Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Smart But Barely Made It Through School. Why?

Here's an email from a reader I got last week. He struggled in high school...then, at 27, went to college. Here's what he says about high school now.
I very much enjoyed your book. I struggled unbelievably in my high school career for a number of reasons and have worked hard to help other young men who are in the same situation.

Some of the thoughts I came up with:

The wide disparaging of quality in our national school system and their standards. For myself, I moved from a very poor high school district in IL where I did fairly well academically to a very wealthy suburban school in MN. Upon arriving I realized how academically ahead all of these students were of me and I could not find a path to catch up. They had been taking AP courses since their sophomore year and I had no idea what AP even was.

I could not find any way to compete with these kids and viewed college as something I could never achieve. Deep down I was every bit as smart and creative as those students, but I didn't have a way of expressing that.

As a student, I never learned well in large groups being lectured. I needed to touch, feel, get my hands dirty to learn. I needed movement.

I did graduate HS, but barely, I had to take summer courses to get enough credits.

Since that time I feel I was fairly successful in the business world and eventually chose to go back to school at age 27. I am currently going full time to (name of college) where I hope to graduate next year. Its been a learning experience. There is nothing like being in a classroom with a female teacher, and a nearly all female class telling you how bad men are because they make $1.00 for every $.72 a women earns.

Thanks for the writing this book.

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A Teacher Writes

This teacher works in a highly regarded school. So, as you might imagine, I was so pleased to get this message forwarded to me.

The book is well worth reading. It changed me as a teacher, making me more aware of boys' needs both academically and developmentally. It didn't just change my personal narrative policy - it also made me much more tolerant of the need for boys to move around, and helped me understand their need to relate to each other verbally and physically in ways very different from those of girls. Classrooms tend to be places where we are more tolerant of "girl behavior" than "boy behavior;" the book really helped me examine this in my practice.

Dear Mecca -- I want to clone your open minded approach to your students. Middle school teachers who work with low performing boys tell me that the boys are beaten down and demoralized by the time they get there.

Experiences in elementary school shape the way boys -- and all kids -- look at schooling.

Your students are so lucky to have such a reflective person at the front of the class.
Peg Tyre

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Teachers know there is a problem

Got this letter this weekend.

Peg -- Did you know that your book inspired a change in the personal narrative writing assignment policy at (Name of School) ?

The fifth grade teachers read the book, conferred, and decided that asking boys to write about their inner feelings and emotions was a losing battle. Year after year they'd get essays like "The Winning Goal" and "My First Ride on the Roller Coaster." So this year they're allowing kids to write fictional narratives so they can explore "someone else's" feelings.

Nice job!

Not exactly what I would have advised for a change in writing assignments, but... a good thoughtful start!

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

School Begins. Boys Struggle. Parents Want Help.

Now that school has started, I'm getting a steady stream of letters from parents of boys. Here's an excerpt from one:
My son started Kindergarten three weeks ago and all I can say is that I am SO grateful I had your book under my belt. To date the experience has been just awful. My happy and enthusiastic little learner is already showing signs of school-avoidance and stress just three weeks into beginning Kindergarten. That is not acceptable to me.
The writer goes on to describe a sad but familiar scene.

I've volunteered in the room and am shocked to see nearly exclusive "seat time" for the entire morning through to lunch, most often without a break for recess. It seems that on most days the teacher opts for "quiet time" in lieu of recess, where the children finish their highly structured academic work (which follows a lengthy circle time), select and quietly play on the floor with an activity of their choosing. But this "quiet activity" time is short, quiet, and allows for little movement. I'm pretty horrified, frankly.

Not surprisingly, most (all?) of the "behavioral problems" are boys. It is the boys who are admonished to not move, speak out of turn, and are sent to timeout (and our teacher, who has taught for decades, will classify my son's behavior for the entire morning as "poor" if he fidgets, or calls out of turn, or touches others).
Is this happening in your son's classroom?

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

More Women Than Men Getting Doctoral Degrees!

So, it happened. Women are now getting more doctoral degrees than men. Gosh, how things have changed. See, too, that men still make up the majority of administrative positions at colleges and universities.

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