Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Trouble With Boys by Peg Tyre

In The Trouble With Boys, the author Peg Tyre, researches current educational practices and reveals how recent changes often mean that our boys are not thriving in school. For years, school and education in general, were male domains, so much so that specific laws were written to insure that girls were given the same chances at a quality education. These laws have worked well, so well in fact that contrary to popular opinion, girls are now thriving and make up the majority of those on honor rolls, advanced placement classes, leadership roles in extracurricular activities and are the majority of those applying to colleges.

I found this book fascinating. Tyre talks about the educational history that led to this current problem. Societal changes such as unskilled jobs being outsourced overseas, have forced the education system to focus on reading, writing and math skills as those are the skillsets that are required in typical jobs in the United States these days. Unfortunately, this emphasis has led to techniques that tend to favor the innate abilities of girls and that often disparage the innate abilities of boys. Changes in schools such as reduced recess, emphasis on early writing and small-motor coordination, organizational skills and collaboration rather than competition, tend to showcase girls' abilities. Male characteristics such as kinetic movement, noisiness, and the willingness to take chances are less valued and often emphatically discouraged.

Tyre covers many topics. She talks about the rapid rise in ADHD diagnosis, with a 48% rise in cases between 2000 and 2005. Since true ADHD is a fairly rare neurological issue, the large rise in diagnosis makes many experts question who is doing the diagnosing and what are the criteria they use. The rise of "redshirting", keeping a child out of school for an extra year of maturation, is another rising phenomenon. The impact of reading choices in the classroom, and the effect of video gaming are both explored, as is the issue of one-sex schools or classes. She also covers several projects and trials that are attempting to reverse the poor performance of males, and reports on their effectiveness.

A final area I found interesting was the chapter that spelled out why this poor performance by so many boys is a reason for all of us to be concerned. If boys are turned off to education, it is unlikely that they will continue on to college, and more and more, college is the mealticket to a stable, finanically rewarding career. When boys aren't represented in college, girls will be less willing to get married to those men who are less educated and have less money-making potential. Already one in three women make more money than their husbands, and this is a significant change in our society that will have far-reaching effects that are as yet unknown. As a sidenote, when there are fewer male applicants to college, less qualified males tend to be selected over those women who are qualified, but whose selection would make an imbalance in the incoming class.

The research in the book seems quite well-done. I particularly liked that Tyre pointed out areas of disagreement as well as areas in which she agreed with various researchers. This book is highly recommended for all parents. It will be a valuable resource for parents of sons who are starting to have issues with their education, and a thought-provocating read for those who have daughters. This book is highly recommended.

1 comment:

Teddy Rose said...

Hey Sandie you won a audiobook on my blog. I sent you an email asking for your shipping information.