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Old 01-31-2006, 05:10 PM   #1
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Why Boys Are Falling Behind In School...

...at least according to the current issue of Newsweek. Here is an edited version of the main article; you can read the full one at their website. I cut out most of the anecdotes, which IMHO were uselessly vague anyway, and a few paragraphs that seemed to just be reiterating the content of others.

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By almost every benchmark, boys across the nation and in every demographic group are falling behind. In elementary school, boys are two times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with learning disabilities and twice as likely to be placed in special-education classes. High-school boys are losing ground to girls on standardized writing tests. The number of boys who said they didn't like school rose 71 percent between 1980 and 2001, according to a University of Michigan study. Nowhere is the shift more evident than on college campuses. Thirty years ago men represented 58 percent of the undergraduate student body. Now they're a minority at 44 percent. This widening achievement gap, says Margaret Spellings, U.S. secretary of Education, "has profound implications for the economy, society, families and democracy."

Thirty years ago it was girls, not boys, who were lagging. The 1972 federal law Title IX forced schools to provide equal opportunities for girls in the classroom and on the playing field. Over the next two decades, billions of dollars were funneled into finding new ways to help girls achieve. In 1992, the American Association of University Women issued a report claiming that the work of Title IX was not done—girls still fell behind in math and science; by the mid-1990s, girls had reduced the gap in math and more girls than boys were taking high-school-level biology and chemistry.

Boys have always been boys, but the expectations for how they're supposed to act and learn in school have changed. In the last 10 years, thanks in part to activist parents concerned about their children's success, school performance has been measured in two simple ways: how many students are enrolled in accelerated courses and whether test scores stay high. Standardized assessments have become commonplace for kids as young as 6. Curricula have become more rigid. Instead of allowing teachers to instruct kids in the manner and pace that suit each class, some states now tell teachers what, when and how to teach. At the same time, student-teacher ratios have risen, physical education and sports programs have been cut and recess is a distant memory. These new pressures are undermining the strengths and underscoring the limitations of what psychologists call the "boy brain"—the kinetic, disorganized, maddening and sometimes brilliant behaviors that scientists now believe are not learned but hard-wired.

For many boys, the trouble starts as young as 5, when they bring to kindergarten a set of physical and mental abilities very different from girls'. As almost any parent knows, most 5-year-old girls are more fluent than boys and can sight-read more words. Boys tend to have better hand-eye coordination, but their fine motor skills are less developed, making it a struggle for some to control a pencil or a paintbrush. Boys are more impulsive than girls; even if they can sit still, many prefer not to—at least not for long.

Primatologists have long observed that juvenile male chimps battle each other not just for food and females, but to establish and maintain their place in the hierarchy of the tribe. Primates face off against each other rather than appear weak. That same evolutionary imperative, psychologists say, can make it hard for boys to thrive in middle school—and difficult for boys who are failing to accept the help they need. The transition to middle school is rarely easy, but like the juvenile primates they are, middle-school boys will do almost anything to avoid admitting that they're overwhelmed. "Boys measure everything they do or say by a single yardstick: does this make me look weak?" says Thompson. "And if it does, he isn't going to do it." That's part of the reason that videogames have such a powerful hold on boys: the action is constant, they can calibrate just how hard the challenges will be and, when they lose, the defeat is private.

It's easy for middle-school boys to feel outgunned. Girls reach sexual maturity two years ahead of boys, but other, less visible differences put boys at a disadvantage, too. The prefrontal cortex is a knobby region of the brain directly behind the forehead that scientists believe helps humans organize complex thoughts, control their impulses and understand the consequences of their own behavior. In the last five years, Dr. Jay Giedd, an expert in brain development at the National Institutes of Health, has used brain scans to show that in girls, it reaches its maximum thickness by the age of 11 and, for the next decade or more, continues to mature. In boys, this process is delayed by 18 months.

Middle-school boys may use their brains less efficiently, too. Using a type of MRI that traces activity in the brain, Deborah Yurgelun-Todd, director of the cognitive neuroimaging laboratory at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass., tested the activity patterns in the prefrontal cortex of children between the ages of 11 and 18. When shown pictures of fearful faces, adolescent girls registered activity on the right side of the prefrontal cortex, similar to an adult. Adolescent boys used both sides—a less mature pattern of brain activity. Teenage girls can process information faster, too. In a study about to be published in the journal Intelligence, researchers at Vanderbilt University administered timed tests—picking similar objects and matching groups of numbers—to 8,000 boys and girls between the ages of 5 and 18. In kindergarten, boys and girls processed information at about the same speeds. In early adolescence, girls finished faster and got more right. By 18, boys and girls were processing with the same speed and accuracy.

One of the most reliable predictors of whether a boy will succeed or fail in high school rests on a single question: does he have a man in his life to look up to? Too often, the answer is no. High rates of divorce and single motherhood have created a generation of fatherless boys. In every kind of neighborhood, rich or poor, an increasing number of boys—now a startling 40 percent—are being raised without their biological dads.

In the past, boys had many opportunities to learn from older men. They might have been paired with a tutor, apprenticed to a master or put to work in the family store. High schools offered boys a rich array of roles in which to exercise leadership skills—class officer, yearbook editor or a place on the debate team. These days, with the exception of sports, more girls than boys are involved in those activities.

In neighborhoods where fathers are most scarce, the high-school dropout rates are shocking: more than half of African-American boys who start high school don't finish. David Banks, principal of the Eagle Academy for Young Men, one of four all-boy public high schools in the New York City system, wants each of his 180 students not only to graduate from high school but to enroll in college. And he's leaving nothing to chance. Almost every Eagle Academy boy has a male mentor—a lawyer, a police officer or an entrepreneur from the school's South Bronx neighborhood. The impact of the mentoring program, says Banks, has been "beyond profound." Tenth grader Rafael Mendez is unequivocal: his mentor "is the best thing that ever happened to me." Before Rafael came to Eagle Academy, he dreamed about playing pro baseball, but his mentor, Bronx Assistant District Attorney Rafael Curbelo, has shown him another way to succeed: Mendez is thinking about attending college in order to study forensic science.
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Old 01-31-2006, 05:11 PM   #2
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IMO, the article never really convincingly spells out how exactly the increased emphasis on standardized tests and advanced placement courses would threaten boys particularly. And most of the stuff about chimpanzee hierarchies and prefrontal cortexes sounds pretty dubious to me.

The point about the absence of male mentors rings true, though again the article doesn't really explain why boys are (apparently) less likely to gravitate towards those mentor figures who still exist.

Also, as a college professor I would like to point out that the growing college admissions gender gap which they mention, does thus far seem to be limited to middling-to-lower-ranking public universities. And that these are the same universities which have simultaneously witnessed rapid gowth in "nontraditional" (read: older, working) students, who disproportionately tend to be women whose kids are now school-age and are thus turning their attention back to careers.
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Old 01-31-2006, 05:18 PM   #3
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(that was very tongue in cheek if you get offended by it sorry )
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Old 01-31-2006, 08:08 PM   #4
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[Q]One of the most reliable predictors of whether a boy will succeed or fail in high school rests on a single question: does he have a man in his life to look up to? Too often, the answer is no. High rates of divorce and single motherhood have created a generation of fatherless boys. In every kind of neighborhood, rich or poor, an increasing number of boys—now a startling 40 percent—are being raised without their biological dads.[/Q]

Somehow, I have developed a reputation for being a good teacher. There are so many others who are better than I. I have a reputation for getting boys who have not wanted to set foot in a school, interested in learning and wanting to come to school. Not because I am I good teacher in my opinion, but because I am the first male most of them have had in school. That and the fact that I have a very different style from my female counterparts makes me successful. Not that I am a better teacher.

I found most of the article to be a hodgepodge of stuff.

The paragraph above in my opinion is telling. I also feel that WOMEN (no offense) are more likely to recommend that a boy be put on meds. In ten years I have not EVER told a parent that their child needed medicine to get through a day in my room. EVER.
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Old 01-31-2006, 08:18 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dreadsox
The paragraph above in my opinion is telling. I also feel that WOMEN (no offense) are more likely to recommend that a boy be put on meds. In ten years I have not EVER told a parent that their child needed medicine to get through a day in my room. EVER.
In my opinion no teacher should ever tell a parent their child needs to be medicated. It is not the school's job to do so and there are legal ramifications if a teacher does make that recommendation. The most a school should do is recommend a screening.

And I resent the idea that women are quicker to medicate than men. That implies that we are less patient with studens.
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Old 01-31-2006, 09:57 PM   #6
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Originally posted by WildHoneyAlways

And I resent the idea that women are quicker to medicate than men. That implies that we are less patient with studens.
Just my observation....actually....a female administrator put that in my head.
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Old 01-31-2006, 10:01 PM   #7
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Originally posted by WildHoneyAlways


In my opinion no teacher should ever tell a parent their child needs to be medicated. It is not the school's job to do so and there are legal ramifications if a teacher does make that recommendation. The most a school should do is recommend a screening.
Oh, there are so many ways to say that your child is not attentive in class....so many ways to plant the seed in a parent's mind.

I am not saying medication is wrong in some cases....but....there are way too many BOYS being medicated.
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Old 01-31-2006, 10:07 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dreadsox


Oh, there are so many ways to say that your child is not attentive in class....so many ways to plant the seed in a parent's mind.

I am not saying medication is wrong in some cases....but....there are way too many BOYS being medicated.
I thought you were referring to coming right out and saying "Your child should be medicated." We've been told never to utter those words to a parent. And for good reason.
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Old 01-31-2006, 10:13 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dreadsox
Oh, there are so many ways to say that your child is not attentive in class....so many ways to plant the seed in a parent's mind.
IYO, what should a parent's first response be when a teacher suggests or implies that?

It is pretty staggering, the numbers of boys who are on Ritalin and the like now. I hate to think of what dosages my older brother would have probably been on had the pathologization of "attention problems" been so widespread in his day.
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Old 02-01-2006, 03:23 AM   #10
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Old 02-01-2006, 07:11 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by yolland

IYO, what should a parent's first response be when a teacher suggests or implies that?
I would ask the techer to put a behavior modification plan in place. I would ask for non-verbal cues to be used to not draw classroom attention to the child, and let the child know he is off task. I would ask for a connor's scale evaluation to be done by the teacher. I would if this had never been an issue before ask the teacher to talk with prior years teacher's to see if they had any input as to how to help.
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Old 02-01-2006, 08:58 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by WildHoneyAlways


In my opinion no teacher should ever tell a parent their child needs to be medicated. It is not the school's job to do so and there are legal ramifications if a teacher does make that recommendation. The most a school should do is recommend a screening.

And I resent the idea that women are quicker to medicate than men. That implies that we are less patient with studens.


I had a teacher tell me she thought my daughters inattentiveness
was probably from petite mal sezuires. beacuse she would get a blank look on her face everytime she was caught talking or otherwise.

she said i should have her tested....
i just sat there in shock...
and then she goes..."well....you can ignore it if ya want to"

come to find out to test for the seizures...( not that i was actually considering it) was to do a spinal tap
Fucking crazy lady!
no one is real fond of this teacher...students and parents alike

shes a crazy olb bitch who needs to retire , teach another grade,
er whatever.
but....that whole thing still gets me pissed.....
shes not a doctor.
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Old 02-01-2006, 04:31 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by carrieluvv




I had a teacher tell me she thought my daughters inattentiveness
was probably from petite mal sezuires. beacuse she would get a blank look on her face everytime she was caught talking or otherwise.

she said i should have her tested....
i just sat there in shock...
and then she goes..."well....you can ignore it if ya want to"
Did you notify her administrator about this?
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Old 02-01-2006, 04:41 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dreadsox


Did you notify her administrator about this?
after you recovered from your petite mal sezuire
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Old 02-01-2006, 04:47 PM   #15
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Originally posted by deep


after you recovered from your petite mal sezuire
Yeah...let me push my jaw back into place....

And...I wish I could share more about my new job but I cannot.
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