Monday, June 4, 2012

BOYS ADRIFT...part 1

I am really enjoying BOYS ADRIFT.

The author, Leonard Sax, says the five factors driving the decline of boys are:

1. Profound changes in the way children are educated have had the unintended consequence of turning many boys off school.

2. Studies suggest that some of the most popular video games are disengaging boys from real-world pursuits.

3. Overuse of medication for ADHD may be causing irreversible damage to the motivational centers in boys’ brains.

4. Environmental estrogens from plastic bottles and food sources may be lowering boys’ testosterone levels, making their bones more brittle and throwing their endocrine systems out of whack.

5. Shifts in popular culture have transformed the role models of manhood.

I've only read about the 1st factor so far, but I am very impressed and it makes a lot of sense.

* what children used to learn in first grade they are now learning in kindergarten when the brain is not ready to learn to read and write yet.

* if children start school two years later and are taught material when they are developmentally prepared to learn, kids are less likely to hate school.

* the pace of education has accelerated, but boys' brains don't grow any faster now than they did thirty years ago.

* girls are more motivated to please the teacher then boys are.

* knowledge gained from experience is just as important as knowledge gained from a book.

* boys who have been deprived of outdoor time have a harder time with motor coordination and the ability to concentrate.

* you can not just give teachers a script to follow and expect children to just turn on their brains and learn infallibly and efficiently. Children are not computers. Children have emotions and motivations and need to know why.

* using drills and repetition to teach a child to read does not teach them how the world works and how to pull what they need out of the content.

* competition is necessary...every kid who wants to play on a school team should have the opportunity to play, rather then focusing on the most talented few. In real life there are winners and losers, not everyone gets a trophy. Team competition socializes boys. It teaches boys to value something above themselves. Girls and boys are affected by competition differently.

* when a school tells you they have a zero policy for students writing violent stories ask whether that policy applies to what the students read because then the librarian will have to remove all works by Hemingway, Steinbeck, Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy.

* there is not a shred of evidence to support the belief that prohibiting violent play (using water guns) or imaginary violence (boys' writing violent stories) will decrease the actual violence.

At the end of this chapter the author says:
"If your son is motivated by competition, then eliminating it from his school, throwing out his toy guns, and forbidding him to write stories with violent themes won't change him. Those policies may disengage him from school, however. The end result may be a boy who feels that the only place he is truly understood as he really is, is the world of video games."


mare ball said...

Man, these are great. Very similar to what James Dobson wrote years ago when I was raising my boys. He still has good books out, by the way. This seems like an excellent book.

Juli said...

Really interesting. Really. It makes me crazy that we have taken all things competitive out of school. Yes, I get that there is more to it than winning or losing, but in the real, adult world.... someone gets the job and someone doesn't.

And if they never learn how to deal with it and move forward, then "we" haven't done a good job at all.