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.

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.

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.

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.