Sunday, January 20, 2008

Institutional *-ism In Schools

What changes would you recommend if I told you that African-American children were:

four to eight times as likely to be drugged with Ritalin and other stimulants, which pediatrician Leonard Sax, calls “academic steroids.”

reading much more poorly than are other students.

five times more likely to commit suicide.

two and a half times as likely to drop out of high school.

severely underrepresented in college and even more so among college graduates, thereby locking them out of today’s, let alone tomorrow’s, knowledge economy.

You’d likely invoke such words as “institutional racism” to justify major efforts to improve African-Americans’ numbers.

All of the above statements are true except for one thing: I’m not talking about African-American children. I’m talking about children of all races, indeed half of all children, half of our next generation: boys.

When a disparity hurts females or minorities, major efforts are implemented to redress the situation. Why not with boys?

Any thoughts on why this is? The author quoted above points the finger at even more "feminized" schools.

Do you agree that this situation is similar to the concept of "institutionalized racism"?


Ellen K said...

I doesn't surprise me one bit. Girls are not like boys. Boys thrive on competition. If I want a roomful of mainly boys to work as hard as they can, I set a timer and they work their tails off. If I have a roomful of mainly girls, they work better in cooperative group situations. This is a serious problem. When you look at educational measures taken in schools in the past decade, almost all of them do not address the hard wiring of young men. Recesses are removed or limited and then pent up energy is labeled with an alphabet soup of acronyms.

Anonymous said...

I have come across the claim that grades K-8 are being taught more and more by women. But ... any idea what the percentage of women teachers for those grades in 1900 was? The stereotypical one-room schoolhouse had a schoolmarm inside it (Ichabod Crane, being the exception).

-Mark Roulo

Ellen K said...

While the schoolmarm was the norm in one room schoolhouses, very few students went beyond eighth grade in the American frontier. Those that went to high school were usually taught by a group of teachers who had been to a teachers college-and by definition of the period-they were more likely to be male.

Anonymous said...

Mark, our K-8 district here in the NW Suburbs of Chicago has about 2,400 students in grades 7 and 8 with 101 teachers designated Jr. High Teachers, 65 female and 36 male. The balance of the staff, Special Education, Social Workers, Program Assistants and Psychologists’ are predominately female as well. I have no reason to suspect that this distribution is any different from much of the country. That said, gender distribution is far less important than the abilities of the individual teacher to understand and deal with the differences between boys and girls. Just as an aside, I’ve often wondered why the “diversity” demagogues haven’t come to the defense of the under-represented male population in K-8 schools. I guess that’s another story for another day.

Dr Pezz said...

Social conditioning play a major role as well, which definitely has an impact on suicide rates and commitment to responsibilities. Is it that classes are "feminized" or are they simply based less on competition and more on collaboration and inclusion?