Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Educating boys

Here’s a piece on educating boys that speaks to our experience with our son. A snippet:

Beginning in very early grades, the sit-still, read-your-book, raise-your-hand-quietly, don’t-learn-by-doing-but-by-taking-notes classroom is a worse fit for more boys than it is for most girls. This was always the case, but we couldn’t see it 100 years ago. We didn’t have the comparative element of girls at par in classrooms. We taught a lot of our boys and girls separately. We educated children with greater emphasis on certain basic educational principles that kept a lot of boys "in line" -- competitive learning was one. And our families were deeply involved in a child’s education.

Yup. That’s one of the reasons why our kids are educated at home, rather than in school.

Discussions - 12 Comments

Seconded Professor K.

I sit now in the library of the Center for Christian Studies at UVA, in front of a fire during our first snow. Every single guy, without exception, who comes into the room, plays with the fire at least once. Virtually none of the girls do. Amazing. And yet the Curry School (UVA Ed dept.) contends there are no basic learning differences between genders. Hmm.

Caleb: Very interesting note. Thanks for that. Enjoy the fire (and your books). By the way, have you read Marsden’s "Jonathan Edwards: A Life"? Any thoughts on it? Thanks.

Wow, Caleb, your profound fireside observation pretty much refutes everything that the Curry School (allegedly) collectively stands for, eh? Send ’em your blog post and they should close up shop within a couple days.

Oh, MES has denoted one of his odious sarcastic bombs. Ouch. I guess that’s the end of this could we match his wit or native intellect?


I haven’t read Marsden’s book yet - I’ll add it to my Christmas list though. I love grad school, despite having to grade 60+ 10page undergrad papers. I’m sitting in front of a fire (that yes, a UVA male undergrad is starting), looking at the window at a valley covered in snow, surrounded by books on executive power and presidential prerogative, others on interpreting the constitution, and the complete writings of Hamilton and Madison. What could be better?

M.E.S. I’m not sure if you want a response or just felt like leaving a negative retort...I wasn’t offering my single observation as a refutation of modern education...simply as additional ancedotal evidence that there are gender differences. Interestingly, when we talked about this in discussion with my students this semester, in my 5PM section there was a 3rd year female psychology major who adamantly maintained that psychology had "proven" all gender differences are socialized. In my 6PM section there was a 3rd year biology major who adamantly maintained that biology had "proven" that some gender differences are natural. Hmmm....

Back to writing...

Anyone who wants to see natural gender differences should come to my house where my two-year-old crashes cars all day long and plays with trucks while my small daughter plays with her dolls,
reads books, and has her "little people"
cooperate. Of course, I have also done a lot of socializing because I don’t want my son to be a wimp nor my daughter a man.

I have two girls..both of them play with dolls and their princesses...and both of them ride four wheelers, "hunt" with their daddy, play monsters and other "boy" type games. I have a hard time swallowing this arguement. There are many girls in 10th grade that are just as fidgity and disruptive in class as the’s just that we tend to write of the girls behavior as being "talkative" or fliratous.

Sounds about right to me, Hizzoner!!! Once again, the distinguished Mayor hits it right on the head! No one wants his boy to turn out like some little sissy, just as no one hopes his lil’ gal turns out to be some hog-ridin’ butch!

Please note that no one is saying that there is a one-size-fits-all stereotype for "The Boy" and "The Girl." Some boys (I was one of them) prosper in a classroom that prizes sitting still and doing one’s work dutifully (though I was not then and am not now neat). Some girls are kinetic.

But that strikes me as just another argument for an education that’s as "personalized" as possible.

Caleb - I think the location, the population sample, and the period of time of your observations should be taken into greater account when drawing any conclusions or considering your anecdote as "evidence."

Dain - Why would I need to "denote" something that I said? Was that a hint of humility there in your last question, or are you employing sarcasm - "the last defense of the Left"??

Back around 1974, I was talking to my high school science teacher. He said that when he was working toward his Master’s in education, he did some preliminary research and came to the conclusion stated above, that school was better designed for girls than for boys. His advisor said, "These are very interesting results. Choose a different topic for your thesis. You’ll have a better chance."

I was not much of a conservative when I began our family and we tried to teach our first son not to be rough. We decided when he was an infant not to buy him guns and when we found a doll in a box of hand-me-downs, we let the two year old him have it because he seemed interested. He named the doll Mary, and was delighted with her, throwing her up in the air and catching her, bathing her by tossing her by one leg in the tub and then drying her by placing her gently in the center of a towel, folding it over her, and swinging her around so centrifugal force dried her naturally. Paint sticks became swords, even clothes pins or crayons might become guns aimed at imaginary assailants. When my husband pretended to be a bear once, while playing that they were camping in the woods under a blanket-and-chairs tent, he snarled, "Fight like a man" and my son brought a loaded finger from behind his back and shot that bear dead. We gave up and bought him the noisy machine gun he wanted for the next Christmas.

We had five sons, and then we had a daughter, a late surprise. I suspected she might seem different, but honestly did not know she would be different from so very soon after birth. After being amazed at the differences between the five previous characters, I was not prepared for how very different she would prove to be. She was much more easily startled, did NOT like her father’s rough play which had always gone down well with the guys, responded more strongly to heat and cold, colors and even smells. She was different in dozens of ineffable, indescribable ways.

Later, she happily played "guns" with them, but if they shot at her she cried. If they were rough with each other, that bothered her, too. At about eighteen months when she heard we were going swimming, she jumped up in the air shouting "Thwimming!" and by the time she landed it was in a crumpled sobbing heap because she did not know where her bathing suit was. We ALL wondered how she had done it.
My daughter is far rougher than girls raised in a more feminine environment, as with all sisters. Her claims that we have not "understood" her are met with agreement all around. Her attempts to be boyish have been laughable parodies, but she can be as boorish any of the guys, but true masculinity escapes her. We are not sorry about that. The androgynous in our society do not seem to be happy folk.

Each of the examples of girls behaving in a rough manner given here or anywhere else I have read always refer to girls who have been socialized. That is, they are girls who are half raised already, riding 4-wheelers or acting up in class. How much of their behvior is learned?

Even the expectation of and insistence on a college education is so that those women can compete in what they think of as a "man’s" world. There is little shelter for a woman other than in academia these days. Parents nor young women, themselves, can count on good men and sound marriages. Women are expected NOT to stay home, and where else is there to go to compete, where safer, than in the arena of the mind?

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