Friday, July 21, 2006

What's Wrong with Boys?

A lot depends on who you ask. I had a student once who was fond of standing up at odd moments and announcing "All men are pigs!" Sometimes this provoked conversation, sometimes not, but as she never bothered anyone much beyond that, I tended to let her be. I'd heard she'd had a bad breakup, and her proclamations seemed to make her feel better.

But a lot of people do say boys are trouble. Our brains are different. We don't like to read, because it's too "girlish." We'd rather be off starting wars, because the only emotion it's socially acceptable for us to express is aggression.

Now some say a good solution is more male teachers. Naturally, I don't mean just any male teachers. I mean real men. Some men don't want to bother with that, because of all the hunting, fishing, and watching sports it entails.

It's odd, because some years people say boys get all the attention, but this year it's girls. Jay Matthews, of the Washington Post seems unable to decide whether or not we're having a boy crisis or not.

My college class, one year, complained that I called on the female students more than the male students. So I went to an index-card system, where I call on everyone whether or not they want to talk.

Check out the article, which is well-organized and easy to read. I particularly like its explanation for the new phenomenon of "boomerang kids:"

Simple economics helps explain why so many young men are returning to the nest. Recent college graduates are carrying 85 percent more debt than graduates of a decade ago, while pay for entry-level jobs has not kept pace with inflation. “Him living here is not a problem for us,” said Harry Hartshorne, a suburban Detroit retiree whose 42-year-son, Neal, a stained-glass craftsman, has been living at home since his early 20s. “It may be a problem for him, but he’s not anxious to solve it.”

The disapppearing middle class hurts us all, regardless of sex.

One word of caution: please, don't email me asking how you can become a real man. Real men never ask for directions, especially when they're lost.

Thanks to Alison.
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