"The Boy Crisis" part 2: Boy Brains and Girl Brains

More from Michael Gurian’s Washington Post article (hat tip: Family Scholars Blog) on men’s alleged disappearance from higher education. Mr. Gurian writes:

Now we’re seeing what’s wrong with the system for millions of boys. Beginning in very early grades, the sit-still, read-your-book, raise-your-hand-quietly, don’t-learn-by-doing-but-by-taking-notes classroom is a worse fit for more boys than it is for most girls. This was always the case, but we couldn’t see it 100 years ago.

Actually, a century ago the newspapers and magazines were filled with anxious experts worrying about exactly this – that school was somehow too feminine and tame for boys. In particular, Americans 100 years ago were worried about the negative effects of female teachers – would boys possibly become men if they lacked male role model teachers, or would they grow up to be wimps?

I mention this because what Mr Gurian sees as a new phenomenon, I see as a very old one – the tendency of some social conservatives to view boys as fragile and easily broken or corrupted by exposure to the feminine. Both a century ago and today, even mundane experiences – such as having a female teacher, or being made to sit in a classroom – are seen by some folks as damaging boys’ potential to become successful adult men.

For example, consider this quote from Herman Scheffauer, from Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine in 1908:

The results of the effeminization of our schools are at last evident enough – lax discipline, lack of reverence for rules and consequently for law, inefficiency among the scholars, and helplessness among the teachers. But far worse is the utter absence of all that goes to instill ideas of honor and the higher conduct of life into the fallow ground of the young man’s mind….

It is not the making of the physical “mollycoddle” we need fear, but of the mental and moral one. It is weaklings of this sort, unreinforced with the proper stamina of soul, that have brought about the hideous reign of graft and crime that seems to devastate our land.

Mr. Gurian argues that in the past, boys classroom deficiencies were covered up by greater parental involvement, unlike today. And I have to say: huh? Is there any evidence that parents are less involved with their children’s educations today than in the past? If anything, parents are more hyper-involved than ever before – which is probably one reason more kids than ever go on to college after high school.

Mr. Gurian argues that the problem is that boys have brains which don’t do well in a classroom learning environment:

Boys have a lot of Huck Finn in them — they don’t, on average, learn as well as girls by sitting still, concentrating, multitasking, listening to words. For 20 years, I have been taking brain research into homes and classrooms to show teachers, parents and others how differently boys and girls learn. Once a person sees a PET or SPECT scan of a boy’s brain and a girl’s brain, showing the different ways these brains learn, they understand. As one teacher put it to me, “Wow, no wonder we’re having so many problems with boys.”

Uh-huh. It’s worth noting that the majority of empirical research has found that mentally, the sexes are far more alike than different (for a recent review, see Janet Hyde’s meta-analysis: “The Gender Similarities Hypothesis,” American Psychologist, Sept. 2005, p 581-592) . Even the famous math and language differences have shrunk to very minor differences over the years.

Take a look at this table (originally printed in the Chronicle of Higher Education, from US Department of Education numbers, and with thanks to Rachel’s Tavern).

Undergraduate enrollment by income, sex, and race/ethnicity

If boys have brains that leave them less able to handle schooling than girls, then why is the effect so inconsistant? Why aren’t these base biological differences showing up in middle class white boys, or in asian boys of any class – aren’t they boys too?

What Mr. Gurian sees as a matter of universal differences in brains, looks to me a lot more like a complicated intersection of sex, race, and class.

Of course, it’s still possible that the “boy brains” thesis is true. Perhaps all boys have this “boy brain” defect, but that at some intersections of class and race parents and schools are systematically rescuing boys from their own brains. For instance, perhaps schools – due to racism and classism – are more willing to write off low-income black boys as a loss the first time they fall behind, but attempt to rescue middle-income white and asian boys.[*] And perhaps such “rescue attempts” given boys in the right income and racial classes enough of a boost to overcome the academic disadvantage of having boy brains.

[*] Actually, I have no doubt that this does happen.

Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps. Certainly explanations can be concocted. But if Mr. Gurian’s “boy brain” theory can only be rescued by resorting to explanations which take into account the effects of discrimination, sexism, class and race, we have to ask: what’s left over that we need the “boy brain” theory to explain? What explanatory power does it have, when it seems to fit the data much less well than the theory that if we could overcome the barriers of racism and classism, boys are as capable of flourishing in classrooms as girls are?

Wouldn’t it be simpler, given the differences we see, to start out by assuming that if middle-income white boys are capable of doing as well as middle-income white girls, then boys from other racial and income classes are, too?

It’s clear there is a real crisis going on here. There are way too many boys from indian, black, hispanic and low-income families who are not benefitting from school, and whose future is needlessly dim; it’s a tragedy for those boys and for our entire society if things keep going the way they’ve been. I wish I had the solution, but I don’t. Nonetheless, I’m convinced that wrong analysis will lead us to wrong solutions. The people who are focusing on boy’s brains, and pretty much ignoring class and race, are coming up with solutions that will be expensive and unhelpful at best, and actually harmful at worst.

UPDATE: EL at “My Amusement Park” comments.

This entry posted in Boy crisis, Feminism, sexism, etc, Race, racism and related issues. Bookmark the permalink. 

78 Responses to "The Boy Crisis" part 2: Boy Brains and Girl Brains

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  6. 6
    the15th says:

    I love how totally opposite concepts can both be considered part of the dreaded “feminization” of society. “Lax discipline” and an overemphasis on rules. Parental uninvolvement and parental overinvolvement.

  7. 7
    Letty says:

    ‘Sitting still’ and discipline were part and parcel of teaching when the teachers were almost exclusively male. But now that teachers are often female, strict discipline suddenly is a problem for boys?

  8. 8
    roberta robinson says:

    I don’t know about all that jazz but I do know that a classroom enviroment isn’t good for anyone, sitting and reading and trying to learn theory from words on paper, when I was young i would of preferred a huck finn ideal of getting out of the classroom and doing in the real world, seeing the theories or whatever in action.

    I am a girl yet I would of rather done that, but as it was I had to sit and behave and read the stuff and pass quizes, boring to the max, how in the world can they expect kids, who are physically and mentally sponges who need physical and mental stimulation?

    as a result I don’t know how to do, I mean I understand theories and what it is I am learning or have learned but I never learned how to put my ideas to work, ot actually impliment them, didn’t learn that part.

    but if they favor boys in this way they will create more girls who don’t reach their full potential, but if they are favoring boys and teaching them learning and putting into practice what they learn then they will make them believe that they are superior to woman, otherwise why would the school system favor them with more interesting way to learn?

    also I believe that boys are no more fragile then girls, in fact coddling them only makes them wimps, by excusing their behaviors as boys will be boys, we don’t want any sissy’s attitudes then we encourage them to bascially do what they want because that is what men do, so they are taught, and the poor girls raised in that mentality start to believe it too, men have to be their own bosses type attitudes, but girls are answerable to men, that attitude is still among us, maybe not as open as it used to be.

    and for some reason when things don’t work out for the menfolk then they blame the girl folks, I will never understand that. men and woman are basically alike more than different, men and girls alike need the same things, food, , love, air, water, rest, exercise, and mental stiumlation, respect, spritual needs being met, reaching their full potential in whatever they choose, and equal treatments and rewards for a job well done, I mean the list is endless.

    and 15th your right it is not only a double standard but a double edge sword, when things go right then we don’t get any credit but when things go wrong, and woman (or any other minoirity take your pick) and we are to blame. if we do right then we are considered self righteous and uptight, but if we do wrong, we are called sluts, immoral and whores.

    and for the men if a man doesn’t sleep around with girls he is considered either a wimp or a homo, or if he does he is called a stud, I mean what is up with that, talk about a double standard if I ever seen one.

    RR

  9. 9
    Rachel S says:

    I wonder if they think racism and classism feminizes boys. LOL!! The irony is that our culture stereotypes these young working class Black and Latino men as hypermasculine–either the “oversexed Black adonis” or the “macho Latin lover.” I think their white working class counterparts are also considered more masculine than middle class White guys. (I’m not so sure about the current stereotype of American Indians.) I can help laughing at the irony. The truth of the matter is that they don’t want to acknowledge racism and classism. They genuinely see this as a problem facing middle and upper income White men. It is so ironic and sad that it is downright funny. I have to laugh to keep from crying.

  10. 10
    drumgurl says:

    Wait, are they asking us to change the current structure to accommodate boys? That’s asking for preferential treatment! We never should have given those damn men the right to vote!

  11. 11
    mythago says:

    I find it hard to believe that Gurian actually believes his own “science”. He thinks girls are quiet, precious flowers who shouldn’t mess up their life’s work as wives and mothers with all that education nonsense.

  12. 12
    Mendy says:

    As a woman that is geared towards mathematics and the hard sciences, I can tell you that my “ease” and “comfort” with those fields never garnered me any respect from anyone other than my teachers and parents.

    The guys never quite knew how to act around me and the girls could be outright mean, but I’m not sure how that ties into the social structure of patriarchy. I don’t think that men are inherently better at math and science than women are, but I do think that more attention is focused on a young girl’s looks and or attitude than on *what* she is studying in school. An example of this is my parents never said consistenly “My, aren’t you lovely”. The normal praise I received was “You are so smart. You can do anything you want to do.”

  13. 13
    RonF says:

    Gurian writes:

    “Beginning in very early grades, the sit-still, read-your-book, raise-your-hand-quietly, don’t-learn-by-doing-but-by-taking-notes classroom is a worse fit for more boys than it is for most girls. This was always the case, but we couldn’t see it 100 years ago.”

    And Amp responds:

    “Actually, a century ago the newspapers and magazines were filled with anxious experts worrying about exactly this – that school was somehow too feminine and tame for boys. In particular, Americans 100 years ago were worried about the negative effects of female teachers – would boys possibly become men if they lacked male role model teachers, or would they grow up to be wimps?”

    I wouldn’t hold forth the proposition that female teachers feminize boys. But I would argue that there is one difference between 100 years ago and now; Ritalin. While ADHD certainly exists, I personally suspect that there’s a lot of boys getting Ritalin or one of the other such drugs because it makes the (almost always a) boy a lot more compliant with the “sit-still, read-your-book, raise-your-hand-quietly, don’t-learn-by-doing-but-by-taking-notes classroom” routine.

  14. 14
    RonF says:

    Amp says:

    “Of course, it’s still possible that the “boy brains” thesis is true. Perhaps all boys have this “boy brain” defect, but that at some intersections of class and race parents and schools are systematically rescuing boys from their own brains. For instance, perhaps schools – due to racism and classism – are more willing to write off low-income black boys as a loss the first time they fall behind, but attempt to rescue middle-income white and asian boys.[*] And perhaps such “rescue attempts” given boys in the right income and racial classes enough of a boost to overcome the academic disadvantage of having boy brains.”

    I have an alternative proposal. In middle-class white and asian families, you have a much higher incidence of dual parents and parents that have post-secondary education than you do in Hispanic and black families. The parents have more understanding of the educational process, more resources (both time and money) to assist their child with it. Whereas in Hispanic and black families, you are more likely to have single-parent families and parents who are less likely to have had post-secondary education. Less understanding of the educational process, less time and money to help their child with their education.

    Both the left and the right, for different motives and reasons, tend to blame youth educational failures on the structures of the public school system. Now, I don’t minimize that there are definitely differences between the resources that the schools have in different areas. Now, I don’t know what schools do as far as “rescuing” white kids and Asian kids that they would refuse or neglect to do for black or Hispanic kids. However, from what I see, the major factor of why one kid fails and another kid succeeds is the parents.

    This explains your question of “If boys have brains that leave them less able to handle schooling than girls, then why is the effect so inconsistant? Why aren’t these base biological differences showing up in middle class white boys, or in asian boys of any class – aren’t they boys too?” Yes, they’re boys, but their parents push education a lot harder.

    You talk about schools not failing Asian kids? I do interviews for MIT’s admissions process. Guess which ethnic group I see the most of. Hint: it’s not Caucasian. Why? Start with the fact that Asian kids spend most of their time when they’re not in school either studying or in an extracurricular activity that exercises their brains. These kids are in Math club, or music (most of them are involved in music), or something like that. What I never see is that the Asian kid is on an athletic team. Not that they’re too small or weak, but their parents won’t have it.

    I’m not talking to these kids about going to MIT because the schools didn’t fail them; I’m talking to them because their parents didn’t fail them. They set high standards and demand their kids meet them. And they don’t see football or basketball as their kids’ ticket to a bright future or a college scholarship.

    BTW: MIT has two different classifications for minorities. One’s just “minorities”, and the other is “underrepresented minorities”. As far as I can tell, the latter are students who are members of minority groups whose incidence at MIT is lower than their percentage of the U.S. population (I may not be exactly on point with this definition). Asians, however, qualify as the former but not the latter; I think that kids of Asian heritage are about 25% of the student body.

  15. 15
    Elena says:

    Making classes for boys more active and physical, that is, fun, punish the students who are doing their best to follow rules and do the work- girls, for example. Wow, it really doesn’t pay to follow the rules.

    Isn’t what this man is proposing really just the same old giving boys a pass on bad behavior, boys will be boys, let’s not expect them to behave decently crapola? He’s not even pretending to consider that the real problem is the way certain families raise their boys, and the behavior standards they hold them to.

  16. 16
    silverside says:

    Actually, Newsweek had an article on this a couple of years ago. How the children of recent immigrants had vastly different outcomes. The traditionalist parents kept the girls close to home, didn’t let them “run,”
    took them as translators on visits to doctors, social workers, etc. The boys were allowed more “freedom.” The result: The girls learned to study, master English, discipline themselves, and went on to college. The boys embraced the “freedom” of the streets, and then found themselves dropping out of school, joining gangs, ending up in prison.

    I’m as big a fan of “progressive” education as anyone. It’s no secret that all people learn better when engaged than when acting as little robots. But it’s also true that life is not all fun and games, and that there are times you need to learn to sit and just get the homework done and put off the fun till later. And frankly, I do think the exaggerated macho of a lot of hip hop culture is at fault here, too. A “real man” doesnt’ need to study and be a professional success. He just needs to keep his women in line, ad nauseum, and collect lots of bling or whatever it’s called these days.

  17. 17
    Glaivester says:

    I wonder if they think racism and classism feminizes boys. LOL!! The irony is that our culture stereotypes these young working class Black and Latino men as hypermasculine”“either the “oversexed Black adonis” or the “macho Latin lover.”

    It’s not really ironic – if you believe that schools are too “girly,” and designed for girl’s strenghts and not boys’ strengths, it would make sense that races which are considered more masculine would have more trouble in them, and that males of those races would have the most trouble. Moreoever, the more feminine races (and Asians are generally stereotyped as more feminine, or less masculine, than whites) would have an easier time.

  18. 18
    the15th says:

    I do interviews for MIT’s admissions process.

    Hey, me too! Nerd pride!

  19. What is interesting is that schools were originally designed for boys. Not for girls. For boys. This seems to be suddenly forgotten.

    What is also interesting is that the very same patterns are seen in countries as different from the U.S. as Iran. So the reasons are not something specific to this country or the feminist revolution.

    Guryan has no training in sciences, by the way. He is a propagandist.

  20. 20
    Lis Riba says:

    RonF:

    I would argue that there is one difference between 100 years ago and now; Ritalin. While ADHD certainly exists, I personally suspect that there’s a lot of boys getting Ritalin or one of the other such drugs because it makes the (almost always a) boy a lot more compliant with the “sit-still, read-your-book, raise-your-hand-quietly, don’t-learn-by-doing-but-by-taking-notes classroom” routine

    Echidne:

    What is interesting is that schools were originally designed for boys. Not for girls. For boys. This seems to be suddenly forgotten.

    I just feel the need to point out that ADHD affects girls as well as boys. In fact, last I heard, researchers believe it’s evenly distributed between the sexes, but underdiagnosed in girls.*

    And girls with ADD do just as poorly in “traditional” classrooms as boys.

    *Digression on ADHD:

    Boys’ ADD is more noticeable because it’s often more externally-focused and thus perceived as disruptive. Girls who have ADD tend to be more inwardly-directed. Picture the dreamy girl in the back of the classroom who’s staring out the window or creating fantasy worlds in her head rather than paying attention. This type of student is just as distractible as the externally-focused types, but it’s less obvious and more-often goes undetected
    The squeaky wheel gets the grease, and the non-disruptive inwardly-directed student can often slide on through the system, underachieving yet undiagnosed.

  21. 21
    Ann Bartow says:

    I agree with everything you’ve written, but one thing I think is sad, and not irrelevant, is the dearth of male teachers, especially in the primary grades. Teaching seems to be too low paying and low status to attract many men (though there may be other factors as work as well – this is certainly not my area of expertise). Certainly female teachers can teach boys very well, of that I have no doubt, but I do think it is helpful to the boys, indeed all the students, to have male teachers as well as female.

  22. 22
    NancyP says:

    I’d say all students benefit from a balance of traditional “sit in your chair and listen or write” teaching methods and more active methods. Lab experiments, field trips to the history museum, doing readings of Shakespeare rather than just relying on plot outlines and themes, language lab classes with conversation practice and with (goofy, but works) watching segments of sitcoms or ads in language, not to mention art, drama, and music classes.

  23. 23
    RonF says:

    ’74, VII-A

    What about you?

  24. 24
    RonF says:

    Lis Riba; Thanks for the info on girls and ADHD. I’ve often wondered on that.

    Elena, I don’t know what this guy proposes. But the rules are made to enable the proper education of students. If the educational methods aren’t effective, we need to adjust/change the rules to get to the desired end point.

    It seems to be proposed that boys learn better using “hands-on” methods. Now, I don’t know how valid it is to propose that boys learn better with that method than girls do. But I wonder if that has anything to do with the preponderance of boys in science and engineering in secondary and post-secondary education. After all, it’s almost impossible to effectively teach science at that level *without* hands-on work.

    Of course, cooking is nothing more than applied chemistry. But it’s not taught that way, it’s taught mostly on an empirical basis, not a theoretical basis, unless you’re in an advanced program that’s designed to turn out professional chefs. But then, even though women are the majority of cooks, men are the majority of professional chefs. Gotta think how this all ties together ….

  25. 25
    the15th says:

    ’99, XVIII.

    It’s interesting that women have made the most gains in the science fields that are the most dependent on hands-on experiments — biology and chemistry as opposed to math or theoretical physics.

  26. 26
    Mendy says:

    I think everyone can benefit from hands on education. When I was in high school my physics teacher had us playing billards as a means of learning various concepts in physics. It is often easier to understand something if you can *see* or *feel* how it works.

    I don’t see it as a gendered thing. I am very adept at mathematics, sciences, and English. I seem to grasp science and mathematics without much hard study, but I do have to work for history and literature.

  27. 27
    Jenny K says:

    “It’s interesting that women have made the most gains in the science fields that are the most dependent on hands-on experiments … biology and chemistry as opposed to math or theoretical physics.”

    Hmmm…might that – and the chef thing as well – have anything to do with the reason why the number of women in concert orchestras jumped once they instituted blind auditions? After all, “hands-on experiments” also tends to mean that you are collecting data along the way – not just working on theories that often have yet to be proven (and, in the case of theoretical physics, likely never will be in your lifetime).

  28. 28
    mythago says:

    If the educational methods aren’t effective

    Since they were apparently effective in the past, what’s changed?

    In fact, last I heard, researchers believe it’s evenly distributed between the sexes, but underdiagnosed in girls.*

    The same as is true of autism-spectrum disorders like Asperger Syndrome.

    A hundred years ago, ADHD was treated with corporal punishment and expulsion.

  29. 29
    Magis says:

    ‘A hundred years ago, ADHD was treated with corporal punishment and expulsion.”

    Not trying to be flip but maybe a swat on the bottom was preferable to drugging them into a compliant stupor.

    Maybe it is harder for boys to sit still when they’re young but it’s called socialization. Much of modern educational theory is pap. But it’s pap for girls too. And since when is teaching boys to be responsible and do their duty (homework) feminization? As someone upthread mentioned, the system was originally designed for boys.

    I’m certainly not against more interactive methods of teaching but I think it will benefit girls as well. Still, boys, plant your little botttoms and do your times tables.

  30. 30
    RonF says:

    ’99, XVIII.

    Oh, and I forgot; PKT.

    It’s interesting that women have made the most gains in the science fields that are the most dependent on hands-on experiments … biology and chemistry as opposed to math or theoretical physics.

    That so? Gotta wonder why. Are there any theories on this?

  31. 31
    RonF says:

    Since they were apparently effective in the past, what’s changed?

    I can think of a lot of things, but what effects they have on this I’m not sure in some cases.

    For one thing, kids spend much more time these days in their after-school hours in activities where they don’t interact with other kids, like TV, video games, etc. These things also keep the kids from having to use their own imaginations as much as they would have to if they read. I’m not sure if this has any effect; perhaps the concentration on solitary pursuits that are also very vivid affects their ability to concentrate on matters at hand at school, which is very much more a group activity and is not dedicated to entertaining the kids.

    There’s also the upswing in parents who tend to blame the schools for their kids problems instead of the kids or themselves. I’m not talking about ADHD kids, mind you, but normal discipline problems. Back in the day, one reason why I behaved in school was because I knew that if I was disciplined at school I’d get it twice as bad at home. Now the tendency seems much more to be that if the schools try to discipline a kid, the parents go to the school and try to find fault with the teacher and the school administration. It’s one reason why my wife quit teaching (the lousy pay didn’t help either).

    It’s much more difficult for the schools to administer discipline to the kids these days, whether it’s language, behavior, clothing, or even academic standards. And if you can’t discipline the kids, you can’t educate them.

  32. 32
    Lis Riba says:

    Since they were apparently effective in the past, what’s changed?

    Well, if you look at society as a whole, we’re not using the same methods as in the past.

    One massive change is recess and gym classes are being eliminated, even in elementary schools. It’s the intersection of budget-cuts and higher academic standards, requiring students spend more time in the classroom but not willing to pay to extend the schoolday.

    Kids don’t get a chance to burn off excess energy on the playground, which makes it harder to sit still and learn.
    Plus, lunch and other opportunities to socialize are also being squeezed (some schools have assigned lunch seating), leaving kids little time to regularly chat with their friends outside the classroom.

    A second contributing factor may be fewer viable career opportunities for high-school dropouts. Used to be, students who didn’t suit school could find a decent-paying job in a factory or with the military or entry-level sales. What jobs still exist more-and-more require a diploma as a condition of employment. Which means these kids are staying in the classrooms, and possibly becoming a disruptive element in higher grades.

  33. 33
    mythago says:

    much more time these days

    “These days” is kind of vague when we’re looking for hard data about improving student performance.

    Sitting around and reading doesn’t burn off as much energy as playing Dance Dance Revolution. And really, you’re sliding from a discussion of ‘what are the schools doing?’ to a rant about how kids these days aren’t as good as kids in our day. It’s a sign of middle age. ;)

    Lis, I agree with your opinion of lower recess, but a) that doesn’t relate to instructional methods and b) lack of careers for dropouts doesn’t explain a gender gap in performance in elementary-grade children.

  34. 34
    Lis Riba says:

    Lis, I agree with your opinion of lower recess, but a) that doesn’t relate to instructional methods and b) lack of careers for dropouts doesn’t explain a gender gap in performance in elementary-grade children.
    Are you trying to narrow the focus, because I thought this was how schools were underserving kids, not specifically focused on instructional methods and elementary-grades.

    That said, I’d argue the lack of physical activity does relate to instructional methods, because restless kids are less receptive. And that can reduce the efficacy of otherwise perfectly suitable teaching techniques.

  35. 35
    alsis39 says:

    RonF wrote:

    Now the tendency seems much more to be that if the schools try to discipline a kid, the parents go to the school and try to find fault with the teacher and the school administration.

    Speaking as someone who was bullied in school and threatened with suspension for fighting back, I’m damn grateful that my folks were willing to come to school and read the riot act to the school officials. Those jackasses knew that I was being harassed and did nothing– until they caught me slamming a tormentors’ hands in his locker after a particularly nasty encounter. Then they decided to threaten me with suspension. Boys harassing girls was a natural thing, but the girl fighting back– that was a big no-no to some of these neanderthals.

    Grrr…

  36. 36
    Lee says:

    Alsis, up to a point I totally agree with you. There are definitely times when the parents need to go to the school and raise a big stink, as in your case, or similarly in my babysitter’s case, when she was attacked in the hall by three other girls (and the attack was caught on the surveillance camera tape) and was the only one threatened with suspension. Or as should have been in that case in Ohio this fall, where the principal tried to cover up a rape on school property.

    But RonF also has a point, because I have noticed, and had teachers tell me about, incidents where the rule and the consequences for breaking the rule are clearly printed in the handbook, the parent has signed a piece of paper stating that they have read, understood, and will ensure their children will comply with the rules in the handbook, and yet when their child is caught breaking a rule, the parents will storm into the school and raise a ruckus about how their child is being persecuted and the punishment will ruin them for life and they’re calling a TV station and a lawyer RIGHT NOW. Kinda hard to maintain a proper learning environment when you have to worry about a little chat with your principal every time you fail a kid or mark one tardy or put one in timeout or request detention. Kinda hard to feel good about your job when one of your students has been arrested for assaulting a colleague and you find out you were next on the kid’s little list.

  37. 37
    RonF says:

    Speaking as someone who was bullied in school and threatened with suspension for fighting back, I’m damn grateful that my folks were willing to come to school and read the riot act to the school officials.

    Fair enough, but I’m talking more about the parents of the kid who does the bullying coming to the school and school board meetings and accusing the administration of picking on their kid because there’s nothing wrong with their darling kid, he’s just high-strung or the teachers don’t like him or something such.

  38. 38
    Anne says:

    How are things different? Good grief, what isn’t different? Just forty years ago: kids had at least an hour of physical education/recess every day; Ritalin was not used; no video game culture; no “bling” culture; school wasn’t based almost entirely on rote memorization for passing standardized tests; there were some rules that everyone followed while in school; parents could work a normal 40-hour week and have a decent standard of living; a one-income family was a possibility.

    How about in society at large? The “Me First” generations had yet to take over; advertising wasn’t a constant din no one could escape; there were serious adults in the government, business, the professions, and the media that one could imagine emulating; political cynicism was fairly mild; there was real hope for a better life if you worked hard in school and job.

    Why the hell would any child sit still with things as they are now? Only because of truly gifted teachers has there been any hope at all. My brother is one such teacher, but he gets paid squat while being harassed by administrators, parents, and lazy students alike. Only a handful of students, parents, and administrators appreciate or reward his efforts with anything commensurate to the time, care, and effort he puts in. Many others like him just gave up after a while.

    The effects of all this have been coming down hard on poor kids in urban schools for decades and only a few people outside those communities cared. Then it crept into the schools of the lower-income, working classes and there was a little more alarm. Now that it’s hitting the schools where the white middle-class boys are fully affected, people like Gurian are wringing their hands and crying out for solutions. He’s decades too late; we’ve already created a brave new world and now we’re getting to live in it.

  39. 39
    RonF says:

    Oh, I think the kids themselves are just as good these days as they were when I went to school. It’s the parents I fault. Look at the graph again. The kids that do well have parents that for one reason or another spend more time making sure their kids take advantage of educational opportunities.

    I was at a Scout outing once that included both parents and kids (there were both Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts there). I stood with the parents for a while and we chit-chatted. The topic came around to our local elementary school. The news had just come down that of the 8 elementary schools that feed kids into our local high school, our local elementary school was worst. I volunteered that my kids had gone to that school and that they seemed to do O.K. when they went to high school.

    At that point, one of the women spoke up. She had spent years on the local elementary school board. She said, with intensity, But you have expectations for your kids! She expanded on her point. While she conceded that the elementary school had its faults, she said that the major factor was that far too many parents in the neighborhood really didn’t put effort into setting a high academic standard for their kids and taking the steps needed to get them to meet it, like restrictions on TV, video games, socializing at other kids’ houses instead of working on their homework after school, taking them out of school for various non-academic reasons, placing more importance on athletic achievement than academic achievement, etc., etc. Apparently my kids had a reputation around the school’s faculty I was unaware of.

    It probably also helped that when my wife and I went to the parent-teacher conferences, I gave each one of my kids’ teachers my home, cell, and work numbers and told them that if they ever had a problem with my kid, they should call at any hour of the day or night and I’d be glad to drop what I was doing to talk to them. I also made sure my kids knew this.;

    But I’ve had a fair amount of contact with Asian kids and parents, and I’ve seen what goes on in those households. Irregardless of their economic status, studies are everything. And it shows.

  40. 40
    alsis39 says:

    Yeah, but you’re not going to have one of those things without the other, Ron. When you have two sets of authorities set up (ie– Parents and Teaching Admin.) they are going to disagree at some point. I’m just saying that it’s not necessarily always a bad thing that today’s parents are more inclined to challenge admin. decisions. Sometimes, yes. Always, no.

    Honestly, I have two siblings that teach public school, so this isn’t me attempting to bash teachers.

  41. 41
    clew says:

    All kids, no matter whether they’re naturally better at running around or at sitting quietly and reading, should be allowed to do some of what they enjoy (with, in school, some pedagogical direction) and required to practice some of what they’re bad at.

  42. 42
    Snowe says:

    All kids, no matter whether they’re naturally better at running around or at sitting quietly and reading, should be allowed to do some of what they enjoy (with, in school, some pedagogical direction) and required to practice some of what they’re bad at.

    That’s exactly what the Montessori method allows for. You’re allowed to move around as long as you don’t disturb other people; at the Montessori school I attended in elementary, we could choose the order in which we did our subjects. There’s a lot of hands-on learning, especially in preschool and kindergarten. If you got done with your work early, you can read a book or choose some other educational activity. We had plenty of recess too! In fact, recess was used to motivate the kids–if everyone finished their work satisfactorily, we got more outdoors time. The school I attended only went up to third grade; afterwards, a lot of us ended up in the same private school together. Most of the Montessori kids were in the top of the class.

    Can you tell I’m totally in love with Montessori stuff? It was like school heaven for kids! When I had to switch to a “traditional” school, it was like being sent to jail. I wish that more public schools could implement this sort of curriculum.

  43. 43
    Ellen says:

    I love the part where Gurian brings the brain scans into the homes of parents and teachers, and they are magically able to interpret them appropriately. “ooh ooh, my kid’s brain is lighting up! that must mean he’s smart!” Heck, what do we need scientists for? ;-p

    Seriously, I think that part of the reason why brain research is so easily misrepresented and misinterpreted is because it’s so easy to look at brain scans and see the different regions activated and draw premature conclusions, when in fact, as far as I know, scientists are still debating how the different regions function and interact.

  44. 44
    Jenny K says:

    The problem with implementing “free play” systems like Montessorri’s in every school is that the system assumes either a certain amount of maturity among the children or cares very little about testable benchmarks (the latter is true of the Montessori system, which is why it works for them).

    My mom teaches first grade and one of the things she does to give kids more “free” time and less “seat” time – while still maing sure they won’t fail their standardized tests – is what’s called centers. The kids get 15 minutes at each center and they go to about four of them. There are years when she pretty much has to scrap the whole thing, even though most years she is able to get them to the point where the process becomes extremely complicated.

    The difference in how the centers work out isn’t really related to how much the kids want to be able to do them of their seat; if anything, the more active classes have a harder time following the rules. The difference is rooted in how much the kids need external discipline in order to get their work done. Now it’s quite possible that we are asking too much of them too soon, but until the standards change, the Montessori system won’t really work at all in most public schools.

  45. 45
    Snowe says:

    I’m not sure about all Montessori schools, but ours had achievement tests every year. I really don’t like the focus on standardized tests; the curriculum in a lot of public schools has been reduced to teaching the test. Both of my younger brothers went to public school for a while, but my parents were forced to put them in private school because they weren’t learning anything.

    I can see your point about some children needing more external discipline; private schools tend to have middle or upper-middle class students whose parents are very focused on education. However, there is a public Montessori school in my college town that was well-regarded.

  46. 46
    DuWayne says:

    Being a part of the “gifted kids” who make up fifty some percent of the highschool drop-out statistic I suspicion that, in large part, the issues with boy-brains v. girl-brains are a simple matter of how kids learn. I was bored out of mind in school – I didn’t do homework, slept in class a lot and yet managed to get a’s and b’s on all my tests and quiz’s. When the oppertunity arose to get tested for a special math and science program the teacher I had for that class period decided I just wanted to get out of class – he said I could not go. I subsequently took a test a year later when they decided to I might need special ed classes that confirmed I probably would have made it into the program. Going into therapy and psych testing two years later it was confirmed that the way in which I integrate information would have virtualy ensured my success in that program. I am not an exception – a lot of very gifted kids get dropped to the wayside because the educational system in this country is broken. I think the reason that women do much better is not as much that their brains are wired differently – everyones is, it’s because they have less options than men maintaining a career that requires less than an advanced education and therefore have a stronger drive to suck it in and get through it – even if they are just going through the motions. That said I beleive there are nearly as many women as men in the position I am in.

    Please don’t think I am trying to do a “poor me, the system screwed me” kind of rant – I’m not, I am responsible for my lot in life. I am saying that in a realistic, less integrated educational system that tailors more to specific student needs and learning strengths – instead of trying to “mainstream” slower students and thereby teaching all kids as though they are slow or even average we would see a substantial drop in drop-outs. . .

  47. 47
    mythago says:

    Just forty years ago:

    Sexual harassment was treated as part of normal male development, ‘special education’ consisted of drugs and borderline abuse (sometimes not so borderline), girls weren’t expected to bother with math or science, and bullying was ignored. What was it you were saying about the good old days again?

    Montessori also works because it has a very high student/teacher ratio.

  48. 48
    Jen says:

    Montessori also works because it has a very high student/teacher ratio.

    Exactly. I teach 7th and 8th grade science in a school in Los Angeles. I have 36 kids in EVERY CLASS. I hardly have enough chairs. I have no extra desks to set up centers.

    I would LOVE to have more hands on activities, less sitting and doing problems/taking notes/reading the book than I do (right now, we do a lab about once a week), but it is impossible to manage. Absolutely impossible. When you have one teacher in a room with 36 children, you simply cannot have kids walking around and doing what they please, because there are too many kids to keep track of. Almost EVERYONE learns better the more hands-on activities they do and the more ways you can teach something (which is why centers work beautifully even in a single-subject classroom–you can have centers all on the same subject and some will focus on the visual, some will focus on tactile things, etc.)

    But the fact of the matter is, with 36 children, in a too small, oddly shaped classroom, it is nearly impossible to do this. Part of better education has got to come from reducing the student-to-teacher ratio to something managable in EVERY class.

  49. 49
    Lis Riba says:

    Another former Montessori student for whom it worked very well. [Montessori preschool thru 1st grade; when I was then mainstreamed into public schools, officials decided to skip me a grade because they thought I'd be too bored.] It may not be the right solution for everyone, but

    Re:Gifted education, people don’t recognize that IQ130 is just as far from the norm as IQ70. My husband grew up in Massachusetts and said Massachusetts didn’t budget for gifted programs, just special ed, so a lot of gifted kids tested and got into special ed programs because it was the only way to get any extra attention.

  50. 50
    the15th says:

    Oh, and I forgot; PKT.

    Senior Haus.

    I’m not sure if anyone has any ideas about why certain science fields have more women than others. Well, other than that women are bad at math. But if it were the other way around, people would say that women are good at things that require sitting down and studying, and men are good at things that involve putting things together in new and unexpected ways. (After all, math nowadays is much less dominated by 20-year-old geniuses than in the past; there is so much material to learn that mathematicians often don’t make contributions until their 30′s.

  51. 51
    Lee says:

    Excuse me, “women are bad at math”? No, sorry, wrong. Women are culturally discouraged from focusing on math or encouraged to go into fields where math is a tool. Or they are not attracted to the professions profiled at the high school guidance counselor’s office that require a degree in math. One of my sisters is extremely good at math, but early on was told that she needed to do something practical, so she chose to become a middle-school science teacher. She says now that she didn’t want to spend her days thinking deep thoughts alone in her office but rather encouraging kids like her to go into the sciences. Some of the best engineers and computer scientists I know (i.e., can do the job well, under budget, on time, and without pissing everybody else off) are women, including the MIT graduates. Geez.

  52. 52
    the15th says:

    Some of the best engineers and computer scientists I know (i.e., can do the job well, under budget, on time, and without pissing everybody else off) are women, including the MIT graduates. Geez.

    I am a woman. I was just pointing out that that’s the explanation that a lot of people like to use because it goes along with their preconceptions. Not agreeing with them.

  53. 53
    Jenny K says:

    “I really don’t like the focus on standardized tests; the curriculum in a lot of public schools has been reduced to teaching the test”

    Well that’s really what I meant by focusing on testing – sorry if it wasn’t clear. (I’ve never been under the impression that Montessorri school never tested their students).

    The problem isn’t that they test, it’s how they test. AP tests are a combination essay/multiple choice because even though multiple choice is actually a more accurate assessment than essay tests because the college board felt it was important that students and their teachers focus on critical thinking as well as as soaking up knowledge.

    Most tests we use to assess public schools have no “critical thinking” compenent. (and can in fact punish it by having trick questions for even the youngest students) Public schools in California have several standardized tests each year that last several days each – and have dire consequences for the schools if each grade does not improve each year. So even when it’s possible otherwise, it isn’t always practical to make time for activities that encourage problem solving skills. Even though we would end up with better students in the end, teachers risk lower test scores that particular year, and the consequences that come with it.

    Good point about student to teacher ratio, though. It’s something I tend to overlook despite it’s importance because our local school district still has a 20:1 ratio for K-2.

  54. 54
    Snowe says:

    Public schools in California have several standardized tests each year that last several days each –

    The public school in my county has a test every month, to make sure that every school in the county is on the same page. I think that’s a ridiculous amount of testing.

    Now, about male teachers…Honestly, the pay is not that good, and there is a lot of cultural pressure on men to be, if not the sole provider, then the “main” provider. I know several guys in college who were drawn to teaching, but rejected it because they didn’t think it would pay enough.

  55. 55
    Casey says:

    I know several guys in college who were drawn to teaching, but rejected it because they didn’t think it would pay enough.

    I know several women who have done the same.

  56. 56
    Casey says:

    I went to a Montessori school from preschool through 3rd grade, and while I definately think it was a better learning experience for me than the public schools after that, socially it was hard on me. There were only 2 other girls my age. I told my mom by the end of 3rd grade that either she enroll me in public school, or i wasn’t going at all. Unfortunately, it was then I started doing so much worse in math. I was at the 5th grade level in math in 3rd grade, but going to public school forced me to “go backwards” and do 4th and 5th grade work all over again. However, i enjoyed recess a lot more and made tons of friends.

    By high school, while i was still generally ahead in math by one year, it was very hard for me. I don’t like the way they teach math at all in public schools. I was constantly critisized for not “showing my work” (ie doing it in my head) and now i can’t even do it in my head at all anymore!

    I should also note that by 4th grade my younger brother ALSO requested to go to public school but he never seemed to have the problem of doing worse in math afterwards. He’s 16 now and is two years ahead in math than i was at his age. my mom tells me he’s better at math because, what else, “he’s a boy”. my teachers have told me before i don’t have to be very good at math, and not to worry, cuz i’m a girl so it’s ok. i’m sure this attitude didn’t help me much either. I used to love math as a kid, by now, i feel like i’m horrible at it, even though i seem to be better than most men i know. after highschool, i took no more math classes.

  57. 57
    Mendy says:

    Casey,

    A friend that I attend university with feels much the same as you. She is perfectly capable at math, but because of her upbringing she doesn’t believe she can do it. I’ve helped her overcome this fear, by showing her that being a woman is no hinderance to her mathematical ability or her ability to grasp science in general. I’m I microbiology major and she is a radiological technologies major. Both fields require quite a bit of advance mathematics and lots of chemistry.

    Everyone needs to excell in academics to the best of their ability, because an education is a requirement for making a living wage or better in this country.

    I disagree with the amount of standardized testing done in public education now. My daughter’s teacher has spent the better part of the year strictly teaching the leap test and not the rest of the curriculum for fifth grade. The job of making sure that my children are challenged and still learning to their potential falls upon my shoulders. I do not fault the teachers for this, but I do fault school boards and government for making a hard job that much more difficult.

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  59. 58
    Lee says:

    the15th, then I read your comment straight instead of ironically – it sure looked as if you were serious. The “women are bad at math” phrase is one I hear from women just as often as from men, so I wasn’t assuming anything about your personal characteristics when I wrote my post. I’m sorry if you took it that way.

  60. 59
    RonF says:

    There have certainly been some changes in the results of math and science instruction with regard to the sexes. When I was a student at MIT from 1970 to 1974, the sex ratio was male:female::10:1. Now it’s more like 55:45. While MIT has gone to significant effort to balance out it’s student body, they don’t admit students who can’t do the work. On that basis I’m guessing that the “girls aren’t good at math” concept has been losing ground for some time.

  61. 60
    LizardBreath says:

    There’s actually an interesting admissions story about MIT — the big influx of women was right around when I went there (starting a year or two before me, maybe in 1986-87?), and it was clear from looking at my class in contrast to prior classes that they were doing something different, but it was hard to tell what. The puzzling thing was that (a) there were a lot more women but (b) men and women in the more-female classes were both different (not particularly less impressive, but less of the classic MIT personality) from the (mostly men) in prior classes, so it didn’t look as if standards had been unilaterally changed for women only.

    I never figured it out at the time, but I recently ran into a professor there who had been at MIT at the time, and had been involved with the decision. Apparently the administration had been planning to start an affirmative-action program that would have let women in with lower test scores than, and the faculty threw a collective fit and nixed the idea. Instead, they raised their standards on the verbal part of the SATs, which they previously hadn’t considered much at all. The result was a much more gender-balanced class, and the professor I talked to said that they were generally quite happy with the change in the student body.

    My facts here come from gossip — if there are any MIT insiders with a more accurate version of the story, I’d be very interested.

  62. 61
    NineShift says:

    There’s 2 million smart boys missing from college right now.
    And boys get worse grades than girls, even when they are admitted to college on equal admissions standards.

    And yes, there are significant neurological and hormonal differences between boys and girls.

    And yes, schools are not helping boys.
    We’ll have a website up in 2006 on SmartBoysBadGrades devoted to this issue. And a report out on March 8 on the solution.

  63. 62
    Doctor Science says:

    Warning: Bad Statistics

    The numbers in the table above don’t make sense. In the years this study reports, 57% of US undergrads were women. That doesn’t square with the “all students” line unless the proportion of students with family incomes above $30K is minute. (Also, I cannot find the article Rachel cites at the Chronicle of Higher Education website.)

    My figures come from this report:
    Gender Differences in Participation & Completion of Undergraduate Education and How They Have Changed Over Time which I am still looking through.

    Here is a summary of the educational gender gap (which I’m now going to call the EGG, because typing the whole thing is boring) from that report, by income and year:

    Percent of US undergrads who were women
    Income level 1989″“90 1995″“96 1999″“2000
    Low income 59.3 60.2 60.2
    Middle low income 56.3 56.5 56.3
    Middle high income 55.7 55.7 56.0
    High income 50.9 54.5 53.4
    All students 55.3 56.8 56.3

    (see the table at my blog if this isn’t clear)

    Note: the Standard Errors for the 95-96 and 99-00 figures are 5 to 10 times what they are for 89-90 (sample size), so be careful what kind of trend conclusions you draw.

    I have not yet found statistics about the EGG by race *and* income, so I cannot answer the question: “Is there an EGG for medium-to-high-income white students?” The fact that there is still an EGG for high-income students (who are overwhelmingly white & Asian) strongly suggests that the EGG is not just about race & income, but affects well-off white boys too, though to a lesser degree.

    My personal guess about the gender-specific component of the EGG is summarized by the title of this book by Mariah Burton Nelson: The Stronger Women Get, the More Men Love Football. IMHO is it not possible for the average US boy to do as well academically as the average US girl, so long as he spends a great deal of his time, energy, and ambition on sports.

  64. 63
    Doctor Science says:

    arrg, didn’t close the link to my blog properly. Can you do it? *facepalms*

    [No prob. Thanks for posting the info. --Amp]

  65. 64
    Doctor Science says:

    Fact-checking Guerian:

    The majority of National Merit scholarships, as well as college academic scholarships, go to girls and young women.

    I have not been able to find current info on the gender balance of National Merit Scholars. However, in the early 90s only 40% of National Merit Scholars were female.

    Does any dropping by here have any more recent information?

  66. 65
    Bacca says:

    Wanted to chime in here: as one of those girls with ADD who went undiagnosed all the way through my school career, this bullshit makes me furious. There are already plenty of studies showing that boys receive more attention and special treatment in the classroom than girls. I don’t think adjusting the education system to *increase* their privilege is an answer.

    Girls are not naturally more suited to sitting still and being quiet. They just get punished more severely with social disapproval than boys do for acting out. I feel actual hate towards people who promote this kind of spurious reasoning about gender stereotypes which was a huge contributory factor in my not being diagnosed and all the concomitant suffering, which was really immense– untreated ADD in girls is also very likely to be comorbid with depression.

    Also, one thing I have never, ever understood is how the “neurological differences” BS is even intellectually interesting. I mean, it’s not, and I’m afraid a bit of a rant follows:

    There are differences: it is largely impossible to tell if they are innate or social, except that nature and magnitude of the differences shifts across time and culture, so whatever, I know where my money would go, and certainly no one with science smarts can make any definitive claims about what’s “innate”. But that is NOT THE POINT. The point is, who the hell actually cares except for a handful of whiny freaked out conservatives? And what does it say about them that they care?
    The differences are minute compared to the variation across individuals in the population, and obsessing about them is really quite offensive to those of us who don’t fit the stereotypes. I mean, just because I have been known to objectify my sex partners and sometimes prioritise sex over affection and am good at maths and rarely enjoy long phone calls, and, oh yeah, really really HATE being forced to sit still and listen to boring tedious teachers who are less smart than me, does not in any way make me masculine. I have girl parts. I love my girl parts. And I am not some kind of rare, statistical freak. Even in the unlikely instance that there were very strong innate differences, there would still be many, many women out there who were smarter, (or less sympathetic, or more athletic, or whatever the anti-stereotype of the day might be), than the average man. Harping on about the differences makes these women feel like there is some kind of innate conflict between their femininity and their intelligence, and thereby of course reinforces the differences, (as faced with a false choice, some women will choose to be “feminine” and dumb) as well as making the women in question unhappy. Which, is, of course, the reason that conservatives obsess about this BS in the first place; there is no useful informational content in all this speculation about gender difference but it does serve as an excellent tool of social control.

    PS Nice blog, Amp. Thanks for writing it.

  67. 66
    RonF says:

    LizardBreath writes:

    but less of the classic MIT personality) from the (mostly men) in prior classes

    Ah, we all carry the mark of Cain to greater or lesser degree, don’t we?

  68. 67
    RonF says:

    LizardBreath, that explanation actually makes sense. By increasing the weight for the verbal score without lowering the math requirement, you ensure that the class can all handle the curricula while selecting for more women.

    It was interesting to go to a school that didn’t have to give a shit about any Federal rules, but used that ability in a positive fashion. I obviously didn’t meet too many women on campus; one of the guys at my fraternity house distinguished himself by having a co-ed as his girlfriend. It wasn’t remarkable in any negative connotation; there just weren’t that many of them, and some of them had enough of the “classic MIT personality” to make them less than desirable dating potential.

    I do admit that it was a bit of a shock, after 12 years of formal schooling, to meet with girls who were as good as I was in science and math. I found it a little intimidating at first, but I grew intrigued.

    The professor that had the most lasting impression on my life at MIT was female. She didn’ t teach a technical course; she was one of the few Humanities professors. Humanties courses were all those taught with books with no equations; I had to take 2 in my 4 years there. She was teaching a course in Fantasy and Science Fiction. We had to read two books a week and write 2 or 3 pages on each, and then we discussed them in class. After a week, she walked into the room after we were all there. She said, “I have your papers here.” Then she heaved them across the room. She then excoriated our writing skills, skewering our illusion that long sentences with big words represented great writing skills. She said, “I’m turning the next 6 weeks into a writing course; you’re all going to learn to write declarative sentences.”

    She proceeded to do exactly that, and I learned to write. Thirty-0ne years later, I use almost none of the technical knowledge I learned at MIT. But no one I work with can write and explain technical issues to technical and non-technical people better than me. And that’s why I get paid what I get paid. She taught me more than just about any professor there (except a few of the Bio faculty).

  69. 68
    Rachel S says:

    I guess I need to defend the honor of the stats–Doctor Science is using a different data set, but the data I gave for the graph can be found at It has the 1995-2000 data. I’m assuming Brownstein got the data from there. There does seem to be a recent small gap between middle income White male and females as of late, but this doesn’t negate the point that the gender gap is much more dramatic for lower income groups, and all racial minorities except Asians. I stand by my argument that the primary focus shouldn’t be on middle income white guys–they are doing fine. Plus, I promise I wouldn’t give you bogus data. LOL!! I wouldn’t want to make you or myself look bad. LOL!!

    And last but not least, your earlier points about men earning more are very valid–so even if there are going to college the earnings gap is still there.

  70. 69
    Rachel S says:

    The link didn’t work (gotta get html coding down). Here’s the link http://www.acenet.edu/bookstore/pdf/2003_gender_equity_update.pdf

  71. 70
    mousehounde says:

    RonF said in response to LizardBreath :

    Ah, we all carry the mark of Cain to greater or lesser degree, don’t we?

    I googled this to understand what you meant. I still don’t understand. It seems to be a religious reference. Could you explain how this is relevant to the discussion?

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  73. 71
    Amy P says:

    mousehounde,
    “Mark of Cain” is a standard expression meaning an indelible identifying mark on someone. It has negative overtones, because Cain was the first murderer in the Bible. Hence, Ron F is suggesting that being an MIT person leaves a permanent negative mark on the personality. (The idiom is actually inexact, because in Genesis the mark was given to Cain for his own protection.)

  74. 72
    Debi says:

    You obviously don’t have a boy with a single mom.

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  77. 73
    ann duckworth says:

    While both boys and girls begin life equal, they are then raised from birth to be different. The boys are treated not by accident to increasingly more aggressive treatment to make them tough. They are not given as much mental, emotional, social support for fear of coddling them. Most importantly and not by accident but by intent, they are increasingly given love, honor, and respect, the essentials of self-worth, based on measures of achievement, power, status, etc. This makes boys and later men much more competitive (by design) for this makes them try much harder in order to achieve those feelings of self-worth from peers and society. Those boys or men who do not measure up in some way will not only receive less honor and respect but will receive more aggression from society. This then causes Males who are not achieving in the classroom to begin looking in other areas to generate love, honor, and respect from society. In the information age, all of those areas have led to a large decrease in academic learning and in turn ability to compete in the information age. The higher average stress created by this mistreatment is responsible for greater incidence of ADD, ADHD, and more active behavior in general. Note, nice middle to upper class Males do not have this problem. Women are now surging ahead.

    Since girls and later women are not supposed to be strong this allows for much mental, emotional, social support from an early age along with much love honor and respect simply for being girls. In the information age, this support not only allows girls to mature faster but to do better in academics. This support continues through adulthood and now is showing up in economic advantages for women.

    1. I fear the use of Male classrooms with more discipline and more time on task will only lead to more stern and even more harsh treatment and more stereotyping of Males to perform more physical or menial labor to match the growing caste system being portrayed in the media against Males today. These attempts to focus on genetics, learning differences, male role models, or cater to more activity or instruction are destined to failure. The problem is sociological from day one. It is differential treatment Males experience that is creating this problem. Please read Learning Theory and other related articles on this subject.
    Complete theory to all

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