Why Johnny Won’t Read (Washington Post)

More on the growing gender gap in terms of school achievement. This Washington Post article focuses on the decline of reading among boys. Reading has declined for both boys and girls, but more for boys.

The author suggests political correctness might deserve much of the blame. Though current offerings to young people include lots of strong and heroic female characters,

Few strong and active male role models can be found as lead characters. Gone are the inspiring biographies of the most important American presidents, inventors, scientists and entrepreneurs. No military valor, no high adventure. On the other hand, stories about adventurous and brave women abound. Publishers seem to be more interested in avoiding “masculine” perspectives or “stereotypes” than in getting boys to like what they are assigned to read.

From examining my own psyche and observing many boys, not the least of which are my grandsons, I believe that many boys are genetically predisposed to slaying dragons. Though this makes civilizing them somewhat difficult (lots of studies confirm male children are harder to socialize, and more likely to become involved in crime during teens and early twenties) it’s not simply a bad trait, since it so happens that dragons are in plentiful supply and seem to be multiplying.

Expect more on this, since Laura Bush has made helping boys succeed her issue for the next four years and since the National Endowment for the Humanities is doing followup studies.

In addition to putting boys into contact with stories they like--"adventure tales, war, sports and historical nonfiction"--two other things seem worth thinking about. One, supporting a fairly widespread interest in big hard drives and other macho computer tech (I’m told boys today like computers in somewhat the way boys in the 1950s liked cars) and paying attention to the almost ready to explode development of educational gaming software.

Note to Jeff and other parnoid delusionals: log on using (that’s Winston Smith) and for a password use the project’s phone number: 7452600

Posted by Michael L Umphrey on 01/26 at 05:00 AM
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