By John Rice
A study shows that schools are becoming increasingly feminized and boys are being penalized for normal male behavior. Boys are also not achieving as well as girls academically, while schools are becoming female-dominated institutions. This is partly due to a national shortage of male elementary teachers.
It makes a huge difference for boys, when they are taught by a man they literally and emotionally look up to. So, I hope this feminization isn't occurring in our local schools. It's tough enough being a boy without getting punished for it.
It doesn't get easier for boys at the high school level. In 2003, only 65 percent of high school males in the U.S. graduated, as opposed to 72 percent of the girls. This indicates many young are losing interest in school. There is no doubt a boy and girl learn differently. When a teacher gives an assignment, a girl is likely to write it down in her notebook, while a boy might ask, "Why do we have to do this?"
This is how boys exhibit their "aggressive and rationalist nature." Many teachers are not crazy about male traits that seem to question authority. This may be why boys dominate the ranks of the behavior disordered and special-ed classes.
When I was in school, girls appeared to be model citizens, while boys were disruptive and disengaged. When we weren't fidgeting in our seats, we were drawing pictures of rocket ships. If they had Ritalin back then, my friends and I would have been taking large doses.
Boys and girls also act differently on the playing field. When I coached girls, they tended to take instruction well, while boys were more likely to be "know it alls." The boy will miss the groundball because he refuses to use the proper technique. A girl will miss a ball, because she's having a personal feud with the pitcher.
Personality differences aside, the male image takes a beating in the entertainment world. The "idiot dad" is a stock figure in TV shows and movies. A typical TV dad is out of touch with his family, oblivious to his surroundings and can't perform the simplest household tasks. It's a wonder these bunglers can make it to their jobs. Portrayals of good fathers are so rare, they burn themselves into our memory – men like Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird, or Bill Cosby on his TV show.
If the male lead is not a father, they tend to be overgrown adolescents – the frat boy who refuses to grow up. I don't know whom boys admire these days but I hope it isn't a 30 year-old guy crushing a beer can on his skull.
When I was a kid, my friends and I were hero worshipers. We read books about our favorite athletes, wanted to be war heroes and looked up to the tough guys who dominated the movie screens. Many of our fathers worked hard without complaining. We wanted to be like them. They weren't "idiot dads." They knew everything.
Now that I'm teaching college, I see big differences between male and female behavior. The guys may not be participating at the same level as the girls but, so far, they aren't drawing pictures of spaceships.
John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries.