Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Conversation Has Begun!

I think I struck a nerve with my new book. Forty eight hours after my book came out, friends emailed to say it was #13 on Amazon.com. Then letters starting coming in -- teachers saying it was about time someone started talking about this, anguished parents describing their son's struggles. Not ten letters. HUNDREDS of letters. Every day since my book came out. I'm reading each one and I'll answer each one, but right now, I"m going to post a few (after I get the author's permission of course) to reflect the kinds of concerns I"m hearing.

1 Comments:

Blogger Hope4Equality said...

Thank you for giving this issue so much dedication. Your efforts are absolutely critical and appreciated. I would like to point out where I think we differ. Much of your focus is promoting different teaching methods for boys and girls. While our schools can always improve I do not believe this is responsible for the gender gap between boys and girls. I believe responsibility lies squarely on the current women’s rights movement. I refrain from associating the word feminism with these groups. Feminism is a positive movement that has been substantially injured by the majority of current groups that call themselves feminists.

Why are current teaching models not sufficient for boys? Biological differences have always been present and boys continued to thrive. Environmental factors (plastics etc.) are virtually genderless in their effects (although reducing exposure is still a noble idea). We need to look at what has changed. Certainly the movement to educate earlier is more stressful. However stressful environments have never caused a gender gap. From my observations the expectations have gone down. I have a BS in engineering and was in college in the 90’s. Engineering is a profession that changes slowly. The text books and research books were in many cases from the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s. I realized when reading them that they were substantially more difficult to understand when compared to more current books. They were grammatically formal and well written. They were dense in knowledge with much less filler. My father went to school for engineering as well. In reviewing his class materials I recognized a similar pattern. The material and method of learning was for more rigid than what I was subjected to. Thinking further back to the 1800’s it was common for kids to be in the same classroom for all grades. Certainly this made it extremely difficult to retain attention. Yet boys succeeded. So I question why we now think that the method of teaching is the problem. We are confusing the idea of more effective teaching, which is another good cause, with the true problem. If teaching methods were the problem it would not explain that women graduate at a rate nearly 50% higher than men from college. Certainly disengaging boys early in the education process could be correlated with a reduction of boys at a later point. That’s logical but I don’t believe it can explain a 50% difference.

Why is the current women’s rights movement the cause (stress the word current)? Simply put – they are about advantage and not equality. Our reluctance to acknowledge this will simply perpetuate the problem. Interestingly the feminist movement recognized that oppressing women had a significant effect on girls. However the current women’s movement conveniently refuses to acknowledge that the reciprocal is true. This is evidenced by the AAUW study that you critically reviewed, appropriately so. Men are blatantly discriminated against in many areas of public policy – especially family courts and domestic violence. Our society has annihilated men and then questions why they’re not more engaged, particularly in raising their children. I would like to see women be forced to support the ex-husband and children and have limited access and rights and see if their motivation remains high. It’s as if we want to hurt men and still expect that they will maintain their responsibilities.

Until we recognize that the inequities that men suffer from result in this gender gap we will only perpetuate and widen the gap. I see this situation getting far worse. The day will come when 75% of college graduates are women. More surprising than that – it will be within 15 years. It’s amazing to me that groups that claim to be about equality have done this – and they know they have.

November 17, 2008 at 3:26 PM  

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