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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Ross Rambles: A mostly invisible problem

Monday, April 17, 2006

The College Knowledge column by Barb Pytel printed in the Wednesday edition of the Chronicle Times raised some interesting points. The title of the column was "Why are there fewer boys on a college campus?"

Pytel notes that females are now a majority on college campus. Females have more impressive college applications based on their high school years. The short answer to the question posed by the title is that boys are less biologically suited than girls to the requirements of academia, which involves sitting quietly for long periods of time.

I instinctively understood at an early age, that school was unsuited to my nature.

"Mrs. Withering, the nature of my classroom experience is ill-suited to my biological predisposition," I informed my first grade teacher. Mrs. Withering and all of my teachers were unsympathetic to my dislike of academic pursuits. They discouraged my interest in more natural activities such as paperwad shooting.

To this day, I find the idea of shooting paperwads more attractive than work, but I was taught to suppress such desires.

In truth, I found school excruciatingly boring and suspect that even girls found the prolonged periods of lecturing and pencil exercises painfully tedious.

However, the federally mandated increased emphasis on academics (at the expense of hands-on art and vocational activities) will make school even more tedious, according to some experts quoted by Pytel. More pencil and paper tests (assessments) means more tedium.

Fortunately, a school can now designate the least adapted students (mostly males) as having a behavioral disorder. By so labeling them, they can be separated or medicated or both.

We have seen initiatives to make girls more comfortable in pursuing careers that have been male-dominated. We have seen a state equity committee express concern that some activities at Washington High School had more males than females.

We have also seen initiatives to close the gap between non-minority students and others and between economically disadvantaged students and others.

Why have we not seen any initiatives to address the evident and profound difference between male and female performance in the k-12 school system?

One reason is likely the proprietorship of victimhood by historically designated victims. It goes against our established definitions to regard males (other than racial minorities or the disabled) as a disadvantaged segment of the population.

A more important reason, I believe, is that we don't know how to deal with the problem, even if we recognize its existence. It means a need for reinventing education, something that receives some lip service but little action and most of the action is in the wrong direction.