While standing in the grocery store line, watching a woman begin writing her check only AFTER she was told the total, I began to peruse the check out stand for a magazine article (because I was going to be in line until Sept 2009) and noticed the cover article of Time magazine, “The Myth About Boys”. I don’t really know what I expected when pulled the magazine off the shelf, and then opening the thin glossy pages to begin reading what DAVID VON DREHLE has written about something I love dearly: boys.
He writes, “Statistics collected over two decades show an alarming decline in the performance of America’s boys–in some respects, a virtual free fall… Boys in the fourth, eighth and 12th grades all score better–though not dramatically better–on math tests than did the comparable boys of 1990. Reading, however, is a problem. The standardized NAEP test, known as the nation’s report card, indicates that by the senior year of high school, boys have fallen nearly 20 points behind their female peers. That’s bad, not because girls are ahead but because too many boys are leaving school functionally illiterate.”
I went from blissed to pissed at the speed of light.
It’s a great article, but I am thinking David isn’t raising a boy. The problems I have encountered (and here I go) are the WOMEN teaching in the grade schools. Are you shocked that I should dis’ my sistas? Well school system YOU SUCK at providing interesting reading material to boys. I HAVE read your books with my son, only to turn to him and say, “This story is really boring.” But then, I was raised on Moby Dick, The Three Musketeers, David Copperfield, Trinity and I could go on, but I am a girl and found growing up that these books (and many other male-based reading) riveting. These books set my life in motion to aspire to be a writer. Now, my son gets books on Knitting, Basket Weaving, Troubled Girls – where are the classics? Your reading materials BORE ME, and thus bore the boys, who are doers. Books need to make their heart race and fire the imagination.
Add to the problem that in my son’s grade school there was only ONE male teacher. All the females I encountered despised boys for normal boy behavior, which typically is the inability to sit still. Most of you that have been reading my blog since its conception on AOL many years ago have watched my battles with the teachers and the school system. I have brought my 79 year old mother with me to the parent-teacher conferences, and she responds, “I don’t understand why they teach this way,” almost every time.
I had Brian’s fourth grade teacher say, “Brian is a good boy, but I worry that he won’t become anything when he grows up. Have you thought of Ritalin?” Have you ever thought that a redhead could kill you? I wanted to reach across that desk and slap her back to being a nice person who cares about kids. How about you retire? Later I was to find out that she was a probation teacher, one that was passed to different schools because of her poor performance as a teacher. She was disorganized, mostly auditory and a boys worst nightmare. Can you imagine if I was a different person? I might have thought to put my son on drugs.
But luckily for me I was raised around boys. I love the way they look at the world. I love working with them in business, and I love how they can fight and become best friends. We need for them to do well in school. I don’t want them sitting still. I want them exploring, building, examining and being BOYS.
So lets quit F******G them up in school shall we? In the 1960s we had a bevy of male teachers because it was a way to avoid being sent to Viet Nam. All my greatest teachers were men. I am hearing some female teachers scream now.
Brian did once have a terrific female teacher in 5th grade, which brought him up two grades in reading. She was a corporate trainer, who I worked with at ATG, that landed a teaching job at Brian’s school. I specifically requested her. Being that I too have been a corporate trainer, I understand what it is like to teach those who don’t want to be in your classroom. I knew she would be great. She was. She understood all the different styles of learning and structured her classroom accordingly. The school district should have modeled their classrooms after her. Brian adored her and she understood boys.
Instead, the school let her go because she did not have tenure, because female teachers out on maternity leave needed to come back.
One of those teachers who had to come back turned out to be Brian’s 6th grade teacher. She and I were off to the races from day one. Mess with the boys I love, and I am your worst nightmare. Her scrap booking assignments are a crock of gluing crap and the parents hate it. My email responses to Brian’s 6th grade teacher’s “Brian isn’t…” emails burn like gasoline on her desktop. She was mean to all the boys and I disliked her condescending tone.
To counter her belittling nature I tell my son “You are brilliant. You are funny. You are going to do amazing things with your life. I am proud of you.” I am constantly telling his friends what I admire about them too. George swims like a fish, and is one of the kindest boys I know. Alex is brilliant and draws like Picasso. Andrew is hilarious, sweet and adorable. Daniel is a great boxer and should find something safe to punch besides my furniture. Maur is interesting and polite, while Yuma his brother is downright adorable. Max needs understanding and Shawn needs attention. I adore them.
And they all hate reading because of the teachers that have made them feel stupid.
What does this say about our school system?
I am looking forward to Junior high for Brian and his friends. They have PE, which is physical activity … and boys need this. Classes last no more than 50 minutes and there is walking after. There are male teachers and activities suited for boys. I hope to see Brian and his friends loose their negative feelings about going to school and reading. Hopefully there will be some classics in here somewhere?
Am I dreaming?
David seems to think there is hope.
We shall see. in the meantime warn all Santa Rosa teachers there is a redhead mom moving through the school system fighting for boys. Be afraid, be very afraid.
Until next time-
Links from Kevin Chavous’ site:
Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP
Center for Education Reform (CER)www.edreform.com
Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO)www.baeo.org
National Alliance for Public Charter Schoolswww.publiccharters.org
Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options (HCREO)www.hcreo.org
Alliance for School Choicewww.allianceforschoolchoice.org
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