-based gender theory starts with gender brain science (the nature part of the human equation), then moves to nurture and culture; it gives teachers, parents and others a holistic way to create healthy social systems for both boys and girls.
Of course not everyone agrees with the gender lens.  The ACLU’s attack on single gender classrooms and schools is an example.  Utilizing “research” from a very small cadre of social thinkers that do not represent the ideas of most people in the field, they argue that differences between males and females are minimal, (i.e. the gender lens is unnecessary), and that allowing schools and parents to choose educational options is dangerous. These folks make their points by attacking schools, misquoting and misconstruing my work and the work of others in the field, and saying that they represent the gender science and the families of our era.
In an interesting twist to this ongoing debate, a recent New York Times story on single gender education included a number of schools the Gurian Institute has worked with. However, the paper chose not to report any of the information from the scientists I asked them to talk with, nor print any of the responses I and others gave them to the superficial and cherry-picked theory in ACLU lawsuits. They basically published the few people and superficial ideas that fit the ACLU ideology.
In order to understand this debate fully, I hope you’ll go deeper.  Please study the schools that are innovating with a gender lens, whether they are coed, single gender, Montessori, or other, and raise your voices in support of them.
We will leave a legacy of choice and educational excellence for all students no matter their zip code if we come together in support of options in education.
Michael Gurian is an internationally recognized author, family therapist, and child advocate. gurianinstitute.com
 
To subscribe to the commission bi-monthly newsletter, email WHC@whitehouseboysmen.org

“Young Voices” attends Brown and Black Forum (video)

“Young Voices” is a new program on TV/radio in which young men tell their stories of living through the boy crisis. They also attend events live in the field to listen and offer their voices. A few representatives attended the Democratic Brown and Black Forum in Iowa. Here are the three short videos from that event.

Live From The Field: Introduction

Bernie Sanders Campaign Representative Interview

Martin O’Malley Campaign Representatives Interview

Follow our YouTube channel for more content coming soon.

Work With Boys—Not Against Their Nature

Man playing catch with boyFrom Christina Hoff Sommers in the New York Times:

Rather than try to change the basic nature of boys, why not work with who they are? Consider the all-too-typical case of Justin, a Southern California boy who loved science fiction, pirates and battles. An alarmed teacher summoned his parents to school to discuss a picture the 8-year-old had drawn of a sword fight — which included several decapitated heads. Justin was a well-behaved, normal little boy, but the teacher expressed grave concern about Justin’s values. The boy’s father was astonished, not by his son’s drawing — typical boy stuff — but by the teachers lack of sympathy for his son’s imagination. If boys are constantly subject to disapproval for their interests and enthusiasms they are likely to become disengaged and lag further behind.

Full article is here.

Happier thoughts: Changing Perception of Fatherhood in Pop Culture, aka #DadsInAds

Recently the oafish dad characterization has changed. After the complaints to a Lowes paint commercial in 2014, advertising agencies changed how they potrayed dads, and the public encouraged it. This is an ongoing collection of positive dad commercials.

#RealStrength Dove Men+Care January 2015

“Dave” Vicks Nyquil January 2015

#HowToDad Cheerios December 2014

“To Be A Dad” Toyota January 2015

“Life Lesson’s” Uncle Ben’s August 2014

“The Value of Room to Run” True Value Hardware

#SwifferEffect Swiffer January 2015

“Dad & Andy” Whirlpool May 2015

A Man’s World but Not a Boy’s: Those supporting women should also encourage boys

boys experimenting with a sundialFrom Mark Sherman in Psychology Today:

What is someone like me to do? While I had a mother I loved and respected, and I have a wife I adore, my children and grandchildren – for whom, like every parent and grandparent, I want the best – all happen to be males, all seven of them: three grown sons and four young grandsons. What do I tell my sons? That they should encourage their sons to support the aspirations of girls, girls who are already surpassing them in school at all levels, and going on to graduate schools in larger numbers(link is external)?

Also, if there is any truth at all to evolutionary psychology, which tells us that women prefer mates who are achievers, what will it mean to Grant’s daughters and the daughters of others, when their pool of eligible men diminishes due to this still not well-known gender gap?

I cannot think of any time when a group that was stagnating in their achievements was being asked to support the aspirations of a group that is outdoing them.

Full article is here.

Thoughts on Men After Paris and Before the Second Democratic Debate

From Leslie Loftis at the PJ Tatler:

The decline of manliness is not a new observation. We have discouraged men from acting like men for decades now….now that the little danger, and the three-quarters of a century without a world war is questionable, or should be, did we defame manliness when we did not think we needed it, only to find it rare, now that we obviously do?…We have discouraged boys from becoming men. And now we will likely berate them for not defending us from terrorism today.

The article is here.

Family Structure and the Gender Gap

Following on an earlier post, the concerns about fatherless America 20 years ago, here is more recent data summarized by W. Bradford Wilcox in National Review:

On October 14, Princeton University and Brookings released a new issue of The Future of Children, focused on marriage and child well-being. After reviewing family research over the last decade, the issue’s big takeaway, co-authored by Princeton sociologist Sara McLanahan and Brookings economist Isabel Sawhill, was this: Whereas most scholars now agree that children raised by two biological parents in a stable marriage do better than children in other family forms across a wide range of outcomes, there is less consensus about why. Is it the quality of parenting? Is it the availability of additional resources (time and money)? Or is it just that married parents have different attributes than those who aren’t married? Thus a major theme we address in this issue is why marriage matters for child wellbeing. Although definitive answers to these questions continue to elude the research community, we’ve seen a growing appreciation of how these factors interact, and all of them appear to be involved. In other words, although scholars are not exactly sure why marriage matters for children, they know that marriage does matter for them….
Yesterday, the news was even worse for the family-structure denialists, after the New York Times highlighted a major new study from MIT economist David Autor and his colleagues showing that less-advantaged boys are floundering in school and society — and more so than their less-advantaged female peers — in part because, compared with more-advantaged boys, they are less likely to grow up in a married home with their father. In particular, compared with their sisters, less-advantaged boys “have a higher incidence of truancy and behavioral problems throughout elementary and middle school, exhibit higher rates of behavioral and cognitive disability, perform worse on standardized tests, are less likely to graduate high school, and are more likely to commit serious crimes as juveniles.”

The whole article is here.

A Disadvantaged Start Hurts Boys More Than Girls

From Claire Cain Miller in the New York Times:

Boys are falling behind. They graduate from high school and attend college at lower rates than girls and are more likely to get in trouble, which can hurt them when they enter the job market. This gender gap exists across the United States, but it is far bigger for poor people and for black people. As society becomes more unequal, it seems, it hurts boys more.

New research from social scientists offers one explanation: Boys are more sensitive than girls to disadvantage. Any disadvantage, like growing up in poverty, in a bad neighborhood or without a father, takes more of a toll on boys than on their sisters. That realization could be a starting point for educators, parents and policy makers who are trying to figure out how to help boys — particularly those from black, Latino and immigrant families.

The entire article is here.

Could Fathers Be the Key to Preventing Bullying?

From Could Fathers Be the Key to Preventing Bullying? by Anna Sutherland in Institute for Family Studies Blog 

But as the researchers note, many of the studies in this sphere focus on mothers rather than fathers; there is a “notable void in the literature” when it comes to fathers and bullying. And given what we know about how fathers influence kids’ behavior and social skills, that’s a major problem. For instance, a slew of studies underline that kids with absent fathers engage in more externalizing behaviors, meaning they are more aggressive and more apt to fight or break rules than kids whose fathers are present. Sara McLanahan, Laura Tach, and Daniel Schneider have shown that this difference is not just due to selection.

An Open Letter to Social Workers

dv

From Tom Golden at MenAreGood, “An Open Letter to Social Workers“, part 1:

In the 1980’s and 1990’s, when I worked as a psychotherapist with many traumatized men and women, it was clear that society’s focus was to help women suffering from emotional trauma. Matters became a lot more fuzzy where it concerned men’s pain. I found out very quickly that a man’s emotional pain was taboo. No one wants to hear it, people want to run away.

Honestly and compassionately addressing men’s pain usually triggers an instinctive fear that in doing so those men will no longer be available to provide and protect. They become, at least in our unconscious minds, a liability that we cannot afford.

It took me some time to understand that this fear created an empathy gap that is still rampant in the field. Even in what is supposed to be an enlightened field of work, we are operating on some level as though compassion for men will bring us to ruin. This detachment, indifference to and even hostility toward men’s pain and hardship will be made quite visible to you in the remainder of this article.

 

And part 2:

Our war dead are nearly all males. If that were any other group it would not be tolerated but since it is males, many in their teens, the response is silence. They are disposable. Our workplace deaths are 93% males. Child custody after divorce almost always means the virtual removal of one parent, more often the father. Rather than our courts seeking to restructure families through sensible plans of shared parenting, they opt for profitably ugly battles and persecution.

No one suffers more from this than the children of divorce. Fatherless children are clearly and negatively impacted by every psychosocial measure we can make of their lives. Truancy, delinquency, teen pregnancy, drug use, academic failure, violence and mental illness all skyrocket in homes where the father is largely absent.

Rather than point to the discrimination in courts and how it is ultimately damaging children, many, some social workers included, are generally more likely to sloganize the problem in terms of “deadbeat dads” and other shallow and misleading buzzwords.

 

Photo from Golden’s article, a playground mural illustrating the whimsy of violence against men.

Gender Gap Journalism

Gender Gap Journalism by Kay Hymowitz at the Institute for Family Studies blog:

The gender gap doesn’t bring out the best in journalists.  With important exceptions, articles on the subject are padded with overly broad statistics, cherry picked research, a myopic view of men and women as lone economic actors, over-credulous references to Sweden, and most insidious of all, an implicit, never-argued assumption that in a just world (i.e. Sweden) women and men would reveal almost exactly the same preferences.  A piece that appeared in Sunday’s New York Times Upshot section “The Motherhood Penalty and the Fatherhood Bonus” by Claire Cain Miller, is a fine example of the genre.

Let’s Reclaim the Glory of Being a ‘Maker’

From “Let’s Reclaim the Glory of Being a ‘Maker’” by Lori Sanders and Cameron Smith in The Federalist.

We’ve heard the story of declining wages over and over. We’ve repeatedly heard the political talking points about the threat of offshoring. We want our children to have better lives than we did.

But if parents want their children to enjoy successful, fulfilling lives, it may be time to broaden our vision of what that entails. It’s telling that, in today’s America, more parents would be likely to accept their five-year-old son’s declaration that he identifies as a girl than would accept their 18-year-old’s proclamation that he wants to be an underwater welder, even though the pay for that particular vocation ranges from $54,000 to well over $100,000.

To upend this narrative that has so many of us looking down our noses at some of the best emerging job opportunities, we need to shift our attitude about the fundamental purpose of education and redefine what success looks like. We need a cultural change of heart, which starts with parents. Not every boy needs to grow up to be a welder, but neither should every boy grow up to be a lawyer.

Don’t Sell Fathers Short

Fathers are as crucial to a child’s well being as a mother by Barbara Kay in the National Post.

It is true that fathers abandon or are exiled by family court from their children “all the time,” as Jon notes. But the fact that fatherlessness is common — moreover widely accepted as normal by certain ideologues and, by trickle-down effect, in certain cultural enclaves — makes it no less tragic a loss for every father-deprived child. About a third of American children live apart from their fathers, and in general, they are not doing well.

Girls without fathers are more likely to suffer low self-esteem, become pregnant or embrace promiscuity, while boys without fathers are at risk for a multiplicity of poor outcomes, notably school dropout, gang membership and imprisonment. In black communities, where the epidemic is most acute, fatherlessness is a far more serious obstacle to upward mobility than racism. 

The full article is here.

9 Signs We Have A Boy Crisis

From CollegeStats.org, number 8 of 9:

Boys are far more likely to be the victims of violent crime:

A fact that goes hand-in-hand with boys’ high rate of incarceration is that they are up to five times more likely to die by homicide (as in 2004) and up to seven times more likely to die in a gun-related death than girls. These are the boys who got out of juvenile detention or managed to never be sent there and who raised their risk factors through certain high-risk behaviors, as laid out by the Department of Health and Human Services. These include early aggressive behavior, drug and/or alcohol abuse, hanging out with other troubled kids, and poor academic performance; in other words, all issues that could be prevented at a young age through education or other responsible adult instruction.

The whole list is here.

Boy Trouble

An overview of what we call The Boy Crisis, Boy Trouble by Kay S. Hymowitz in City Journal, 2013: 

When I started following the research on child well-being about two decades ago, the focus was almost always girls’ problems—their low self-esteem, lax ambitions, eating disorders, and, most alarming, high rates of teen pregnancy. Now, though, with teen births down more than 50 percent from their 1991 peak and girls dominating classrooms and graduation ceremonies, boys and men are increasingly the ones under examination. Their high school grades and college attendance rates have remained stalled for decades. Among poor and working-class boys, the chances of climbing out of the low-end labor market—and of becoming reliable husbands and fathers—are looking worse and worse.

Let’s Not Take It Out on The Kids

From Mark Sherman in Psychology Today:

However, when the modern women’s movement began to turn its attention to girls – as in books like Failing at Fairness: How America’s Schools Cheat Girls(published in 1994) – they were already doing better than boys on many measures of educational achievement, including college enrollment(link is external). And this gender gap – favoring girls — has only widened in the more than two decades since.

But we don’t hear much about that, certainly not compared to how much we hear about the pay gap between men and women (which is more complex than the simple mantra of “77 cents for every dollar” would suggest). Or the “1-in-5” female college students who is sexually assaulted during her years on campus. But I’m not even arguing about that data here — though  good arguments have been made. I am simply saying that this does not imply that we should – as we have done since the early 1990s – take this concern out on half our children: our young sons.

When I say “take this out on,” I don’t mean that we necessarily treat boys badly. I mean that, relatively speaking, we simply ignore them and their needs, their relative lack of achievement, and who they are. Again, think of how often you hear or see something in the news about how women are being treated badly. (And much of this may be true.) But how about the fact that boys are not doing so well. How often do you hear about that?

The whole article is here.

Boys and Young Men: A New Cause

From the archives of Psychology TodayBoys and Young Men: A New Cause for Liberals by Mark Sherman in 2010.

Even today, when someone writes about the way boys are lagging behind girls, he or she often talks about it as if it just started happening.  For example, in a Times oped piece published on March 27 of [2010], Nicholas Kristof, who has written extensively on the problems of girls and women in developing countries, says: 

“Around the globe, it’s mostly girls who lack educational opportunities.  Even in the United States, many people still associate the educational “gender gap” with girls left behind in math. Yet these days, the opposite problem has snuck up on us:  In the United States and other western countries alike, it’s mostly boys who are faltering in school.  The latest surveys show that American girls on the average have roughly achieved parity with boys in math.  Meanwhile, girls are well ahead of boys in verbal skills, and they just seem to try harder.”

I must admit that when I read this, and saw the words “snuck up on us,” my immediate reaction was “Where have you been?”  For anyone who cared to look at the data – and for millions of parents of sons – the problem was already there close to two decades ago.

The entire article is here.