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Schools Hostile to Boys


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Time magazine publishied this article by Christina Hoff Sommers that states that schools have become hostile to young boys and are trying to mold their personalities and characters in ways that harm their self-image and leave them feeling unwanted and alienated.

http://ideas.time.com/2013/08/19/school-has-become-too-hostile-to-boys/

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Schools no longer allow teachers to judge student behavior on a case by case basis. Boards of Education have legislated rules without the possibility of teacher input, and I am afraid some teachers like this. Easier to lump behavior issues all in one basket without the necessity of understanding, compassion or allowing individual thought. Off with their heads seems to be the rule these days.

If disruptive behavior inhibits the education process I can well imagine punishing a child for even the perception of minor infractions must add to the chaos. Does no one understand the developing mind of a seven year old? Is playful interaction between boys to be stopped? If fantasy play is curtailed what does that say about the anger this creates in the victim of this punishment? Are schools creating future bullies?

I just finished a long course of reading about the juvenile justice system in America and writing about it. The information sickens me when I read about state legislators mandating the harshest of punishments on children without allowing judges to interpret mitigating factors in a case. It seems teachers face the same mandates in the classroom and what kind of lesson does this teach?

Thank you, FT for allowing us to review this issue once again.

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The prevalence of zero-tolerance rules has always smacked of stupidity to me. It says, I'm not able to make a judgment on kids behavior, so I'll just make a rule that takes thinking out of the equation. Yet it's a school teacher's, a school principal's, job to make decisions regarding their students' behavior, hundreds of times daily.

If they wish to avoid this, then for heaven's sake, change professions. Putting in rules and then enforcing them that make your life easier but put a black mark on a child's record, and often on his soul, that confuse him, that make him think the world is even more unfair than he ever conceived it to be, that simply add to his uncertainty about how things work, is an awful way to do business.

There seemed to be a point in zero-tolerance a few years back. Now it's being abused by adults who don't want to think. Who seem unable to exercise common sense. These adults should have no place in working with and administering children.

C

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There's a big difference between bullying and making toy guns. Plus, with kids that young, you can't assume anything so a rigid zero tolerance approach is just not appropriate. The other point is, suppose as is quite likely the case, the parents of the child are more reasonable, exactly how do you explain to the child that they have been punished by the school due to behaviour the school considers inappropriate - but they don't.

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Hasn't it ever been so? I thought the lady teachers were trying to gurlify us boys, way back when I was in grade school. Luckily the school administrators were all men and made sure there was enough violence to go around to remind the boys what nasty little creatures we were.

A steady diet of Saturday afternoon cowboy movie matinees when I was a kid revealed the underlying theme: the schoolmarm and the town ladies are busy trying to civilize the men, but the cowboys just keep whooping it up and hangin' out at the saloon. Now those saloon girls were something else. No wonder the ladies of the town crossed the street to avoid them.

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This has been coming for a very long time. A number of bad tendencies are converging and it's creating an intolerable situation.

We have people in the schools who have reacted to school violence with pure hysteria and their bosses haven't had the balls to call them on it.

Zero tolerance policies have created zero common sense school administrators.

The radical feminists so dominate among school administrators don't seem to understand that there's a difference between boys and girls (and Vive la différence!)

Something has got to give or the whole system will be completely paralyzed by this rampant idiocy.

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Franz Kafka wrote that in every revolution, the oppressed become the oppressors. For decades, girls were put down and marginalized in school, segregated into home ec and never encouraged to take traditionally male oriented courses. They have been discriminated against in the workplace, have been the victims of domestic violence, and have been thought of as emotional and unable to make coherent decisions based on logic and reason.

Their response to this is to emasculate little boys and turn them into girls.

I'm as socially liberal as anyone, but this is one of the areas where my fellow liberals drive me crazy. I'm as feminist a man as you can find, but you don't right a wrong by brainwashing boys, by assuming that any playful "aggression" makes the boy a future predator, by putting "boys in their place."

Let boys be boys.

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Hasn't it ever been so? I thought the lady teachers were trying to gurlify us boys, way back when I was in grade school. Luckily the school administrators were all men and made sure there was enough violence to go around to remind the boys what nasty little creatures we were.

A steady diet of Saturday afternoon cowboy movie matinees when I was a kid revealed the underlying theme: the schoolmarm and the town ladies are busy trying to civilize the men, but the cowboys just keep whooping it up and hangin' out at the saloon. Now those saloon girls were something else. No wonder the ladies of the town crossed the street to avoid them.

I remember those Saturday afternoon movies. Tex Ritter, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Lash LaRue, Hopalong Cassidy, Randolph Scott, Tom Mix -- those were great. They ran serials, so you had to come back the next week to see how the hero avoided the cliffhanger he'd been left in. Hey, maybe that's why I enjoy ending chapters that way! Never thought of that.

C

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Zero Tolerance policies are ridiculous. Teachers know it, principals know it, parents know it, and students know it. No one legitimately thinks it's a good idea to expel a kid for folding a paper ninja star, sucking on a cough drop, or drawing a picture of a gun. This, much like standardized testing, is an example of politicians with no knowledge of pedagogy, child psychology, or educational theory sticking their noses into education. Everyone thinks "Hey, I went to school, so I have an informed opinion on education policy!" No one says that about other professions - "Hey, I've been to the hospital, so I should have a say in how this surgery is performed!"

If you're concerned about two kids pointing markers at each other and making "pow-pow" noises, you simply pick up TWO markers and sneak up behind them, telling them to drop them to the floor and kick them over to you. Granted, this sometimes turns into an imaginary Mexican standoff, initiating a rather surreal scene in which two fifth graders and an adult face each other down with Crayola products, but you get some pretty interesting improv that way. What I'm trying to say is, you can either toe the line and follow the BS policies from some politicians who don't even know the names of the kids whose lives they're playing with, or you can pick up some marker-guns and be the Quentin Tarantino of pretend-time. You know my choice.

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I feel like I should add something-

Though I do see the craziness in ZT policies, I don't see this as "feminization", as the article called it. 90% of my colleages are women, but they aren't a gang of radical straw feminists trying to turn boys into girls - most of them have raised sons, themselves, and those that haven't have still spent years studying child development and working with male students. They understand how boys play, and the importance of allowing such play.

No, the problem comes from two points - administrators and school boards terrified of litigation, and politicians focused on raising test scores.

Those at the top insist that teachers break up any kind of rough play because they're afraid that a kid will get hurt. The article mentions that this play only turns to real aggression 1% of the time, but all it takes is one incident of a kid getting hurt to get an already underfunded school slapped with a lawsuit.

Second, because of the test-mania instituted by Bush Jr. and carried on by Obama and Arne Duncan, kids as young as Kindergarten are being forced out of "play to learn" and into "drill to learn" classrooms. Recess? Doesn't exist any more. Free play? Nope. Nap time? Forget it. Schools without passing test scores are being closed down, so if an administrator or school board member walks into a Kindergarten room and sees kids napping, eating a snack, or playing with blocks, that Kindergarten teacher gets fired - they're expected to work "bell-to-bell", despite the fact that there is NO research that backs up that practice for kids of that age. But the test is everything, so here we are.

This is, of course, completely counter-productive. The brain learns at rest, and children develop understanding of themselves and others through play and imaginary narrative. By following the marching orders of the President and his education-goons, we're doing what we already know does not work. And that's what kills me. There's mountains of research and data out there about how to educate kids. WE KNOW HOW TO DO IT. But we're told not to do so, because real education is intangible. And moreso, real education is DANGEROUS. There's a reason tyrants always take out the scholars and the artists, first.

I guess it comes down to this: Either we're completely ignorant on how to educate kids, or the system is specifically designed to prevent certain kids from receiving a quality education. Look at the difference in test scores between poor neighborhoods and rich neighborhoods, and you'll see the answer.

...Oh, jeez. I need to stop before I write an entire essay. I could go on for hours.

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I sat down to watch the Little League World Series this afternoon. Nothing beats a group of kids playing ball with all the energy and skill they have developed in just a few short years. To hell with Major League Ball...spoiled millionaires, drug addicts, and all the crap that goes with that level of play.

Sports is just that...play. Makes me wonder when the zero tolerance people are going to discover that boys actually touch one another during the game...verboten! And what about Pee Wee Football, OMG, they are tackling one another...off with their heads.

But the Japanese team won today, 6-4 against the West League boys from California, and they all shook hands and some of them hugged when it was over. I think if there is violence in school it is because not many kids watch team sports and maybe they watch too much WWF wrestling. The latter is a joke sport worthy of being called a violent soap opera and it teaches the wrong message.

So another baseball season (of the Little kind) is over and I will have to wait until next year. Kids grow up fast and I wonder who the stars will be next season? By then all the little robots in schools across the land will have moved up a grade and still face the same ZT nonsense. Any wonder they're all singing "We don't need no education...."

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