Friday, January 27, 2006

So who gets to define normal, anyway?

Experts Say Biology Makes It Harder for Boys to Behave

The problem is, define behave. So boys act like boys. What's the big deal? Our society has defined that boisterous behavior is "not behaving." Isn't this just as wrong as saying that being willing to sit still for hour after hour is abnormal?

Why should we define "behaving" or "normal" in such a way as to exclude 50% of our kids from that category? What about a girl who likes to be active?

Well, if it's tough to control the classroom, sedate those suckers!! Give 'em drugs because we don't want to have to find a way to educate them that accomodates/utilizes their behavior.

Doug Anglin complains that his high school makes it easier for girls than for boys to succeed academically, and the Massachusetts teenager is now trying to prove it to the federal government.

It may sound like sour grapes, but some experts believe Anglin has a point.

In the complaint that he lodged with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, Anglin, 17, claimed that girls faced fewer restrictions from teachers at Milton High School in Milton, Mass., and that boys were more likely to be punished.

"The system is designed to the disadvantage of males," Anglin told The Boston Globe. "From the elementary level, they establish a philosophy that if you sit down, follow orders and listen to what they say, you'll do well and get good grades. Men naturally rebel against this."

The complaint comes at a time when boys' struggles in school are getting close examination. According to a 2005 report by the Educational Equity Center of the Academy for Educational Development in Washington D.C., boys around the country are increasingly falling behind girls academically, and are more likely to get suspended. And experts told ABC News that Anglin's assessment has merit and describes what prevails in most American classrooms.

"I think he's got it basically right, although I don't believe the system was set up purposely to hurt boys," said William Pollack, director of the Centers for Men and Young Men at McLean Hospital of Harvard Medical School.

Pollack and others noted that in general young boys in kindergarten and first grade are not able to behave as well as girls due to biological and social differences. He said that up until fifth grade, boys require five to seven recesses a day, though most get just one. "With a boy who squirms, you take away his recess," he said, "so then he either acts out and we say he's a discipline problem, or he's very active and we say he has hyperactivity."


"We have the data about learning-style differences and behavior-style differences," he said. "This is not a win-lose circumstance. It's not teachers against parents, parents against schools, boys against girls. It's a win-win. We recognize what we now know and use it."
Pollack also said:
The increased focus on testing in schools has also ratcheted up pressure on young students, he said. "In kindergarten, I had to learn … to socialize," he said. "Today they read and write. Some boys can. Most can't. There's a biological component."
Wow, what a thing to say! Can you imagine the reaction if someone stated that girls can't do something because of a "biological component?" We can't even argue that girls don't make good football players in high school without someone bringing up that girl that went to my second cousin's friends school in Mississippi who was the best football player at her school.

UPDATE: I would like to point out that DrHelen wrote about this as well. Her comments here.

Last night I listened to the podcast from Glenn and Helen with Norah Vincent. Get it here. Norah talked about how men don't have it as easy as many women, and some men, think they do. Specifically, she commented that many men don't know what they are missing. Men don't understand or appreciate the "freedoms" they are missing out on, because they have never had them. As a woman masquerading as a man, Norah felt limited in ways that she had not been as a woman, and missed them.

Boys growing up nowadays don't know that they are normal, just different from girls. Our educators should stop trying to force round pegs into square holes and using Ritalin as grease.