The stats are depressing--for boys. Women now account for 57% of bachelor's degrees in college (62% of two-year associate degrees). Among high school seniors, 23% of sons of white, college-educated parents scored "below basic" in reading skills (compared to 7% of daughters). The Curmudgeon sons appear headed to join this group.
Author Richard Whitmire argues that the problem is teaching of literacy skills in school, which have been pushed down to as early as kindergarten. Because boys develop literacy skills later than girls (a fact that has long been known), this push has put the boys at a disadvantage; whereas boys used to catch up by fourth or fifth grade, that is no longer the case.
Even classes such as math have shifted to more word-based problems, making literacy skills more important than ever.
We can attest to some of this. We've noted in our boys' math textbooks that the problems--and the ways of approaching them--are much more word oriented than when we were growing up.
We also face frustrations of teachers trying to impose girl-like organizational skills on boys. One of our younger son's 6th grade teachers--in history--has made 40% of his class's grade dependent on keeping a journal with all the papers handed out in class. Little guidance is provided on what the journal should look like. We have no doubt that the girls in class are much better able to master this skill than the boys--and we're not sure what it has to do with their learning (tests count for less than 40%).
Kids need some help with organizational skills, but there's no "one size fits all" approach, and it certainly shouldn't penalize a kid who otherwise learns the material.
In any event, we think it's high time that our leading educators get together and figure out what's going on with boys in our education system. It's not the boys who are failing--it's the system.