An article on Time magazine's website caught my eye today. The headline read,"School Has Become Too Hostile for Boys." Before I even read it, I thought, "No, it hasn't." If schools are getting more hostile, there's no particular subgroup that's suffering more than any other. There's no way. But then I read Christina Hoff Sommers' piece. And now I agree. School and little boys increasingly just don't mix, which could be to blame for the much higher drop-out rates and lower graduation rates among those boys when they turn into young men.
Sommers makes the argument that the play of young boys is often in direct conflict with many schools' "zero tolerance" rules regarding weapons. If a little boy pretends to use a gun in play, or makes a comment about a weapon, they get in big trouble. And Sommers said this:
"According to at least one study, such play rarely escalates into real aggression only about 1% of the time. But when two researchers, Mary Ellin Logue and Hattie Harvey, surveyed classroom practices of 98 teachers of 4-year-olds, they found that this style of play was the least tolerated. Nearly half of teachers stopped or redirected boys dramatic play daily or several times a week whereas less than a third reported stopping or redirecting girls dramatic play weekly."
This is my problem with these issues...if we, as a society, allow our media to fill boys' heads with images of violence and we continue to glorify fighting, weaponry and the traditional hero image, then how can we turn around in our schools and tell them that they are bad, when they're just replicating what we've allowed them to learn? And, if these boys who have their play redirected are constantly told that the decisions they make are wrong and they're incapable of guiding their own play, aren't we teaching them that they aren't capable of making their own decisions?
And at the same time, as our schools' rules disproportionately affect boys, across the country, academic achievement gaps between girls and boys continue to increase and the number of boys pursuing higher education continues to decrease.
Do you have male students in schools? Do you worry about them more than you do your female students?