Sunday, January 22, 2006

"The Trouble With Boys"

An interesting article from Newsweek on the growing difficulties boys are having in school.

The article mentions, as one issue among many, the diminished time spent on P.E. and recess compared to decades ago. That brought back memories of a personal experience from a few years ago, when our children were still in the local public school. Recess was taken out of the morning schedule, and we expressed a concern to the school that our son -- and the other children -- needed recess time in order to learn more effectively in the classroom. The vice principal shook his head because we obviously didn't "get" it. The interruption of recess could not be afforded, we were told, when that time was needed in the classroom in order for the children to be prepared for state testing. Recess was suddenly declared unimportant.

The school refused to recognize that if a young boy periodically has 10 or 15 minutes to run around and exercise, he's going to be able to accomplish more learning in less time when he's back in the classroom. We were also wondering how it was that previous generations had time for both learning and recess and received a better education than children currently seem to obtain in public school...

That negative experience was just one factor among many that led us on the path to being a homeschooling family. It's quite interesting that over the last year or two, in particular, there seems to be a growing recognition for the varied ways children learn, including gender and age differences -- and simultaneously, recess may be on its way to being "in" again.

I question, however, why the Newsweek article's subtitle refers to boys as being "maddening." How it is that simply by being boys they deserve that adjective? It seems to me that the article's headline unintentionally underlines a problem expressed in the article, that in some cases "Boys are treated like defective girls."

As a postscript, People Magazine has a story in its January 30th issue about schools which have experimented with different classrooms for boys and girls, with marked success. Of course, the idea is opposed by NOW president Kim Gandy, who fumes that "We know that the all-boy math class will quickly become the real math class." (The story appears to be available only in print editions of People.)

Monday Update: Betsy Newmark, a teacher, has thoughts on this today.


Blogger Mrs. Happy Housewife said...

Have you read "The War Against Boys"? As the daughter of a feminist, I never knew or cared about the unbalanced treatment of young males. I had to have one of my own before my eyes were opened.

8:37 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I haven't read it -- just went to Amazon and bookmarked it. Looks like a very informative read on a subject which interests me greatly. Thank you!! Best wishes, Laura

8:50 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Davis said...

btw, laura, at our school, where they have only one recess, if you misbehave during your 3 hour chunk of instructional time when you ahve to sit quietly in your seat, guess what the punishment is? Right! NO RECESS!

The teachers' union and the prison guards' unions should merge.

5:04 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I totally believe that about the punishment! Talk about counterproductive --

Thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment. Best wishes, Laura

5:30 PM  

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