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May 16, 2003 8:11 AM   Subscribe

Eh... I never liked high school anyway.
posted by mcgraw (38 comments total)

 
Girls have more intricate sensory capacities and biosocial aptitudes to decipher exactly what the teacher wants, whereas boys tend to be more anti-authoritarian, competitive, and risk-taking.

'Biosocial aptitudes' my skinny white ass. Everyone knows girls are doing better because they're made of "sugar, and spice and everything nice," whereas boys consist of "snips and snails and puppy dog tails."
posted by spotmeter at 8:42 AM on May 16, 2003


Good post, though the link could be more descriptive.
posted by The Michael The at 8:49 AM on May 16, 2003


I especially like the reference to boys needing, biologically, to have recess to run around and, well, be boys.

We have surpassed our genetics and are being held back by them. Our society has become less and less physically demanding but our bodies genetic chemistry has not changed from the hunt and gather days. Look at our weight issues. Our obesity is do, in large part, to the fact that our metabolisms are geared for times of feast and famine, but our society is providing us with an abundance of easily accessible food and daily activities that, more and more, have us sitting in place all day.

As we all become more brain driven our bodies and our development are at odds with our heritage.
posted by dirtylittlemonkey at 8:52 AM on May 16, 2003


It pretty much all seems to be true, so far as my frame of reference goes. My friends do things like giving their daughters more allowance than their sons because "girls are disadvantaged".

This kind of thing is why I stopped considering myself a feminist - when one starts being a defender of the faith - any faith - one stops being a seeker for the truth.
posted by orange swan at 8:55 AM on May 16, 2003


(After further reading...)

mcgraw, what's up with your obsession with gender relations?

Also...

orange swan, I know of at least one case (girlfriend's sister) where the girl in question was denied all awards in some competition because "She wins everything; we need to give the boys a chance!" Which is complete bullshit, of course; if she deserved to win (which the judges acknowledged she did), she should have won, regardless of gender. Damn small town politics.

It's sad that you no longer consider yourself a feminist because of the bad rep given by certain other feminists, but I agree entirely when you say "when one starts being a defender of the faith - any faith - one stops being a seeker for the truth." I was just having an interesting conversation about how, in the past few years in Sweden, a very conservative feminist power has cropped up in the government, to the point of almost villainizing men. It's as bad as a misogynist government that villainizes women, and even more hypocritical. When did equality give way to "some are more equal than others"?
posted by The Michael The at 9:05 AM on May 16, 2003


High schools generally do not encourage critical thinking - it is really more of an act of discipline than an act of education.

Track these same students through university study, and see what becomes of them.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 9:09 AM on May 16, 2003


(one last thing...)

As we all become more brain driven our bodies and our development are at odds with our heritage.

This should be amended to say "As agriculture progresses in society, our bodies and our development are at odds with our heritage."

Our brains began their exponential expansion several hundred thousand years ago (millions, actually, but the explosion was more recent than that); everything was fine up until the beginning of agriculture. Now, as agriculture, not necessarily our brains, is progressing at an exponential rate (fewer and fewer are producing more and more, along with GMO crops, more efficient farming, etc), the problems are revealing themselves.
posted by The Michael The at 9:11 AM on May 16, 2003


The author's description was pretty common at my high school, too. Most of the guys weren't either interested in a) learning (or putting forth any effort) besides the small minority in honors classes, or b) extra-curriculars, which were girl-dominated, too.

snark You women are emotional, but at least you care about stuff. /snark
posted by gramcracker at 9:13 AM on May 16, 2003


mcgraw, what's up with your obsession with gender relations?

I'm just obsessed with America's obsession with race and gender.
posted by mcgraw at 9:21 AM on May 16, 2003


Cry me a river until we close the wage gap. Which I'm not convinced well behaved female sycophants will do.
posted by rainbaby at 9:32 AM on May 16, 2003


Rainbaby: I don't think anyone is advocating that women become "well-behaved sycophants." Saying that our primary & secondary education systems are failing boys is not equivalent to saying that girls' independence & assertiveness is somehow causing it.

As for the gender wage gap: given that there are currently nearly a third more women than men earning BAs and Master's degrees, one wonders how long it can last...
posted by Johnny Assay at 10:10 AM on May 16, 2003


So the boys aren't performing as well because they didn't get enough recess, eh? 'Scuse me, but did the girls get more recess? No? Oh, then what this article is tacitly advocating is giving the two genders unequal amounts of recess - affirmative action for boys.

Fine, but if that's what you want, let's hear you say it.
posted by soyjoy at 10:37 AM on May 16, 2003


It's hard to see how schools should be blamed for this. When I was in college -- actually at Macalester, which is discussed in the article -- it seemed like there were more women than men who studied a lot and were seriously planning for their futures. The same thing happened when I was in law school, where most of the top students and journal editors were women. Now I'm an attorney, and women comprise the majority of this year's class of summer associates.

As a man, I don't find this particularly surprising or distressing. When I study or work, I don't feel like I'm representing anyone but me. I don't feel like I have to work extra hard to succeed. As a man, I still have lots of institutional and biological advantages -- e.g., my gender is still considered the norm and I do not have to leave my job to have children -- but those things, too, will change or become less significant in the workplace.

It needs to be said: I, for one, welcome our new female overlords.
posted by subgenius at 11:07 AM on May 16, 2003


subgenius: when asked "What hope is there for the world?" Gabriel Garcia Marquez responded: "Turn it over to the women. It's the only thing we've never tried."

I say give it a go.
posted by scarabic at 11:14 AM on May 16, 2003


Really, soyjoy? Care to point to the part where it advocates giving boys more recess than girls? Or are you just making that up?

It never even suggests making more recess available to boys than to girls. The tacit suggestion is for more recess, period. Grind that axe somewhere else.
posted by NortonDC at 11:16 AM on May 16, 2003


The point is that boys and girls develop differently and that treating them equally will undoubtable harm them. The fault lies in that schools have changed focus to improve the status and success of female students but to the detriment of male students. Not that they are not being treated equally, just that the equal treatment favors a girls development. Perhaps the sexes shouldn't be treated equal. No need to favor one over the other, just to recognize that they have different developmental needs.

Also the article isn't about equality of men and women but rather boys and girls. Don't be supervised if todays 8 year olds produce more female CEOs then male.

On preview- Norton DC: The article does imply that boys need more recess then girls... they are at different stages developmentally.
posted by dirtylittlemonkey at 11:31 AM on May 16, 2003


McGraw:

Your wife has her tongue in my ear right now.
posted by dfowler at 11:39 AM on May 16, 2003


dflower:

I hope Snoop steps in for a swing at you, fool.

who are you mr t.
posted by mcgraw at 11:47 AM on May 16, 2003


NortonDC - gladly:
    From his first days in school, an average boy is already developmentally two years behind the girls in reading and writing. Yet he's often expected to learn the same things in the same way in the same amount of time. While every nerve in his body tells him to run, he has to sit still and listen for almost eight hours a day. Biologically, he needs about four recesses a day, but he's lucky if he gets one, since some lawsuit-leery schools have banned them altogether.
Do you really need me to explain how this tacitly argues for more recess for boys? How it says that while the girls are perfectly happy sitting and learning, the boys need to be out running? If it the problem were not enough recess for either sex, "boy/he" would have been replaced by the word "child/they." But I believe that would alter the writer's intent, wouldn't it?

(And I love how predictably a comment challenging the logic of an axe-grinding post is itself denounced as "axe grinding." Classic.)
posted by soyjoy at 12:02 PM on May 16, 2003


Nowhere does it say girls can't go to recess too. If memory serves me correctly, girls need recess just as much as boys-- to gather in groups and talk about how stupid boys are.
posted by kevspace at 12:13 PM on May 16, 2003


soyjoy: Oh, then what this article is tacitly advocating is giving the two genders unequal amounts of recess - affirmative action for boys.

I don't agree that the article "advocates" that, but, say it does...

If recess was a privelege that was given to one group at the expense of the other, you might have a point. But if unequal amounts of recess would benefit both groups, with no costs to their complements, it's hardly affirmative action.

While there are about a million definitions of affirmative action, none seem to fit your point.
posted by trharlan at 12:26 PM on May 16, 2003


(And I love how predictably a comment challenging the logic of an axe-grinding post is itself denounced as "axe grinding." Classic.)

Soyjoy hath thpoken!
posted by mcgraw at 1:35 PM on May 16, 2003


subgenius: That's overladies, to you. :)

A friend of mine has just completed a PhD in Education specifically focusing on the so-called gender gap in schools and on boy's education ... his take on this is that boys may, by some measurements, not be doing as well as girls (though the measurements themselves are highly suspect), but that once boys graduate, they do just fine, if not better, than the girls. See, for example, the wage gap, the make-up of the legislature, etc. This article is a typical piece of underdocumented tripe which attempts to make sweeping judgements on complex behaviours solely through anecdote and suggestion. Its actual worth, in terms of what light it might shed on purported gender differences in education, is zero.
posted by jokeefe at 2:04 PM on May 16, 2003


having just finished my tour of duty as a TA for a freshman engineering course i can DEFINITLY say that from my experience the girls will start working on homework and projects much earlier as they appear at office hours first. However, i dont' believe either sex has a distinct advantage because i'd often my most intuitive students were boys and my most hard working students were girls (admittedly i'm making a generalization as 60 of 250 students in one class at a private university is not a statistically relevant group).

As far as i'm concerned i think that it's about time there were more women in my field (note: i graduated with my MS and in the 10 structural engineers that graduated only one was female) and i look forward to having a diverse workplace in the future. I mean, who wants to work at an office which is all white males with glasses, phooey!
posted by NGnerd at 2:08 PM on May 16, 2003


The Micheal The - I wouldn't say I stopped considering myself a feminist because there were idiot feminists out there. I always knew there were and it didn't bother me. Much. I also haven't withdrawn my support from quite a few feminist goals. It was more that I saw that being too committed to an agenda and a body of thought can really blind one to the realities. If we're seeing girls as in need of extra attention and not looking at what specific problem boys might have, that's a problem.
posted by orange swan at 2:09 PM on May 16, 2003


I always wondered after the accuracy of the wage gap statistics. I mean, if I were a HR manager, couldn't I simply fire all the men, replace them with women making 20% less, cut payroll and benefits that same 20%, and be named Manager of the Friggin Century? A little glib, but the point remains...?

I was talking about this with one of my bosses (a woman, very well paid, genius level intelligence and a great boss) and she said that she thought that maybe it was perhaps attributable to (a) legacy old-boy network thinking, in that women are kept out of certain jobs despite expertise because of clubby old-school idiocy, and (b) the willingness of a woman to take less money for a particular job than a man applying for the same job. She also added that women will also voluntarily take themselves out of the workforce for extended periods of time (maternity, etc) whereas a man will not, thus creating situations where, between men and women who have similar educations, expertise, etc., you have divergent salary tracks because the woman might have a gap in her salary history, which HR people capitalize on.

Don't know that any of its true, but it does seem odd. I've known and workled with a lot of HR people, and not one has had a job description that has different salary amounts for men and women written in the margins.
posted by UncleFes at 2:21 PM on May 16, 2003


From what I remember from my Race and Gender in Economics course, the gender wage gap in the United States is largely attributable to the different career tracks that women and men tend to take, even within the same company. For example: In a interstate trucking firm, men tend to apply for and get hired as truck drivers, who have a strong union and different job expectations and a different pay scale. Women tend to apply for and get hired as administrative and secretarial type jobs, which do not have union support (especially as receptionists, who are often classified as managers, and therefore not eligible to be represented by a union,) and therefore have a different payscale, as well as different job expectations.

This doesn't even necessarily have anything to do with gender employment expectations either; after all, I think it is a reasonable expectation that someone whose job takes them away from home for over a week at a time would get more compensation then someone who works 9-5. So, while both groups are in essentially the same positions in the hierarchy of the company, (the grunt work truck driving/basic administrative and office duties,) there are varying pay scales between the two, and there is a historical/cultural/personal desire gender split among the workers of both groups.

In other words, if a male was hired as an Admin Assistant, he'd get the same pay scale as all the other people, mostly women, in the department, and if there was a female truck driver, she would have the same compensation as her male counterparts. It's just that there are more women in admin and more men in driving, so there comes in the payment disparity among workers in the same position in the corporate hierarchy.
posted by Snyder at 3:02 PM on May 16, 2003


Has the teaching methodology changed in the last few years? So suddenly it's teaching in ways in which boys find it hard to learn? Why didn't our fathers have all these problems? Or did they have the problems but the girls weren't there to show everyone how much the boys were failing? Or is this another apology and excuse for why "boys will be boys." (Which, BTW, I think is the WORST explantion for poorly behaved, bratty boys and socially unacceptable behavior in males.)

In a utopian world, teaching would take into account the different ways boys and girls learn, as well as the way different class and race experiences change the way people learn...but in today's school world, how on earth would you do that?
posted by aacheson at 4:05 PM on May 16, 2003


I don't remember when I first met McGraw's wife, but I've been sleeping with her ever since.

And Soyjoy, I still think you're cool, man.
posted by dfowler at 8:36 PM on May 16, 2003


I have a son in high school, and academic achievement is seen as 'uncool' by a lot of boys. Cool is drinking, drugging, working out, and acting tough. So far, my kid doesn't do the drinking and drugging in any serious way. I blame it, along with a host of other problems, on marketing. The sports figures and rappers who sell products, and are deemed cool, are often disrespectful and violent especially towards women. Eminem is a good example. Parents need to reclaim their influence on their kids' values.

And if you think the girls are all prissy do-gooders, check out that powderpuff mob violence in a Chicago suburb.

I'm not convinced that boys and girls learn dramatically differently, but I do think schools and teachers have very different expectations for girls and boys. Girls really needed a leg up, and it looks like they got it. Now maybe we should start treating them as individuals, and not as stereotypes.
posted by theora55 at 8:39 PM on May 16, 2003


Saying that our primary & secondary education systems are failing boys is not equivalent to saying that girls' independence & assertiveness is somehow causing it.

I think what rainbaby was referring to was the idea that these girls are doing better because they are more willing to live within the bounds of the system, and do as they are expected. Whereas boys are 'more distrustful of authority', etc.

With regard to real world performance, I would say that simply acting as expected isn't rewarded nearly as well, or as predictably in the world of work as it is in the highly structured world of school, class and extra-curricular activities. So men, who may have been raised to be more apt to take risks, have an advantage they never did while in school, since they can be noticed.
posted by Space Coyote at 8:53 PM on May 16, 2003


soyjoy - Do you really need me to explain how this tacitly argues for more recess for boys?

No, you need to explain how that advocates more recess only for boys.

It doesn't.
posted by NortonDC at 9:04 PM on May 16, 2003


I think NortonDC is taking a flippant comment way too seriously.
posted by Space Coyote at 9:08 PM on May 16, 2003


Parents need to reclaim their influence on their kids' values.

The best way for parents to influence their kids' values is to put them with a better group of peers. Because a kid's peer group is far more important to his socialization than his parents.
posted by kindall at 11:42 PM on May 16, 2003


This article is definitely not supporting special treatment for boys. In fact, it made the very important point that gender is not a zero-sum game. Everybody can win here. The article explains that the current school structure hurts boys and girls, but it just happens to hurt boys more.
I might even go so far as to say that any system where there is inequality harms all the parties involved. I may be just another white boy, but racism and misogyny harm me because it harms society and, more importantly, it harms the people I love.
In a utopian world, teaching would take into account the different ways boys and girls learn, as well as the way different class and race experiences change the way people learn...but in today's school world, how on earth would you do that?
Uhm, don't you mean that in an utopian world, teaching would take into account the different ways individuals learn?
We're not going to get anywhere until we cut all this boys vs. girls bullshit. We male, female and transgendered individuals are all playing this game together. We all have our individual advantages and disadvantages and we all have our own individual crosses to bear. And if we play well together, we can all come out as winners.
posted by Skwirl at 8:20 AM on May 17, 2003


Soyjoy hath thpoken!

I guess you showed me. (Heh.)

Anyway, thanks for demonstrating your ability to construct a coherent argument and your grasp of the culture of MetaFilter. Couldn't have put it better myself.
posted by soyjoy at 8:32 AM on May 17, 2003


Good post, though the link could be more descriptive.

Yes. I almost skipped this, because I figured who wants to read more about those good old / bad old high school daze? Turned out to be a very interesting piece. The Harry Potter frenzy seems to indicate that Anglo-Saxon boys today, ignored by fiction writers in recent decades, have been desperate for a hero to call their own. (As opposed to Ninja Turtles, Pokemon characters, etc.) As for female gender takeover, they don't seem to have captured the flag yet here at MetaFilter.
posted by LeLiLo at 12:03 PM on May 18, 2003


I don't like school either.
posted by studentbaker at 7:54 AM on May 23, 2003


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