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Boys are people too

Experts finally realize that male children have unique educational and social needs

Except for specific comments by Fathers for Life, the opinions presented on this page are not necessarily those of Fathers for Life.


Posted with permission:

The Report, April 29, 2002, p. 51

Boys are people too


Experts finally realize that male children have unique educational and social needs

By RICK HIEBERT


The accepted wisdom in modem western culture is that girls face a variety of problems growing up because of society's patriarchal and sexist nature. Last month in Toronto, however, teachers, psychologists and youth workers from across Canada gathered to discuss a crisis in boyhood—problems, some say, exacerbated by ignorance and feminist bias.
   U.S. scholar Christina Hoff Sommers' 2000 book, The War Against Boys, argues there is, indeed, a feminist prejudice against boys. Experts ignore boys' problems, produce studies with shoddy or non-existent research alleging male privilege, and want to "rescue" boys from their masculinity, she asserts.[1]
   But, according to Health Canada, Canadian boys suffer 60% of all physical abuse of children, 55% of neglect, 47% of all psychological abuse and 51% of sexual abuse. "We [mistakenly] believe that boys can take care of themselves, that they are tough, that they don't need nurturing," says Fred Matthews, Central Toronto Youth Services' director of research and co-chairman of the Toronto conference. "There's a real lack of knowledge amongst teachers and other helpers about the unique needs of the male child."
   Society seems to think violence or psychological abuse against boys is acceptable or even funny, Mr. Matthews continues. For example, the media downplays the seduction of boys by older women. "Elm Street magazine published a profile of the B.C. teacher who slept with her student and put the teacher, looking pretty, on their cover, with the caption 'Is this a sexual predator?' The magazine would not treat a male teacher who had slept with a girl that way," he believes.[2]
   Canada would be wise to adopt British programs that target young male offenders, Mr. Matthews says, or give boys remedial help. "We need to find ways to put boys' exuberance, leadership qualities and energy to good use, instead of crushing them," he says. "Perhaps we need to look at boys-only schools, at least for part of the day."
   Another expert worries that change, based on a better understanding of the male psyche, might be difficult to achieve, however. "The field is far more female-dominated than it used to be," says Chuck MacKnee, a Trinity Western University psychology professor. "Two-thirds to three-quarters of those taking graduate studies in psychology are women. Even with no gender bias, some of the boy-specific issues may just be overlooked."
   Society must face up to the fact that boys are falling behind in schools and universities, he adds. One solution would be to encourage the strengthening of families. "Boys can be more challenging to raise, but that doesn't mean that girls an 'better,"' Prof. MacKnee says. "Boys are different than girls, and society needs to remember that."

Common sense for a too-common problem

Schoolteachers need not bother consulting Canada's faculties of education for help in teaching boys more effectively. Most such institutions seem more interest[ed] in propagating feminism than providing practical solutions to a problem that sees boys dropping out of schools more often than girls, graduating with lower marks and taking fewer post-secondary courses.
   Nevertheless, an increasing number of teachers have discovered a common-sense book on the subject, Boys and Girls Learn Differently!, published last year by U.S. educator Michael Gurian. Among many useful ideas, he suggests boys and girls be separated during their middle school years (Grades 6-8), because it "is the time of greatest hormonal upheaval."
   An "ultimate" elementary classroom, responsive to boys' needs, would:

  • use boys-only groups when appropriate;

  • encourage close bonding between teacher and student;

  • appreciate boys' "normal Huck Finn male energy" and direct it toward learning and character development;

  • pay special attention to the more sensitive and less competitive males;

  • allow physical movement in the class;

  • allow boys to engage in plenty of physical activity, from hugging the teacher to getting "down-and-dirty" during recess;

  • ensure there are men in boys' educational life, especially from Grade 5 onward;

  • never allow chairs to be kept in a row before Grade 3;

  • offer plenty of storytelling "to help the male brain develop its imaginative and verbal skills";

  • give boys lots of things to touch and otherwise sense, "especially when reading and writing are being taught."

   It should come as no surprise to any student of human nature that Mr. Gurian's ideas work. 'The insights and innovations in Boys and Girls Learn Differently! have been applied in our classrooms with phenomenal success," said Dan Colgan, superintendent of schools in St. Joseph, Missouri, "leading to better academic performance and better behaviour."

TERRY 0'NEILL

April 29, 2002 The Report

Index to more articles from The REPORT

The Report
Copyright 2002 United Western Communications Ltd.
All Rights Reserved.


Notes by FFL:

  1. The War Against Boys, by Christina Hoff Sommer, Book information and links to review and article

  2. See also The Invisible Boy, by Frederick Matthews, quote from, and information on study report

The Report Newsmagazine, a Canadian independent conservative newsmagazine, was an avid supporter of families and promoter of pro-family discussions.  Check out a sample of articles from The Report.

See also:

Feminism For Male College Students A Short Guide to the Truth, by Angry Harry (Off-Site)

White RoseThe White Rose
Thoughts are Free

__________________
Posted 2002 05 03
Updates:
2006 03 04 (added link to Feminism for Male College Students)