The challenge of teaching and raising boys is the topic of The Trouble With Boys
written by Newsweek
journalist Peg Tyre.
Educators have long acknowledged that boys and girls learn differently in school. But those differences alone can't account for the startling statistics:
- Boys get expelled from preschool at nearly five times the rate of girls.
- Boys are medicated for attention-related disorders at twice the rate of girls.
- Since 1992, girls have been taking more science and math courses and doing better in them than boys.
- The suicide rate for boys aged 5 to 14 is three times higher than the suicide rate for girls; between the ages of 15 to 19, it's four times greater.
In her book, Peg Tyre reviews the sorry stories behind the statistics. Her underlying premise is that since the mid-1980's, schools have become much more structured and focused and with less time for play and creativity. In addition, concerns about crime and safety have created less free play in parks, sandlots and other neighborhood venues. Because boys tend to learn more from play and experience, their learning has suffered by losing these components of learning. The current classroom focus has catered better to the learning styles of girls than boys.
The Trouble With Boys is billed as a "report card on our sons," and that it is. But it also exposes the educational status-quo as a system which has not served young men well. Tyre explores a variety of studies and efforts at correcting the imbalance in academic success between boys and girls, and examines models such as single-sex schools in helping restore equity.
With a nod to Tyre's journalistic skills, the book reads more like an extended Newsweek
article than it does a book. As a parent, I appreciated the research and diagnosis on the problems boys experience in our educational system, but I found the book a little short on specific recommendations. Other than spending more time at home helping boys develop a foundation for learning and skills for making the most of their education, there were few recommendations for parents, and even fewer for the educational establishment. Simply putting the issue before teachers doesn't seem enough to me; I would have appreciated more specific recommendations and actions targeted at making the system work for our sons.
I strongly recommend The Trouble With Boys
as a must-read for any father with children in the school system. It will open your eyes to the challenges our boys face and will help inspire you to greater involvement in the educational life of your son. And perhaps our greater involvement, personally with our sons and in improving the education system in America will be the most important outcome of The Trouble With Boys