Michael Kimmel on "The Boy Crisis" and Anti-Male Ideology

Via Dylan at Handle The Truth, a fantastic article by one of my favorite writers, Michael Kimmel, regarding the so-called “Boy Crisis” in education.

After outlining the case for the Boy Crisis, Kimmel effectively goes over the reasons for doubting the “crisis” exists: That historically, panics over boys in crisis surface again and again (and women – whether in the form of female schoolteachers or of feminists – are always to blame); that wage gaps would lead us to expect boys to have less incentive to stay in school (someone who can earn $20,000 a year out of high school is a good deal more likely to drop out than someone who can earn $14,000);1 how “No Child Left Behind” has hurt boys who would benefit from gym and sports programs, and from counseling; and that far from being a universal among boys, the “boy crisis” is virtually all among boys from lower-income families and boys of color. Kimmell writes:

Why don’t the critics acknowledge these race and class differences? To many who now propose to “rescue” boys, such differences are incidental because, in their eyes, all boys are the same aggressive, competitive, rambunctious little devils. They operate from a facile, and inaccurate, essentialist dichotomy between males and females. Boys must be allowed to be boys—so that they grow up to be men.

This facile biologism leads the critics to propose some distasteful remedies to allow these testosterone-juiced boys to express themselves. Gurian, for example, celebrates all masculine rites of passage, “like military boot camp, fraternity hazings, graduation day, and bar mitzvah” as “essential parts of every boy’s life.” He also suggests reviving corporal punishment, both at home and at school…

I was one of the boys who failed all the “masculinity” tests; I was gentle, overly sensitive, and could no more catch a ball than I could catch a jumbo jet plane. I can’t imagine how I would have survived the kind of schooling Gurian wants to shove boys into. But because wimpy boys don’t fit into the biological-essentialist worldview, their needs are never considered by the boy-crisis mavens. Their allegedly “pro-boy” reforms are really only about helping the jocky boys; all other boys can go hang.2

A crisis among lower-income and non-white boys is still a crisis, of course.3 But to talk as if an inability to do well in contemporary schools comes with the Y chromosome is deceptive. There already are many schools in the USA, right now, in which boys do just as well as girls. Boy crisis mavens tend to talk about how boy brains can’t learn if they’re expected to sit still in class, to read novels, to do homework, and to follow rules; but in schools where boys excel, boys are expected to do all those things.

Nonetheless, it’s a fact that among some groups, boys are doing worse than girls. Why is this? Kimmel argues that a false and damaging conception of masculinity harms boys by dissuading them from putting as much effort as they should into their schoolwork, even as it encourages them to be overconfident about their abilities.

Kimmel has angry words for the anti-male ideology underlying the “boy crisis” panic:

It is not the school experience that “feminizes” boys, but rather the ideology of traditional masculinity that keeps boys from wanting to succeed. “The work you do here is girls’ work,” one boy commented to a researcher. “It’s not real work.”

“Real work” involves a confrontation — not with feminist women, whose sensible educational reforms have opened countless doors to women while closing off none to men — but with an anachronistic definition of masculinity that stresses many of its vices (anti-intellectualism, entitlement, arrogance, and aggression) but few of its virtues. When the self-appointed rescuers demand that we accept boys’ “hardwiring,” could they possibly have such a monochromatic and relentlessly negative view of male biology? Maybe they do. But simply shrugging our collective shoulders in resignation and saying “boys will be boys” sets the bar much too low. Boys can do better than that. They can be men.

Perhaps the real “male bashers” are those who promise to rescue boys from the clutches of feminists. Are males not also “hardwired” toward compassion, nurturing, and love? If not, would we allow males to be parents? It is never a biological question of whether we are “hardwired” for some behavior; it is, rather, a political question of which “hardwiring” we choose to respect and which we choose to challenge.

The antifeminist pundits have an unyielding view of men as irredeemably awful. We men, they tell us, are savage, lustful, violent, sexually omnivorous, rapacious, predatory animals, who will rape, murder, pillage, and leave towels on the bathroom floor—unless women fulfill their biological duty and constrain us. “Every society must be wary of the unattached male, for he is universally the cause of numerous ills,” writes David Popenoe. Young males, says Charles Murray, are “essentially barbarians for whom marriage . . . is an indispensable civilizing force.”

By contrast, feminists believe that men are better than that, that boys can be raised to be competent and compassionate, ambitious and attentive, and that men are fully capable of love, care, and nurturance. It’s feminists who are really “pro-boy” and “pro-father”—who want young boys and their fathers to expand the definition of masculinity and to become fully human.

I highly recommend reading the whole thing.

  1. Actually, Kimmel barely touches on the point about the wage gap, but it’s a hobby horse of mine so I’m including it on this list. []
  2. And even the “help” offered jock boys is dubious; such “help” could be accurately termed “the soft bigotry of low expectations.” []
  3. Let’s not forget, however, that the same crisis exists among lower-income and non-white girls, whose academic achievement is considerably lower than that of their middle-class white counterparts. The real crisis owes much more to class and race inequalities than to sex. []
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151 Responses to Michael Kimmel on "The Boy Crisis" and Anti-Male Ideology

  1. 101
    Robert says:

    Find me a reference to anything that can demonstrate this broad correlation that also accounts for expectations.

    The observed behavior of millions of students, parents and academics is good enough for me. YMMV.

    I don’t have the foggiest idea what “the ratchet effect” means in the context we’re talking about.

    The ratchet effect is what I’ve been talking about in this post – how preferences on a criteria unrelated to academic ability damage the people who get them by mis-sorting them into schools that aren’t good matches.

    For data on the not at all problematic collegiate performances by preferred groups at elite universities…

    Uh huh.

    It is, actually, true that at the very top tier of universities – although how you know to call them “elite” given your stated position on the question of assessing collegiate quality – preferred groups do OK. (Probably because most of the students at the very highest tier would be there anyway.) But we’re talking about a literal handful of schools. The statistics for preferred groups in the entire system are sick-making to anyone who cares about the status of minority groups in our society. If you seriously don’t know that, then I don’t know what to tell you.

    Until I see documentation to the contrary, I will go with the research I have seen on AA, which shows that it works very well at ameliorating discrimination without ill effects, and without decreasing standards.

    I’m not sure what your quote from Shape of the River is supposed to indicate; of course you can find criteria other than GPA and test scores to predict success. Has anyone denied that?

    As for the documentation, here you go. It’s a pretty comprehensive review of affirmative action in university admissions.

  2. 102
    Donna Darko says:

    Mandolin, I wanted Robert to be banned for his racism, not you.

    Robert, so you had high SATs, a “killer” essay but subpar grades for the first college you went to. You can’t conflate your experience with experiences of all nonwhites especially since the reverse is usually true. Standardized tests are biased towards whites and the upper classes so they are usually admitted with better grades than scores and probably a “killer” essay and “killer” recommendations. I find it obnoxious and racist for you to say that because you didn’t measure up at your first college and dropped out you can speak for all people of color at elite colleges! If you had a higher intelligence than performance, it was due to work habits not innate intelligence. White men continuously re-center themselves in feminist and nonwhite discussions. Furthermore, this post is about the “boy crisis” in schools which mostly affects poor, Latino and black boys and white men have re-centered themselves and made a mostly class and race discussion about themselves.

    Please indulge me if I use myself as an example. I got into a very decent liberal arts school – not Harvard, but a damn fine school. My admission was a narrow squeak – I didn’t really have the grades for it, but my SATs were high and I wrote a killer essay. I also got into some other schools, but the school I chose to attend was the best school I could get into. Obviously there are exceptions, but generally speaking, the academic reputation and attainment of a school are primary factors in student decisions. We go to the best place we can get into, even when other considerations loom; I turned down a full-ride scholarship at a less prestigious school. I also applied to a school even better than the one I attended – let’s call it Stanford – but didn’t get in there. If I had gotten into Stanford, I would definitely have attended.

    At the school where I barely got in, I earned a C+/B- average, in not particularly challenging coursework, relative to the institution’s offerings, over the two years that I attended before dropping out – despite a high intelligence and a pretty good dollop of human capital, too. I did have a good time, though, and learned a fair amount of things while just getting by. I had a suboptimal match with my institution, but it was (barely) within my capabilities to perform acceptably. (I left for other reasons, and later attended a school which was a better match for my intellectual capacity, and did very well there.)

    If I was a member of one of the racial groups which typically receive preferential admission, the odds are very good that I would have gotten into Stanford, too. And I would have gone. And I would have failed egregiously, instead of scraping by for a couple of years and at least learning some stuff, because I was not smart enough (oops, I mean, I didn’t have enough social capital) to go to Stanford. My BEST match was probably the school that offered the scholarship. If I’d attended there, odds are good I would have gotten a 3.6 and graduated in four years.

  3. 103
    Donna Darko says:

    the “boy crisis” is virtually all among boys from lower-income families and boys of color. –original post

    Yet at least 55 of the 100 comments here are from white men.

  4. 104
    Donna Darko says:

    If white men want to address the part of the post that concerns them, they should discuss the anti-maleness behind the “boy crisis” panic. They should discuss how they can dismantle traditional masculinity that makes school girl’s work not real work. Anti-maleness is believing boys cannot sit still with the girls and have to run around the playground to work off testosterone or only partake in “hands-on” learning. Because that’s what real men do.

    It is not the school experience that “feminizes” boys, but rather the ideology of traditional masculinity that keeps boys from wanting to succeed. “The work you do here is girls’ work,” one boy commented to a researcher. “It’s not real work.”

    “Real work” involves a confrontation — not with feminist women, whose sensible educational reforms have opened countless doors to women while closing off none to men — but with an anachronistic definition of masculinity that stresses many of its vices (anti-intellectualism, entitlement, arrogance, and aggression) but few of its virtues. When the self-appointed rescuers demand that we accept boys’ “hardwiring,” could they possibly have such a monochromatic and relentlessly negative view of male biology? Maybe they do. But simply shrugging our collective shoulders in resignation and saying “boys will be boys” sets the bar much too low. Boys can do better than that. They can be men.

    Perhaps the real “male bashers” are those who promise to rescue boys from the clutches of feminists. Are males not also “hardwired” toward compassion, nurturing, and love? If not, would we allow males to be parents?

  5. 105
    Charles S says:

    Robert,

    Your comprehensive review is a non-peer reviewed position piece from the Cato Institute, arguing that AA should be replaced with school vouchers at the pre-college level. It cites heavily from newspaper articles and non-peer reviewed publications from other right wing think tanks. It attempts to use the rachet effect at selective schools (representing < 10% of all black and hispanic students, ~50% of whom (according to the Cato Institute writer) would still be in selective schools without AA) to explain the relatively poor performance of black and hispanic students at non-selective schools. Removing AA would have an effect of only a few % at most on performance at non-selective schools. This is shoddy and biased work.

    Intriguingly, it also relies heavily on the idea of stereotype threat.

    [Edited to fix the missing half of the comment]

  6. 106
    Robert says:

    Biased, no doubt – Cato certainly has a point of view, as do the previous works and authors cited here. Shoddy? I’d need something other than your unvarnished word for that. It’s a review piece designed to present a point of view, not a peer-reviewed journal article, so critiquing it for including references to news sources for relevant events of the day seems odd.

    I find it obnoxious and racist for you to say that because you didn’t measure up at your first college and dropped out you can speak for all people of color at elite colleges!

    Obnoxious I’ll grant you. Racist? Once again, wherein?

    I’m not claiming to “speak for” anyone. I shared my own experience because I am one of the people whose admission decision took place in the margin under discussion, and it’s thus a good case in point for the principle under discussion.

    Yet at least 55 of the 100 comments here are from white men.

    And the rest are from women. If it’s wrong for white men to chime in on the boy crisis because we’re only part of it instead of the main event, where exactly does the relevance of distaff opinion come in? “Shut up, you marginally relevant contributors! You’re shutting out the discourse from the people who are even less related to the primary issue than you are!”

    They should discuss how they can dismantle traditional masculinity that makes school girl’s work not real work. Anti-maleness is believing boys cannot sit still with the girls and have to run around the playground to work off testosterone or only partake in “hands-on” learning.

    Where to begin.

    “Anti-maleness” is being opposed to males. Holding a particular opinion or set of observations about how boys learn is not “anti-male” unless that opinion is “I hate boys and I wish they would stop trying to learn”, or the like.

    There are boys (and girls) who can’t sit still and who learn best from hands-on experiences. What’s wrong with acknowledging that, and with ensuring that kids get the pedagogy that works best for them? If it turns out that boys learn best by hanging upside down in a dark closet while the instructor drums the lesson in Morse Code, great. There is a big variety of optimal learning styles out there. Any gendered differentiation of those styles is morally certain to fall into the category of “10% of boys are active learners, while 5% of girls are. 7% of boys are auditory learners, while 9% of girls are. 14% of boys are…” In other words, you need the variety of pedagogical styles because both boys and girls have a variety of pedagogical needs.

    What is anti-male, in my view, is setting up a theoretical construction of what maleness ought to be, and then ignoring or punishing any boy who fails to conform. That’s wrong when the jock culture tortures sensitive and gentle boys, and it’s wrong when feminist educators get pissed off at boys for not wanting to sit quietly with the girls and read.

    Because that[being physically active and doing hands-on activities]‘s what real men do.

    Well? Yeah, it is. It’s what “real women” do, too. And then some real men and some real women don’t do that. Maybe patriarchal conditioning reduces women’s activity in these spheres and artificially promotes men’s – but that’s a problem with patriarchy, not a problem with activity and experiential learning.

  7. 107
    Ampersand says:

    Robert wrote:

    But the problem is, the racially preferred student is now enrolled in a program aimed at students a bit smarter than he is, and surrounded by students who are a bit better prepared. That has obvious consequences. Those consequences are vividly clear in the statistics for dropouts and lengthy completion times for racial groups which receive preferences in admission.

    Then, in a later post:

    As for the documentation, here you go. It’s a pretty comprehensive review of affirmative action in university admissions.

    Before I answer this, I want to make sure that I’m looking at the right thing. Is the section entitled “dropout rates,” beginning on page 6, the empirical documentation for your claim that affirmative action causes an increase in minority dropout rates?

  8. 108
    Ampersand says:

    Donna, I’m really glad you’re posting here. But your claims about Robert’s motivation are flat-out wrong; nothing in what he’s written here indicates that he thinks he would have gotten into Stanford if only AA didn’t exist. From what he’s written here, Robert clearly thinks he shouldn’t have gotten into Stanford.

    With all due respect, I wish you’d continue attacking Robert’s arguments (which you’ve been doing a great job at!) but stop speculating about his motivations, as much as possible.

  9. 109
    Robert says:

    Racial preferences in admission decisions, not affirmative action.

    The Cato report isn’t where I first heard of the idea, but the research (Light and Strayer) they present seems to support the concept. (Audrey Light and Wayne Strayer, “Determinants of College Completion: School Quality or Student Ability?” Journal of Human Resources 35 (2000): 315.

    In other words, if you disprove Light and Strayer you don’t necessarily disprove what I’m saying, but you would put a ding in it. I looked online, but unless you have a JSTOR subscription it isn’t available.

  10. 110
    Ampersand says:

    Racial preferences in admission decisions, not affirmative action.

    What’s the distinction, in your view? (I’d call the former a subset of the latter.)

  11. 111
    Robert says:

    Racial preferences can be a component of affirmative action, but you can have an AA program without them. Advertising in minority publications, creation of minority student support offices, building networks of minority alums and hooking them into the recruiting and admissions office, etc.

    “Weak” AA (no preferences) is generally a good thing and I support it. Thus the perhaps-unnecessary qualification that my opposition extends only to racial preferences in admission.

  12. 112
    Kaethe says:

    The observed behavior of millions of students, parents and academics is good enough for me. YMMV.

    Well, see what you’re offering as a “reference” is your opinion of the observed…..and that is not good enough for me.

    although how you know to call them “elite” given your stated position on the question of assessing collegiate quality

    They are elite schools because the reject a greater percentage of applicants than others. They are elite schools because they take in the children of the elite. They are elite schools because they say they are. They are elite schools because our culture says so.

    The statistics for preferred groups in the entire system are sick-making to anyone who cares about the status of minority groups in our society.

    I suggest, again, that you point to any such statistics.

    I’m not sure what your quote from Shape of the River is supposed to indicate; of course you can find criteria other than GPA and test scores to predict success. Has anyone denied that?

    My quote was not from Shape of the River, my quote was from JAMA. Your article from the Cato Institute does in fact deny that, it states that the relative position of one’s test score to the rest of one’s classmates is the single greatest indicator of success, in this case, graduating. The article was rather obviously slanted opinion piece. It was neither comprehensive, nor a useful review. When something A) contradicts the majority of reviewed research and B) is used as an argument for dismantling something that seems to be working very well and C) is just patronizing as hell about the people it supposedly is trying to help, then I feel confident calling it rubbish.

    when feminist educators get pissed off at boys for not wanting to sit quietly with the girls and read.

    Which strawfeminist educators are these who believe that all girls sit quietly and all boys cannot? In your made up examples of pedagogical styles that work best you concede that the differences between the sexes would be significantly less than the differences within either sex. So, either you realize that there are boys AND girls who like to run around at recess, or you assume that ALL boys want to run around and ALL girls want to sit quietly and read. Please make up your mind.

    Am I the only one who read that article and thought, poor Mr. President, it must have been so damaging to his self-esteem to attend Harvard and Yale, all the while knowing that the only reason he got in wasn’t his intelligence or preparedness, but racial preferences? Oh, no, that wasn’t true, because AA harms minors by putting them amid their betters, but take a wealthy WASP and put him in a school over his head, and no one assumes he got in on racial preferences.

  13. 113
    Ampersand says:

    I think I should rephrase my question. I wrote:

    Is the section entitled “dropout rates,” beginning on page 6, the empirical documentation for your claim that affirmative action racial preferences in admission decisisons cause an increase in minority dropout rates?

    I’m not asking if that’s all the empirical documentation that could possibly exist in the world; I’m asking if you agree that’s the empirical documentation that you’ve provided in this thread to back up your “ratchet effect” claim, or if there’s some other empirical documentation that you’ve provided in this thread which you think I have to address?

  14. 114
    mandolin says:

    Hi, Donna – sorry I misunderstood.

    Hi, Robert – sorry I misunderstood you, also.

    I guess I don’t understand why you chose to phrase things the way you did, but I’ll take your word that you don’t believe there is a variation between the average intelligence of socially constructed races.

  15. 115
    Brandon Berg says:

    Kaethe:

    Which strawfeminist educators are these who believe that all girls sit quietly and all boys cannot?

    Speaking of straw, Robert never said anything about “all boys” or “all girls.” Differences in averages between groups are perfectly consistent with considerable overlap.

    In your made up examples of pedagogical styles that work best you concede that the differences between the sexes would be significantly less than the differences within either sex.

    What does that mean, exactly? It seems to me that differences between sexes are generally expressed as scalars (e.g., the difference between the average male height and average female height is 6″), while differences within sexes are expressed in terms of distributions (e.g., height is normally distributed among men with mean of 5’10″ and a standard deviation of 2″). I don’t see how you can meaningfully say that one is greater than the other.

  16. 116
    Robert says:

    No, that’s all I’ve pointed to in this thread.

  17. 117
    RonF says:

    Any student admitted through the need-blind model at any of the aforementioned elite schools have their tuition and room and board paid by these schools’ endowments.

    Ah, Donna, if only that were true. No, once admitted to one of these schools, you file go through the same financial aid process as you do at any other school. The school decides what you can pay. If that amount is less than what they charge for tuition/fees/room and board, they make up the difference in grants and loans.

    They are elite schools because the reject a greater percentage of applicants than others. They are elite schools because they take in the children of the elite. They are elite schools because they say they are. They are elite schools because our culture says so.

    They are elite schools because they take in the best and the brightest of all the young people every year who apply to college and both have and use resources other schools don’t have to give students educational opportunities they can’t get elsewhere.

  18. 118
    Kaethe says:

    Brandon Berg,

    That’s wrong when the jock culture tortures sensitive and gentle boys, and it’s wrong when feminist educators get pissed off at boys for not wanting to sit quietly with the girls and read.

    Since Robert did not specify who these feminist educators are, or that they only get pissed off at some boys who don’t sit quietly with some girls, it is not stretching things to read this as construing all boys and all girls. If he meant something different, he can explain.

    Robert wrote

    Any gendered differentiation of those styles is morally certain to fall into the category of “10% of boys are active learners, while 5% of girls are. 7% of boys are auditory learners, while 9% of girls are. 14% of boys are…” In other words, you need the variety of pedagogical styles because both boys and girls have a variety of pedagogical needs.

    I assume that the statement in quotations is not an exact quote from any source, but a statement of what sort of numbers one might see. To use the first example, if 10% of boys are active learners then 90% of boys are not. Likewise, if 5% of the girls are also active learners, then 95% of the girls are not. There is a difference in learning style within the set of girls or boys, while the difference between the two sets is small. Twice as many of our hypothetical boys as girls are active learners, but they are still a small group against the much larger group of non-active learners. So, what I’m wondering here is, what is the point? Unless Robert is specifying that only poor and/or minority boys are in these small groups who need different pedagogical methods, then what is the argument? Am I misreading this? Was it meant only as a statement that there are more ways of teaching than quietly reading, in which case, I don’t think anyone would disagree. But the feminist educators statement seemed to counter this idea, showing a scenario in which feminist educators are doing harm to all boys by demanding that only one form of teaching be used.

    I may be reading this wrong. Certainly, I am confused by this. Feel free to show me where I’m wrong, if I am.

    RonF, if you say that the elite schools are elite because they take in the best and brightest, what does that mean? Quantifying “best and brightest ” is a bitch, as this lengthy discussion of admissions shows. Is it true just because they say it is? And if that is true, which demonstrably, it isn’t, see the above-cited discussions of legacy admissions and athletic preferences in elite schools, but if it were true then wouldn’t preferences of any sort be unnecessary? Because one would expect there to be proportionately the same number of “best and brightest” in every race, in every geographical area, in every economic group. Which would bring us back to the supposition that elite schools are meritocratic, yet, they are not. It’s a vacuous circle.

    From what I’ve seen, once adjustments are made for starting advantages, graduates of elite schools don’t do better than graduates of other schools in terms of earnings (Krueger 1999) or happiness (Lowenstein or Gilbert on affective forecasting). I don’t discount the possibility of opportunities on offer that aren’t available elsewhere, but other than networking and/or graduate school recommendations, I haven’t heard what they might be. There’s prestige out the wazoo, I know, but what evidence that they are better?

  19. 119
    Robert says:

    Well, see what you’re offering as a “reference” is your opinion of the observed…..and that is not good enough for me.

    OK…

    They are elite schools because the reject a greater percentage of applicants than others. They are elite schools because they take in the children of the elite. They are elite schools because they say they are. They are elite schools because our culture says so.

    So it isn’t “my opinion”. It’s the collective opinion of our culture, coupled with some metrics.

    I suggest, again, that you point to any such statistics.

    Sure. A lot of the good stuff is locked up behind proprietary interfaces, but there are some public statistics out there. Here’s an article reporting on a UCLA national study of completion rates and race. From that article:

    The highest four-year completion rates are enjoyed by Asian-American (38.8 percent) and White (37.6 percent) students, while the lowest rates occur among underrepresented groups: Mexican Americans (21.3 percent), American Indians (21.6 percent), Puerto Rican Americans (23.6 percent) and Blacks (28.9 percent).

    The Census Bureau says that about 2.3 million black people are in college right now. That means around 230,000 additional black people who are currently in college right now aren’t going to graduate, compared to whites and Asians. The situation is worse for Hispanics and indigenous Americans.

    In terms of things like class standing and GPA, I don’t have multiracial statistics but black students overall have GPAs about 2/3 of a point lower than non-minority students. Those who graduate finish at an average of the 25th percentile or below in terms of class standing. (Those stats are in the Cato report I linked. They are ultimately sourced to Christopher Jencks and Meredith Phillips, eds., The Black-White Test Score Gap (Washington: Brookings
    Institution Press, 1998) Stephan Thernstrom and Abigail Thernstrom,
    “Reflections on the Shape of the River,” UCLA Law Review 46 (1999). Sorry not to have something online, but the Thernstrom book should be widely available.

    My quote was not from Shape of the River, my quote was from JAMA. Your article from the Cato Institute does in fact deny that, it states that the relative position of one’s test score to the rest of one’s classmates is the single greatest indicator of success, in this case, graduating.

    My apologies for the misreading of the titles.

    Stating that something is the best indicator of something is not the same thing as saying that there are no other indicators. You are asserting that authors have said something which in fact they have not said.

    So, either you realize that there are boys AND girls who like to run around at recess, or you assume that ALL boys want to run around and ALL girls want to sit quietly and read. Please make up your mind.

    I believe that my writing was exceptionally clear on this point. Both genders respond to a variety of pedagogical styles; there may be differentiations in the frequency of preference for particular styles (I wouldn’t be surprised).

    but take a wealthy WASP and put him in a school over his head, and no one assumes he got in on racial preferences.

    In fact, I specifically noted that legacy admits are subject to the exact same phenomenon for the exact same reasons. (Comment 84, paragraph 5.)

  20. 120
    Robert says:

    Hi, Robert – sorry I misunderstood you, also.

    No worries.

    I guess I don’t understand why you chose to phrase things the way you did, but I’ll take your word that you don’t believe there is a variation between the average intelligence of socially constructed races.

    There are either differences in average intelligence between races, or there are not.

    If what we are calling “intelligence” is what is measured on an intelligence test, then there are definitely differences. This is not an arguable point, although that does not stop a fair number of people from arguing it. (Often people with very high scores on intelligence tests, too.)

    Do those differences measure real variation in human intellectual potential? I don’t know. I have never noticed any such difference in my own interactions with people of various races, but those interactions seldom involve tests of analytical capability or cognitive speed. I certainly hope not. It does seem clear that things like nutrition, environment, childhood learning opportunities, parental support and the like are far more important in determining any particular child’s intellectual development than any biological constraint.

  21. 121
    Donna Darko says:

    Robert claimed students do not apply to elite colleges because they can’t afford it. In reality, all the Ivy League schools and other elite schools have a need-blind policy that admits anyone without knowledge of their financial situation. Once admitted, a package is worked out that may include a 20-hour a week job, endowment gifts, grants, loans. The result is anyone can attend the most elite schools because of their greater endowments. Poor students may get high-paying corporate jobs, etc. after graduation to pay off a loan but the point is anyone can attend and graduate from a Ivy League school regardless of their financial situation.

    * ensure that the material resources are made available as needed to ensure that sufficient aid money to students is available so that nobody is settling for State solely because they can’t afford Harvard. (Note: to students, not to institutions. The current policy of giving money straight to the schools is fostering an absolutely awful inflationary policy for college education. For complex but uncontroversially existential economic reasons, it just works far better to put the money straight into the student’s hands, even if it’s a voucher rather than cash.) This one is easy: we tax people and give the money to other people. If we do this intelligently, people won’t mind too much, particularly if the money comes from some other part of the education leviathan.

    68 out of 118 comments now by white men none of which address the original post that said the “boy crisis” is about poor, Latino and black boys and that it is anti-male because it underestimates boys. There are no straw feminists in the “boy crisis” debate because it is conservatives who push for sex-segregated public schools. They reinforce traditional masculinity that says “boys will be boys.” It is not feminists who push this idea but those who support sex-segregated public schools. In fact, “boy crisis” panics blame

    women whether in the form of female schoolteachers or of feminists – are always to blame

    The “boy crisis” panic also claims

    “No Child Left Behind” has hurt boys who would benefit from gym and sports programs, and from counseling

    and

    that far from being a universal among boys, the “boy crisis” is virtually all among boys from lower-income families and boys of color.

    We mostly have comments from white men that focus on themselves/anti-affirmative action instead of the original post about 1) about poor and minority boys in public schools and 2) the problem of anti-maleness/pro-traditional masculinity in public schools.

  22. 122
    Kaethe says:

    So it isn’t “my opinion”. It’s the collective opinion of our culture, coupled with some metrics.

    That yours is a commonly-held opinion doesn’t make it somehow factual.

    The article on college completion looks at one year’s freshpeople. Upthread it has been pointed out that college-completion rates are increasing for everyone. I don’t think there’s argument here that rates are lower for many minorities and for the poor. This article points out that completion rates are higher at all private institutions than at all public ones, and that students with the highest GPAs and SATs were more likely to complete in 6 years than students with average GPAs and SATs. Nothing here supports the idea that AA is somehow worse than “racial preferences”, or that getting into a school “above” you is destructive.

    Stating that something is the best indicator of something is not the same thing as saying that there are no other indicators.

    No, it means that the other possible indicators don’t actually work at indicating.

    You’re right. I had forgotten your previous mention of legacies in terms of this.

  23. 123
    RonF says:

    RonF, if you say that the elite schools are elite because they take in the best and brightest,

    A school like MIT is elite because not only because of it’s student body, but what it offers that student body. Your premise is incomplete.

    what does that mean? Quantifying “best and brightest ” is a bitch, as this lengthy discussion of admissions shows.

    It’s difficult, but it’s not impossible. Test scores, grades, class ranks, essays, demonstrated expertise and other factors all taken together work well enough to meet the objectives of the admissions department, which is to select about 1000 students who are the most likely to be able to take maximum advantage of a demanding academic and research-oriented environment, while contributing to the MIT community and the communities that MIT is a part of in a strong, creative and diverse way. As far as happiness or earnings go, that might be an indicator of how things work out after school, but selection for that is not the problem facing college admissions officials for MIT and the rest. How the hell do they measure happiness, anyway?

    Will the process miss some kids who would have done well? Sure. Will it let in a few kids who turn out not to make the grade? Not so much. The fact is that there are more kids qualified to be able to take advantage of a place at MIT than there are places at MIT, so there’s plenty more kids they could have admitted that they just don’t have room for.

    Is it true just because they say it is? And if that is true, which demonstrably, it isn’t, see the above-cited discussions of legacy admissions and athletic preferences in elite schools.

    I can’t answer for preferences for legacies or athletic preferences at other schools; MIT doesn’t have preferences for either. As far as the latter goes, unlike schools like Harvard, etc., the Institute is an NCAA Division III school – and that’s only because there’s no such thing as Division IV. The funny thing is that a very high proportion of the student body there participates in varsity and intermural sports, but they’re there to play, not perform. The Institute doesn’t need to win it’s glories on the playing fields.

    but if it were true then wouldn’t preferences of any sort be unnecessary? Because one would expect there to be proportionately the same number of “best and brightest” in every race, in every geographical area, in every economic group.

    You would expect that. But, a school like MIT admits kids on the basis of accomplishment as well as on aptitude; and the chance for kids to achieve high academic accomplishment is a function in part of the facilities and faculties their schools have. Various factors cause inequities in these, with the result that that some kids who would have been able to fit in just haven’t gained the academic background that would enable them to take advantage of such a college environment. While it’s too late for most of them to play catch-up, some can, and schools like MIT seek such kids out and admit all they can. The Institute also seeks out kids who can make it at MIT but whose environment doesn’t lend itself to holding or pursuing such dreams.

    I’m an example of someone who was admitted with an imbalance in aptitude vs. accomplishment. I had a very high SAT math score, wrote a good essay, and had a strong interview. But I had never had calculus in high school, simply because my high school did not offer it; I was academically disadvantaged relative to my MIT peers. I later asked my old high school teachers about this and was told that there was no one there who was qualified to teach it. I fell 3 months behind and had to cram a semester’s worth of work into the last few weeks or I’d have blown my freshman year. Aptitude wasn’t enough, but fortunately my background in biology and physics was enough to keep me up to speed in those courses so that I could spend the extra time on math and catch up. Some other kid in my position who was weak in biology and physics as well might have flunked out, even though they’d had the aptitude.

  24. 124
    RonF says:

    Robert claimed students do not apply to elite colleges because they can’t afford it. In reality, all the Ivy League schools and other elite schools have a need-blind policy that admits anyone without knowledge of their financial situation.

    Depends on how you define “afford it”. I know a kid that I begged to apply to MIT but whose family decided not to because of the expense. Yes, if he’d have gotten in he’d have gotten financial aid, but his family’s opinion of what they could afford was a lot different than what MIT thought he could afford. So, he went to the University of Illinois. Which, BTW, has an excellent engineering program and I’m sure he’ll benefit greatly thereby.

    There are a lot of people who hear the figures that places like MIT and Harvard charge for tuition and never bother to apply and find out what the final number will be. There are others that refuse to take out any debt to finance their kid’s college career.

  25. 125
    Robert says:

    Kaethe:
    The article on college completion looks at one year’s freshpeople. Upthread it has been pointed out that college-completion rates are increasing for everyone. I don’t think there’s argument here that rates are lower for many minorities and for the poor.

    Then wtf did I have to research statistics to get you to acknowledge the elementary point? (“Gravity doesn’t work.” “Yes it does.” “Prove it.” “OK, here are the results of the field research from the gravity lab at CalTech.” “Well, nobody ever denied that gravity works!”)

    Yes, college completion rates are increasing for everyone. As previously noted, this does not prove or disprove anything. If anything, it indicates a systemic trend that is making college easier for everyone, or a systemic improvement in preparation or counseling or something. It doesn’t bear on a differential performance which persists even as the general rate increases. If 50% of white murderers get the electric chair while 80% of black ones do, and that disparity later shifts to 40% and 70%, that’s not an indication that the racial disparity is fading. It’s an indication that something unrelated is happening while the racial disparity continues operate.

    This article points out that completion rates are higher at all private institutions than at all public ones, and that students with the highest GPAs and SATs were more likely to complete in 6 years than students with average GPAs and SATs. Nothing here supports the idea that AA is somehow worse than “racial preferences”, or that getting into a school “above” you is destructive.

    Well, “the idea that AA is somehow worse than racial preferences” is pretty much an inversion of what’s been explicated, at great length. So I’m not going to chase that crazy fox.

    Low graduation rates, GPAs and class standings are not, as you say, definitive proof that a student-school mismatch is destructive. They merely indicate that there is some problem operating. I believe that a ratchet effect is the simplest and most satisfactory explanation. It is also the explanation that jibes well with the observed data.

    For example, at historically black colleges and universities, where racial preferences obviously do not operate, overall performance by black students is just fine. At the highest end elite schools, where the effects of racial preferences are attenuated (there is no hyper-Harvard to ratchet effect the students at that level; most of the students in the top tier would be there anyway), overall performance by racially preferred students is OK. These results are exactly consistent with a ratchet effect, and inconsistent with alternative explanations (most commonly, systemic racism and/or lack of cultural support for minority students, either in the institutions themselves or in the larger community).

    No, it means that the other possible indicators don’t actually work at indicating.

    This is flatly wrong.

    You can have any number of indicators of something, with varying degrees of reliability, correlation, etc. The BEST way to know how fast you are going in a car is usually to look at your speedometer. But you can also count mile markers and do mental arithmetic. You can hold your hand out the window and gauge the wind resistance. You can shoot a laser rangefinder at a distant mountain and take successive measurements. And so on.

    I really don’t know where you’re getting this concept that there can’t be multiple functional indicators of something. It isn’t correct.

    Donna:
    Robert claimed students do not apply to elite colleges because they can’t afford it.

    No, I didn’t. Your continued misrepresentations and/or misreadings are becoming exceptionally tedious. Please stop it.

    In reality, all the Ivy League schools and other elite schools have a need-blind policy that admits anyone without knowledge of their financial situation…the point is anyone can attend and graduate from a Ivy League school regardless of their financial situation.

    This is broadly true but also relatively unimportant. The Ivy League and the elite schools account for a tiny fraction of the nation’s undergraduate educational pool. Of the country’s 2.3 million black college students, how many do you think are getting a full ride from an elite school?

  26. 126
    RonF says:

    Amp, I too didn’t fit into the traditionally masculine roles that boys were expected to fit in to. I was uncoordinated – I could neither catch, hit or throw a ball. I was overweight for much of my life (and am now to a degree). I didn’t care about sports or cars and given my choice would sit and read rather than go outside and play. I also was the smartest kid in my class; in math and science I’d be in male-dominated classrooms, but when I went to English class I’d see mostly girls (one class in high school I was one of 4 boys with 20 girls). That gained me far more emnity than approbation among my peers. In elementary grades and junior high I was regularly bullied – one day 2 guys dragged me into the boys room one day and urinated upon me for laughs.

    I had two older brothers who decided I needed toughening up. This led to learning how to throw a punch, playing tackle football games sans equipment with the neighborhood boys and other such experiences. I also followed them into Boy Scouts and learned how to light fires, carry a pack for a mile or two even when the straps dug painfully into my shoulders, learn some first aid, cook myself a meal, and swing an axe. And back then, hazing was a standard rite of passage (it’s both formally and effectively banned these days).

    I wouldn’t recommend all of the experiences I had be replicated for boys today. Some of the hazing I went though was pretty amazing. But looking back on it, I think that some of that stuff did me a world of good. Getting knocked around playing football and packing a weekend’s worth of camping gear for a couple of miles taught me that physical discomfort and a bit of pain wasn’t a reason to kneel down or go home, and that it was worth it to accomplish a goal. It taught me that even in failure, I could gain some respect from my peers for trying hard and doing my best and not whining. I learned that I could surprise myself and do physical things under adverse conditions that I didn’t realize I could do. And I learned that there was a world outside my house that was worth exploring in person rather than virtually, and that it was worth conserving.

    My problem is that I don’t necessarily know what of this would be uniquely a male thing. My daughter is a pretty rough-and-tumble type of person as well; she played hockey and was a softball catcher (she’d generally experience at least one collision with another player or a fixed object per game). I’d say that all kids should have such experiences, and let them gain what they can from it.

  27. 127
    Donna Darko says:

    Robert, I said elite schools need alot more people of color and you said one way to achieve this is to

    ensure that the material resources are made available as needed to ensure that sufficient aid money to students is available so that nobody is settling for State solely because they can’t afford Harvard.

    I didn’t make anything up. Furthermore, the main reason people of color aren’t applying is because people of color at these schools say these schools are inhospitable to students of color. Moreover, Robert is glad he didn’t attend “Stanford” but was speaking for people of color because he was unprepared at the elite college he attended. He said he had subpar grades for that school but high scores and I said he can’t speak for people of color because 1) it’s usually the other way around for students of color, good grades and subpar scores 2) he’s not a person of color and didn’t spend the first eighteen years of his life prior to college as a person of color. He probably left the first college because of a lack of a work ethic since he had high scores. He is not in a position to speak for people of color.

    This is broadly true but also relatively unimportant. The Ivy League and the elite schools account for a tiny fraction of the nation’s undergraduate educational pool. Of the country’s 2.3 million black college students, how many do you think are getting a full ride from an elite school?

    I’m not just talking about the Ivy League. Many elite schools have a need-blind policy. This is not a complete list. Your point was blacks and Latinos don’t apply because they can’t afford it. I argue it’s because they know many schools are hostile to minorities.

    * Amherst College
    * Brown University
    * California Institute of Technology
    * Columbia University
    * Cornell University
    * Dartmouth College
    * Duke University
    * Georgetown University
    * Harvard University
    * Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    * Middlebury College
    * Pomona College
    * Princeton University
    * Rice University
    * Stanford University
    * Swarthmore College
    * University of Chicago
    * University of Pennsylvania
    * Wellesley College
    * Wesleyan University
    * Williams College
    * Yale University

  28. 128
    Robert says:

    Fine. I cede your point. No additional resources need to be provided to minority students who wish to attend college.

  29. 129
    Donna Darko says:

    72 out of 125 or 57% of comments by white men talking about themselves and against affirmative action. Only one comment, #124, has addressed the topic of the thread about how 1) public schools shortchange Latino and black boys and 2) how sex-segregated education is anti-male/pro-traditional masculinity/underestimates boys.

  30. 130
    Donna Darko says:

    Fine. I cede your point. No additional resources need to be provided to minority students who wish to attend college.

    You’re not ceding the point because extra resources are provided to minority students or any student who want to attend elite colleges.

  31. 131
    Robert says:

    Donna, do you not get that I do not need to “speak for people of color” because the phenomenon I am describing is racially neutral? It’s a structural problem. It doesn’t have anything to do with which group or groups is inside the structure. If we remove racial preferences from minority groups and extend them to white males from upper-class families, then minority group outcomes and performance will improve and rich white male performance will decline. (Although perhaps not as much, since stereotype threat will only be starting to operate per the Cato theory.)

  32. 132
    Donna Darko says:

    Robert, do you not get what most of us are trying to tell you here, that removing racial preferences from minority groups and extending them to white males from upper-class families will improve minority group outcomes and performance and lower rich white male performance? What kind of wing nut theory is this?

    Donna, do you not get that I do not need to “speak for people of color” because the phenomenon I am describing is racially neutral? It’s a structural problem. It doesn’t have anything to do with which group or groups is inside the structure. If we remove racial preferences from minority groups and extend them to white males from upper-class families, then minority group outcomes and performance will improve and rich white male performance will decline.

    Don’t backpedal from your woe-is-me tale in comment #84 about how your individual, white, male failure at an elite college means people of color should not attend elite colleges

    Please indulge me if I use myself as an example. I got into a very decent liberal arts school – not Harvard, but a damn fine school. My admission was a narrow squeak – I didn’t really have the grades for it, but my SATs were high and I wrote a killer essay. I also got into some other schools, but the school I chose to attend was the best school I could get into. Obviously there are exceptions, but generally speaking, the academic reputation and attainment of a school are primary factors in student decisions. We go to the best place we can get into, even when other considerations loom; I turned down a full-ride scholarship at a less prestigious school. I also applied to a school even better than the one I attended – let’s call it Stanford – but didn’t get in there. If I had gotten into Stanford, I would definitely have attended.

    At the school where I barely got in, I earned a C+/B- average, in not particularly challenging coursework, relative to the institution’s offerings, over the two years that I attended before dropping out – despite a high intelligence and a pretty good dollop of human capital, too. I did have a good time, though, and learned a fair amount of things while just getting by. I had a suboptimal match with my institution, but it was (barely) within my capabilities to perform acceptably. (I left for other reasons, and later attended a school which was a better match for my intellectual capacity, and did very well there.)

    If I was a member of one of the racial groups which typically receive preferential admission, the odds are very good that I would have gotten into Stanford, too. And I would have gone. And I would have failed egregiously, instead of scraping by for a couple of years and at least learning some stuff, because I was not smart enough (oops, I mean, I didn’t have enough social capital) to go to Stanford. My BEST match was probably the school that offered the scholarship. If I’d attended there, odds are good I would have gotten a 3.6 and graduated in four years.

    The fact that you underperformed probably due to lack of a work ethic informs your argument that people of color should not attend elite colleges. You cannot compare your preparation to that of people of color because it sounds like your preparation before college was different.

  33. 133
    Donna Darko says:

    I meant

    Robert, do you not get what most of us are trying to tell you here, that removing racial preferences from minority groups and extending them to white males from upper-class families will notimprove minority group outcomes and performance and lower rich white male performance? What kind of wing nut theory is this?

    You continue with your weird, wing nut theories in comment #84

    Now imagine that we take this arbitrary group, and in addition to the schools that they have gained admission to, we say “oh, and by the way, you also got admitted to school X” – where school X is a school in the next tier up. That’s the effect that any preference generally has – it opens an opportunity at a level you didn’t quite make on your own. Not all of the students will take their new opportunity. Most will.

    And many if not most of that group will fail.

    The tragic irony is this: racial preferences are not necessary to get members of minority groups into elite institutions, or quality institutions, or adequate institutions. Members of minority groups have earned admissions to colleges and universities at all levels ever since the racist restrictions on their attendance were lifted. Racial preferences are the tool that institutions use to increase their own racial minority presence – to look good on paper, as a progressive and non-racist institution. Which is well and good – but the cost of the policy isn’t paid by the institutions, it’s paid by the students. It’s paid by the really bright black kid who would do great at Cornell but fails out of Yale. It’s paid by the decently bright Hispanic kid who would do great at UT but fails out of Cornell. It’s paid by the adequate fill-in-the-blank kid who would have done fine at Oklahoma State but who can’t cut it at UT. (The genius kid who would have been at Yale anyway is largely unaffected, other than whatever psychic cost there is to having people think he or she is there because of preferences instead of raw merit. Which I don’t know the magnitude of, but which I assume is nonzero.)

    Spare me the “tragic irony” and the idea that racial preferences are not necessary to get minorities to attend and that schools only have racial preferences to look good. Diversity is good for society and for business. Spare me the fake concern for people of color. Check out what Robert says here: “Give racial preferences to rich white kids, and rich white kids will start flunking out of college in higher numbers.” Legacy policies have not caused privileged white men to drop out of Ivy League colleges.

    Please notice that this effect occurs regardless of whether the racial group being preferred has higher or lower intelligence or social capital or ANYTHING than the majority population. Give racial preferences to rich white kids, and rich white kids will start flunking out of college in higher numbers. So please feel free to decide that I am personally a ‘orible racist bigot – but please also be aware that doesn’t make a sparrow’s fart worth of difference in whether or not the effect occurs. Racist society or non-racist society, dumb minorities or genius minorities or average minorities – group preferences that encourage selection of mismatched performance-based institutions will fuck up group outcomes and performance, guaranteed. It doesn’t really matter too much if Whitey McRichfuck fails out of Harvard; he’s going to go work for Daddy at the investment bank anyway. It matters a great deal when someone who’s the first in the family to go to college gets the shaft.

    Racial preferences in education in essence make white-run institutions look progressive and racially sensitive, and do so by fucking over the career prospects and life paths of their minority students. I don’t believe this to be the best way of raising the level of minority academic performance. If that makes me racist, I’ve been called worse things for worse causes.

  34. Pingback: Affirmative Action Doesn’t Increase Minority Drop-Out Rates. (Also, a Cato Institute report is less than honest - there’s a shocker.) « Creative Destruction

  35. 134
    Donna Darko says:

    Racial preferences in education in essence make white-run institutions look progressive and racially sensitive, and do so by fucking over the career prospects and life paths of their minority students. I don’t believe this to be the best way of raising the level of minority academic performance. If that makes me racist, I’ve been called worse things for worse causes.

    Legacy affirmative action for rich whites has not fucked over the career prospects and life paths of wealthy, white students so why do claim this will happen to nonwhite students?

  36. Pingback: Alas, a blog » Blog Archive » Affirmative Action Doesn’t Increase Minority Drop-Out Rates. (Also, a Cato Institute report is less than honest - there’s a shocker.)

  37. 135
    Brandon Berg says:

    Legacy affirmative action for rich whites has not fucked over the career prospects and life paths of wealthy, white students so why do claim this will happen to nonwhite students?

    You seem to be implying that, given identical academic qualifications, a poor, black student matriculating into an elite college at the same time as a rich white student is just as likely to graduate and go on to a successful career. Do you really believe that?

    Also, my impression is that elite schools are typically willing to go to greater lengths, in terms of lowering admissions standards, for underrepresented minorities than they are for legacy applicants. I may be wrong on this point, though.

  38. 136
    RonF says:

    I decided to try to find out what MIT’s admission policy was on this. According to a speech by then-President Vest a few years ago, their policy is to admit every member of an underrepresented minority who applies who is academically qualified. They also conduct a summer program for matriculating students who feel they need some additional academic preparation and orientation to the MIT environment, and try to get every underrepresented minority into it.

    So, what are we talking about when we say “affirmative action”? Does it include a policy such as the above, where underrepresented minorities who don’t meet the same academic standard as everyone else are not accepted, but all those who do are?

  39. 137
    Chris says:

    RonF, that is an affirmative action policy (or at least would be counted as one in the UK). The question I have is is the policy relative in that if we have a distribution of:

    non-minority
    100
    99
    98
    97
    96
    95

    minority
    100
    96
    95

    Where an acceptable entrance score is say 90 then do we take the non-minority 100 / minority 100 as our first picks then fill say the remaining 3 slots with non-minority 99.98.97 or do you take the minority 96,95 then the non-minority 99?

    I could understand (though not endorse) an AA policy where equal grades (so in my example above the minority 100 gets preference over the non-minority 100) however can we really endorse a non-meritocracy if the minority is given preference over a non-minorty who was academically better?

  40. 138
    RonF says:

    Hm. Let me go your example one further to add an additional factor.

    non-minority
    100
    99
    98
    97
    96
    95
    94
    93.5
    92

    minority
    100
    96
    93
    92
    91

    Where an acceptable entrance score is say 90, I can admit 10 students, and the minority proportion of the population as a whole is 30%.

    If I understand MIT’s policy correctly, they would accept the top 3 minority students and the top 7 majority students. That would be because once they had admitted the 3 minority students, they would no longer be an underrepresented minority – they would be present in the admitted class at the same proportion they would be present in the population. This would mean that the minority student with a score of 92 would be admitted while a majority student with a score of 93.5 would not be admitted, so there would still be a preference at work.

    In practice at MIT, this does not occur; there are not enough qualified minorities applying to enable MIT to admit them to the proportion that they occur in the population. So the actual practice so far is to admit all qualified minorities that apply.

    There is a qualification to that; Asian-Americans are a minority in the U.S. population, but they are admitted at a higher proportion than they occur in the population because of the large number of qualified Asian American applicants.

  41. 139
    grumpy realist says:

    Would like to put in my own two cents, having gone to MIT myself.

    Trouble about Affirmative Action is that there are several flavors of it:

    MIT: Several years back MIT noticed that SAT scores correlated pretty well to GPAs, but under-predicted the ability of female students. Hmm. Ok–they started adding a fudge factor during admissions to take account of this. As far as I know, they still do this.

    Stanford: (in the 1990s) We’ll take every female student who has graduated from a California high school! Regardless of what their grades are!

    Stanford quickly dropped this idea when they discovered a higher percentage of their female students were dropping out because they found classes “too difficult.”

    One thing that I liked very much about MIT was the amount of rope they gave one. Once you’re in, they expect you’ll be able to get through. A sizable percentage don’t graduate in four years–some take less time, a lot take more. During my period there (1980s) it was quite popular for people in Computer Science to drop out for a year or so, work at one of the start-up computer companies in the area, make a bunch of money as a software designer, then come back to polish off the degree. For all of the pressure that we were under as students, it was often quite comforting to think that MIT wouldn’t have let us in unless they thought we were up to the level of work required. We WOULD be able to get through. (MIT’s also the only university I know about where the pre-meds helped each other out with homework.)

  42. 140
    AceR says:

    RonF, thanks for your observations in 124. The activities you described are by no means beneficial only to boys– I was also a quiet, studious (female) child who found some growth through physical activities.

    As a nature educator of both single-sex and co-ed groups of children, I’ve observed that boys and girls both prefer to learn through hands-on activities or motion. Girls are more hesitant to compete in co-ed groups, especially as they get older and the cultural expectations of girls become more restrictive– I have noticed that teenaged girls will pretend not to know the answer or will defer to boys much more often than younger girls will. During freetime, girls in co-ed groups do choose much more passive activities, but in the absence of boys they will take over the basketball courts and sledding hills with enthusiasm.

    Boys (especially in single-sex groups) seem to have a problem following the instructions of a female nature instructor. “I don’t have to listen to a girl” is a pretty pervasive attitude, even at a young age. It’s amazing to me how suddenly snakes and frogs and creeks become worthless to boys if taught by a woman– there’s this idea that anything a woman is interested in is not good for boys. Since boys are told (by the boy-crisis people) that only girls are good at sitting still and reading, all of a sudden, reading becomes useless to them. And I have yet to meet a girl who would rather sit and listen to a lecture on trees than go for a hike and look at trees. But we as a culture place a lot of importance on girls being quiet and polite; we expect girls to sit still and read, so they will. It’s not about ‘hardwiring’, and we do both boys and girls a disservice if we base our expectations of them on false gender essentialism.

  43. 141
    RonF says:

    MIT: Several years back MIT noticed that SAT scores correlated pretty well to GPAs, but under-predicted the ability of female students. Hmm. Ok–they started adding a fudge factor during admissions to take account of this. As far as I know, they still do this.

    My understanding is that there’s not a fudge factor; what was done was to give greater weight to the Verbal SAT score. I’m actually in favor of this on a very straightforward basis. If you want to really change the world with technology, and want an ability to guide/control that change, you need to be able to communicate. You also need to communicate well to be able to work as part of a team.

  44. 142
    RonF says:

    AceR, I have faced the issue of “I don’t want to listen to a woman” from the boys. In fact, the news a few years ago that we were going to have our first female Assistant Scoutmaster was met with less than unbridled enthusiasm. “If we have her around we won’t be able to do stuff or say things.”

    “Like what?” I asked. I told they they shouldn’t be swearing or such anyway, and as far as (I didn’t use the term, but described it) sexist language or deprecatory language about women or girls, 1) I don’t want it either, and 2) they didn’t know enough about women or girls to know WTF they were talking about.

    OTOH, I also found that I have had to have a talk with some (not all) of our suburban mother Assistant Scoutmasters. This has been along the lines of “Your shoulder patch says ‘Assistant Scoutmaster’, not ‘Troop Mom’”. For example; a kid comes up to you with a cut on his hand. It’s bleeding. You take a look and it doesn’t appear to be so deep as to require stitches or other professional medical care. What do you do?

    “Oh, the poor kid is probably scared and in pain; I’ll clean it out for him and put a bandage on and give him a big hug.”

    Wrong. You ask him if he knows what to do. If he says that he should clean it out and put a band-aid on, tell him he’s right and to go do it. If he doesn’t, tell him what to do and where he can get a band-aid and some soap and water. Then let him do it himself. I have had problems with some female ASM’s who want to do all kinds of stuff for the kids, even cleaning up the pots and dishes after dinner. There’s one that it has taken me over a year to break of the habit of following the kids around and doing things for them and from interfering with the kids when they are doing something that is actually reasonably safe but has some hazard associated with it (like using an axe).

    Of course, then there’s an issue we have faced as Moslems and Hindus have moved into the area. In Cub Scouts, the youngest kids (Tigers, Wolves and Bears, 1st – 3rd grades) tend to have female-led dens, and the older kids (Webelos I and II, 4th and 5th grades) tend to have male-led dens. I have heard of female Den Leaders who have been told by kids that their Dads have told them that they don’t have to listen to what a woman tells them to do. I can imagine what those kids must be like in school!

  45. 143
    Donna Darko says:

    This is for poor and poor minority students who may be reading this. At Harvard, families that earn less than $40,000 a year don’t have to contribute a penny to their kids’ education; Yale and Stanford do the same for families making $45,000 or less. Parents of Harvard students with incomes of $40,000 to $60,000 only have to pay $2,250 a year. Application fees are also waived for poor students. Students are expected to work over the summer and during the school year.

    http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,1226169,00.html

  46. 144
    Donna Darko says:

    “The shifting financial-aid priorities could result in a kind of virtuous mixing of the college gene pool. High-achieving kids are going to lesser-known schools and public institutions in greater numbers, drawn by the generous offers. They will inevitably bring higher academic standards with them. And lower-income communities are finding that their gifted kids can gain entry to the most expensive schools, perhaps helping pry open the austere gates of Harvard Yard a little wider in the process.”

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  50. 145
    nobody.really says:

    One more study finding no “boy crisis” in the classroom, but rather a race and class crisis.

  51. 146
    mythago says:

    Shhhh! You’re going to pux Sax and Gurian out of business! How can you suggest that genuinely helping boys in trouble is worth that?