"Why Boys Fail: Saving Our Sons from an Educational System That's Leaving Them Behind" by Richard Whitmire
Commitmentnow.com: Are boys in our society doing worse in school than ever before?
Richard Whitmire: The measure that matters is college enrollment and graduation. At this point more than 57% of those earning four-year degrees are women; 62% of associates degrees go to women.
Commitmentnow.com: What is being done in the classrooms that are hurting boys and causing them to fall behind girls academically?
Richard: When school reforms pushed challenging verbal skills two grades lower, a lot of boys just couldn't handle it. The reason for pushing those verbal skills earlier is sound. the mistake was not helping boys adjust.
Commitmentnow.com: If you could change five things about our current schools, what would you change that you believe would help boys succeed in the classroom?
• More research into teaching literacy early.
• More research into what works and doesn't work with single sex education
• Forbid teachers from telling parents about their boys: don't worry, they always catch up
Commitmentnow.com: Do you think boys are failing in school because they are less mature than girls? Or because our society encourages and celebrates a "macho" type of male, rather than an intellectual male who loves reading?
Richard: Our culture has always been "macho," even back in the days boys were doing well in school. Something else has changed, and that something else is described above.
Commitmentnow.com: What are the reasons boys are falling behind in their reading skills? What can parents and teachers do to combat and change this growing trend?
Richard: Currently, too many dad read to their daughters and throw the football with their sons. That has to change. Parents also have to monitor the reading and writing abilities of their sons. If they fall behind, and teachers say "Don't worry, boys always catch up," don't believe them. They don't always catch up. That's the point where you have to take their education into your own hands.
Commitmentnow.com: What role does video games play in the fact that less boys are reading? Also, what role does the publishing industry play in this problem?
Richard: Less than you might think. Video games are a symptom. Boys lose interest in school and then look around for something in which to invest their energy. What they find are video games.
Commitmentnow.com: Do you think boys are sent to school and expected to read too early?
Richard: Schools can adjust for the early reading expectations. they just don't.
Commitmentnow.com: What are five things parents can do to help their boys be better writers?
Richard: Take writing into your own hands, especially if the only writing done in school is the formulaic brief response designed to get them through standardized testing. and when writing at home -- bribe them if you have to -- don't put any topics off limits.
Commitmentnow.com: What can a parent do whose son simply has no interest in the world of books and writing and would rather spend his time playing video games, watching movies, and surfing the Internet?
Richard: Role modeling, to start with. What's dad doing with his spare time, reading or watching SportsCenter?
Commitmentnow.com: What do video games give young men that they are often lacking in their life? How can parents provide boys with real-life experiences that mirror the thrill, sense of achievement, and flow boys experience while playing video games?
Richard: "Flow" is the key word...video games give them the sense of immersion and mastery that reading once gave.
Commitmentnow.com: What is the 'boy code' and how does this impact a young man's emotional sense and ability to learn in the classroom?
Richard: I don't buy the "boy code" as a cause. That's been around forever. These academic declines are only about 25 years old.
Commitmentnow.com: What are some of the misconceptions, stereotypes and ideaological beliefs about boys that are causing schools to continue procedures and practices that hurt boys in the classroom?
Richard: Basically, schools are just being unimaginative and lazy. They would come up with ways to engage boys in reading if they ever veered off from teaching the same way they've taught for decades. That doesn't work when the literacy demands have been shifted by two grades.
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