Saturday, January 21, 2006

Gender Gap

So people are saying that schools need to be more masculine because the feminization of the school system is choking the life out of their husky, rough and tumble boys.

You know what? I agree. I think that elementary schools need to be more masculine.

Problem is, they seem to think more masculine means more sports or movement or something. Oddly enough, I think it just means more men.

Now, I’m not against more activity in classrooms and I think more physical education would do everyone some good. I’m just amused that people who think that gender characteristics are so genetic that boys can’t possibly learn to adapt also think that a bunch of female teachers would ever be able to implement these changes properly, consistently, and without the type of invasive oversight that will finally force them all to just quit (as most of the ones I know are constantly threatening to do). I also can’t get over the idea that the most obvious solution to all this – to actually put more men in the elementary classrooms – completely escapes them. And on the rare occasions when it doesn’t, they* never stop to consider what this actually means about what is masculine and what is feminine.

There are also people who argue that kids shouldn’t have to read just fiction in school, and that, since boys tend to like non-fiction more than girls, making kids read non-fiction will help to bridge the gap.**

Again, this sounds like a splendid idea to me. In fact, why don’t we design whole units and subjects around this for older kids. We can call them “social studies” and “science.” Those sound like good names to start out with. We should also make sure that we start teaching these subjects as early as possible, even if it means cutting into the time allotted for the ‘three R’s”, since boys are already falling behind by fourth grade. You know what else we can do? We can incorporate this into when kids are learning to read. Maybe if we focus as much on the purpose and joy of reading as we do the mechanics of it we’ll get fewer boys falling behind in the primary grades as well.

There are also people who complain that boys just don’t have enough choices when it comes to books for them to read.

Again, I can see that. In fact, I do see it every day at work. I suggest books to girls all the time and they’re plenty eager to read them. I’m not so good at suggesting books for boys, though. Boy’s tell me they like adventure and mystery and I stupidly suggest The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. Being a girl, I missed all the flowers and hearts and rainbows when I read it, ‘cause I’m not allergic to that stuff the way boys are. Apparently, I keep forgetting that girl cooties are real. (That’s easy to forget, being a girl, because most girls learn that boy cooties aren’t real – or at least not life threatening, anyway - by the time they’re old enough to read Harry Potter.)

People complain that the books that boys do like that are written for them are just plain trash and they’re forced to venture out into the adult sections to find their poor neglected boys books.

I respectfully decline to comment on that. As a former kid who read The Babysitter’s Club series and The Hobbit nearly simultaneously, and as an adult who thinks that Dogzilla and The Lady Lies demonstrate more literary talent than The DaVinci Code does, I’m not sure my opinion on this particular subject would be much appreciated.

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