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The Trouble with Boys by Peg Tyre

on August 11, 2014

The trouble with boys : a surprising report card on our sons, their problems at school, and what parents and educators must do

The Trouble with Boys: A Surprising Report Card on our Sons, Their Problems at School, and What Parents and Educators Must Do by Peg Tyre

Peg Tyre provides a sobering look at how the modern school system is failing boys. Boys nationwide, across all lines of wealth and poverty are straggling behind girls. Boys are less motivated, less inclined to participate in school activities. This goes from homework to extracurriculars (not including sports). Since so much effort has been put into supporting and promoting female success at school, the success of the boys has fallen by the wayside.

One of Tyre’s main points is that this is a highly controversial topic. How do you discuss supporting boy curricula without is coming across as anti-girl? Boys and girls learn differently. Tyre discusses that in-depth in her book using a number of examples and studies. She visits schools and speaks with teachers and administrators across the nation. As it stands, boys are suffering. Boys are constantly trying to be reformed to be less aggressive, more docile and that is not cohesive with the developmental milestones. Boys are squirmy, they are wiggly. They cannot sit still for hours on end. Schools are cutting back on recess and lunch hours, and in the end, boys are being misdiagnosed with ADHD all because they don’t have the space or time to exert their extra energy. It’s very troubling to me, a mother of a young son. I already worry about his education in California (one of the worst ranked in the nation), but to add this on top of my other concerns is just disheartening. Tyre does end each chapter with advice for parents, teachers and administrators. The book is about 6 years old, so I do wish she would update this edition. I’d love to know what the state of the national school system is now, particularly with the introduction of the Common Core standards.

Tyre discusses a wide-range of options, solutions and explanations for why boys are struggling in the school system. Often, it starts when they are very young, and are somewhat forced to sit still and learn in a setting that is not conducive to their learning styles. Boys are highly visual learners, they learn by doing, not so much by rote memorization. The new trend is early education is really leaving the boys struggling. They usually lag behind girls in verbal and gross motor skills. By Kindergarten, most boys are still having trouble holding a pencil, when they are supposed to be writing daily journals. This can discourage boys from succeeding in school because it seems like they are set up to fail from the start.

One of the reasons why I love my child’s daycare, is because they promote play so heavily right now. He is only 18 months, but even my husband was asking me if he should be learning something in daycare. It seems like there should really be a public discourse and debriefing about how much children learn from play. They establish all the foundation for future academic learning through play periods in their childhood. I feel like I have an advantage as a librarian, being able to cull a number of resources and citations to explain why play is so much more important for my child than being drilled on the alphabet. But I wonder what other parents are hearing. Is that why Baby Einstein videos are so popular? It seems like a cheap way out. I want my child to grow and learn at his own pace, but that doesn’t seem to jive with what the modern-day school system is demanding. I learned how to read in 1st grade, now most kids are expected to read or at the very least, fully know the alphabet before entering Kindergarten. Is too much expected of kids these days? Is all of our talk and promotion of Read, Talk, Sing pushing kids to exceed what is developmentally appropriate?

This is a great book for parents of boys, especially the highly active ones. I feel like I am more on-alert about his proclivities and personality. I feel more prepared for whatever future discussions I’ll have with teachers about his classroom participation.

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