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“The War Against Boys” by Christina Hoff Sommers

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Disclaimer: I have two boys.
Disclaimer: Christina Hoff Sommers is on the staff at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank.
Conclusion: None of that matters.

Why? Although sociology and human development can be a slippery science, with ill-defined objective goals, Ms. Sommers has written a book of surpassingly convincing evidence that boys are being shortchanged in our American educational system.

I was tipped off to this book after reading an article in Business Week about “The New Gender Gap.” It seems that the “weaker sex” now occupies a greater claim to the educational supremacy than the boys; girls are swelling the honor roles while remedial classes fill with testosterone. Ms. Sommers lays out the case against unequal treatment with such dispassionate and methodical procedure, you might mistake her approach for a scientist proving the speed of light. But the conclusion is inescapable: boys have suffered – and continue to suffer – under a system that has shifted advantage to girls.

In a broader frame, Sommers presents an education system soaked with political correctness and gender politics that should alarm men and women alike. In that sense, “The War Against Boys” should trouble the parents of girls as well as boys. A powerful polemic for our times.

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About Eric Lindholm

  • Anne

    I think this is a very real problem, the way teachers and schools are prejudiced against boys. Nevertheless, no matter how hyper a boy is, he needs to be taught that he better behave in class. Because that’s my memory of elementary school. I was a very compliant girl. I did as I was told and got good grades. But the boys were just irritating to me. So I don’t have an answer. Recruit more male teachers, bring back recess. Encourage competition. What? Some people’s feelings might get hurt? Get over it.

    Somehow, though, I think those measures deal more with the symptoms than the real problem. Any other ideas out there?

  • Frank

    If you have a son or sons, this book will coalesce your feelings and provide moral support. For every meeting where your son’s teacher explains patiently that he is not meeting his potential, you can ask the appropriate questions about the material being taught and the method of teaching. I have a son that was repeatedly called “all boy” by his teachers as if that was a bad thing. Ms. Sommers’ book was the catalyst for my asking, “What’s wrong with that?”

    My son is an A student since beginning school and is in every advanced class offered, as well as studying two languages after school, playing the viola, and active in sports, yet some teachers still feel the need to make him act differently.

    He laughs and jokes and wants to enjoy his education, but the politically correct want more. Several of his younger teachers are looking for a desire to help others learn and a supportive attitude for those who are not as bright. His special interest is history and when he asked why religiosity was not mentioned in his textbooks in the Age of Colonization segment he was criticized in class and was reprimanded for bringing in extraneous topics. When he failed to evidence a “collective and understanding attitude about his role in the classroom” I sat through a parent teacher conference.

    Ms. Sommers’ work gave me the support I needed to ask if he is the problem, and whether the expectations of behavior are appropriate for a young student. It’s unconscionable that collectivism is expected of him, or that he be graded on it.

    GREAT BOOK – REQUIRED READING FOR PARENTS OF BOYS

  • http://none.com Bob A. Booey

    Can we get rid of these “chickdick” comments? I have no idea what’s up with that.

    Frank: your son IS the problem. Stop teaching him to be a difficult nerd. Just let him be a nerd. Injecting your Religious Right agenda into the classrom agenda is a waste of time and energy — if you’re that serious about dismantling the separation between church and state, go move to Kansas.

    Sommers is an opportunist bim who wrote that god-awful book to get attention and raise controversy. There are plenty of feminist academics far smarter than I who picked apart virtually every false conclusion she made in the book, but let it be said that it’s not social science and she has no empirical proof for her claims. While it’s true that girls are generally doing better in school and going to school slightly more than men are, look at the continuing disparity when it comes to graduate and professional education, particularly in lucrative fields like the hard sciences, engineering, mathematics, and medicine. We’ve generally made higher education more open and accessible to women and they’re now taking advantage of it — now the challenge is to expect more of them in traditionally male fields so we can level the pay disparity they encounter once they leave college. Not to mention corporate America’s continuing reluctance to advance women into the highest ranks of management. Mentoring plays a big role in this.

    I know I’ll be the only one who’ll take this position on this post, but I’m fine with that. Go internet backlash.

    That is all.

  • Sandy

    This is the biggest load I have read in quite some time. Girls have always done better in the classroom since I was in school in the 60’s. Girls like to read, like to do paperwork, like to please the teacher, it’s always been true. It has absolutely nothing to do with any bizarre feminization of the schools. The only difference is that now, girls are being rewarded for those efforts by being encouraged to continue their education.

    What’s really hysterical, is if you read the solutions, they’re the exact opposite of what boys like to do. One notion is that group projects are done because of girls desire to socialize. They say it would be better for boys to go back to desks front, no socialization, rigid learning environment. Ha, right. Boys are the ones who are active and would prefer a science project to a rigid environment. These people are making excuses to try to blame women for succeeding in order to keep a male dominated family structure and society.

    If you want to know how to improve boys performance in school, it’s simple. Admire brains as well as brawn, just like women encourage brains as well as nurturing.

  • erica

    Regardless of what points Ms Summers brings up in her book, I won’t even think about reading it because of a comment she made in the 90’s: “There are a lot of homely women in women’s studies.”
    I think something as stupid and (dare I say it?) chauvinistic as this comment (not to mention the fact that she herself is quite “homely” so she shouldn’t pass judgment on other women) should turn everyone off to her ridiculous opinions.

    And I’m not even in women’s studies.

  • Jamin

    Working as a volunteer with the EBD Special Ed teachers I’ve learned one thing: they are in constant need of male para professionals. They are also very delighted that I’m willing to help. It is very rare to see any male paras or special ed teachers for that matter.

    Boys make up 90% of EBD special education.

  • Sebastian E.

    It is about time. While ridiculing, belittling, attacking boys has become the norm in this sick society, hurting males of all age groups, it is also a lesson learned for them not to commit to relationships (already a pandemic) and stay single.
    From this time forward, men should go their own ways. As far as relationships go, foreign value orented women are worlds apart for the good from American women. There are no advantages in being with American women anymore. Of course, we are taught that anything below 300 lbs is considered “average” and 300 lbs to 500 lbs is only “big.” But, I wonder how far these, along with some other revised definitions (e.g. illusion of equality) would go with men who do have alternatives; that is, the majority of the men.
    So, to the feminists I say: Please continue with your man/boy-bashing so that all would get a sparkling picture of what feminism really is.

    “A woman’s intuitive thought is a result of millions of years of not hinking.”
    –Thomas Edison