Saturday, August 8, 2009

Boys, boys, boys

Yesterday's inservice wasn't any more encouraging to me. The title was Boys in Crisis, and it reflected some of the research out there that says boys are being left behind academicaly and professionally now.
Some of my frustration with this information is that it has been so obvious my entire teaching career that our education system is designed to accomodate girls, and boys just have to adjust.
Maybe it was because I had sons that I was so aware of this reality, but the truth of this statement is obvious to me.
Today's boys don't have anyone to teach them to be men. Many of them don't have fathers in their lives, so they are learning from television what it means to be a man. If they watch comedy, they see the stupid, dense dad with the pretty, smart spouse who keeps him in line. I have often told my male students that they need to speak up. If women were reflected so poorly on television, there would be protests and boycots.
The courses that were offered to boys when I was in high school and when I first started teaching have been eliminated. Woodshop and auto mechanics are only offered to 11th and 12th grade students who are willing to go to Career Tech. I know that I have learned more practical math from helping my dad and Tony with building projects than I learned in a classroom. It doesn't take the place of algebra, but it is information that I can use as a homeowner. My dad taught Tony how to do basic carpentry that has saved us hundreds of dollars. Today's students not only don't have anyone to teach them at home, they no longer have anyone at school to teach them.
I give a writing assignment each year that asks the question: What class do you relax in and enjoy the most and why?
I can't number the male students who respond to that question with their Career TEch class; small engine repair, carpentry, heating and air, auto mechanics, body shop, etc. If they don't go to Career Tech, their response is welding, ag mechanics which are offered in our Ag. department. Why? They can get their hands dirty and learn something valuable for their future. It is very difficult for me to explain to those boys why they need to find the theme of a poem. I guess as an English teacher, I shouldn't put that out there, should I?

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