Globe Article Fails to Answer the Question

by sitstillandpayattention

The Wednesday, November 30, 2011 Globe published an article by Kate Hammer titled Reading between the Lines on Boys’ Results. Another half-hearted effort to raise concerns regarding the rapidly declining academic performance of our boys. While the article’s title holds out an implicit promise to finally post a decisive critique of our failing education system it again tempers any such expectation by eliding much of the recent literature. Rather than call for explicit reforms and ask the really tough questions about how schools are failing our children (boys particularly)  the article defaults (for the sake of optics and politics of gender I assume) to a discussion of the extent to which girls have made gains in such faculties as science. The fact however (as it is with reading/comprehension) that girls aren’t statistically doing better but rather that boys are doing worse–they are in effect disengaging. WHY?

The exigency of the current state of boys’ academic performance is seen by Wayne Martino, Professor of Education at the University of Western Ontario, as a “misplaced fuss over gender.” He has obviously failed to do his research (this shouldn’t be surprising  given the current state of “scholarship”) making the fatuous claim that “academic achievement is closely linked to socioeconomic status.” Acclaimed psychologist Leonard Sax in Boys Adrift shows that the underachievement of boys and a concomitant over-prescription of ADHD drugs cuts across socioeconomic lines. Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, a developmental psychologist at Temple University, is quite unequivocal regarding the bias against boys, “The stakes are too high to worry about political correctness.”

Martino concludes (as does the article almost) with what amounts to a discreditable and provocative claim that “the boys issue is distracting education form bigger problems.” What then are education’s “bigger problems” if not the very failure of pedagogy to engage all children.

In a comprehensive analyses by one time feminist Peg Tyre, The Trouble With Boys, most educators she says, “don’t consider that they need to fix the environment that these boys are learning in….They’d rather fix [sic] the boy.”

Rather than attend in a meaningful and policy-oriented manner to the alarming change in boys’ achievements we have to custom-fit (with designer drugs if necessary) our children to the classroom–a proscriptive place of sanguine deference to the lotus flower.