Wednesday, April 05, 2006

More Boys & School

The last week has been hectic--a poetry reading with out of town readers, preparation at work for a hearing, and my daughter's birthday party (two of them).

My brother, an assistant headmaster at a school that specializes in dealing with troubled kids, writes to me the following about the boys and school issue:

"I don't blame women and did not read it that way, but I do think that the system that is in place for a while rewards behaviors more easily accepted and performed by little girls. I think that has always been true, so I agree that the delivery system has not changed. The problem is that the boys are being increasingly socialized with things that erode their attention. Video games, game boys, DVDs are targeted to boys, not girls. So we entertain them with action-packed imagery for the vast majority of their time, and then ask them to sit still and listen to stories and watch the board. This is the thing that is extremely different about our society, while the others have remained constant. I also think that the difference with girls is that now a lot more of their mothers are working, and so there is increased emphasis on education. You don't hear many moms telling their daughters that Math is not important, but you did in our generation. So I think girls and women are taking education more seriously, and men and boys are finding reasons and activities to not do the same. I really think that it is not cool to be smart, and there is very little in any media, print or TV, to show otherwise. The male ego at its worst, the bravado, is all about doing what you want and having lots of material things. These were not images or stereotypes that were very prevalent in the past. Also male role models of heroes now are sports stars and rap artists, and those sports stars are increasingly portrayed as inner city kids focused on getting what they want, no loyalty to teams, just get the most money they can.

So, a few ramblings on the topic, but I have been following this pretty closely here in our local school system, and I think this has nothing to do with girls and women, but it is a real problem that society has to solve."

I think this is pretty helpful, and intelligent, and has added some critical dimensions to my own thinking. However, in the national media, this issue is being played as a zero sum game between boys and girls--meaning that, if girls gain, it must be that boys lose. I do not think this is the case, nor do I think my brother suggests that that false equation is true. But that's the way the national media will play it--it's a symptom of lingering misogyny in our society.

Tomorrow, I hope to write some stuff on Frank Bidart, and get back to writing. Now, back to my translations for my next MFA packet.

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