Sommers’ conclusion about the plight of boys in America echoes the findings of the 2008 report “Why we Can’t Wait” that was written and edited by Marcus Littles, Ryan Bower and Micah Gilmer.
As a teacher and parent, I was particularly struck by this passage in Sommers’ article:
As one critic told me recently, the classroom is no more rigged against boys than workplaces are rigged against lazy and unfocused workers. But unproductive workers are adults — not 5-year-olds. If boys are restless and unfocused, why not look for ways to help them do better? As a nation, can we afford not to?
I agree that as a nation we have not settled on effective strategies to engaging boys. However, I do know that my colleagues and I work very hard to do this on a daily basis. One of my growth experiences this year as a teacher has been on allowing for some of the restless chaos induced by boys to manifest in order for them as individuals and the class as a whole to succeed.
That said, I also believe that there are countless other factors that impede our work as teachers. It’s mind-boggling why so many schools are still intent on holding athletic practices in the afternoons/evenings rather than in the morning when students have the most energy, and more prone to distractions because they are looking for ways to exert this energy.
Another surprise is that so many schools have moved away from “shop” classes. Even if kids are not learning how to build a bookcase, there is merit in having classes on gardening and vehicle maintenance that will serve not only boys and girls well. These classes force students to focus and be engaged in a different manner, which will in turn provide more outlets for them to show exhibit different skill sets.
Ok, enough from the soapbox…click on the link below for the full text of Sommers’ article