The Boy Report
Why we should shift the paradigm to save our boys
-Michelle Kemper Brownlow
“Mrs. Brownlow, he is very busy. I can’t seem to get him to focus.”
“Is he finishing his work?”
“Well, yes, but then he is talking or making kids laugh.”
“Can he work on something else when he finishes?”
“But then he will be way beyond the other children. I need to keep them all at the same level.”
Two weeks later, at my request, my “has-too-much-energy” son was tested. I was called with the results. It was exactly what I predicted, he was gifted! He now receives special assignments from the gifted teacher that he can work on when he completes a task ahead of time. His teachers report that he is quite the leader and very mature for his age. Without that test, I am sure his boredom would have turned to trouble-making and the downward spiral would have begun.
Are we giving our boys a fighting chance or just writing them off as energy mongers who can’t seem to control themselves? US News & World Report states that schools are refusing to cater classes to the learning style of boys for fear of giving them “special treatment.” There is evidence to support that boys get kicked out of preschool four and a half times more often than girls, boys have a harder time focusing, and by the year 2016, only 40 percent of college undergraduates will be male. Are we doing this to them?
As a mom of two boys, I am hoping for teachers who will cater to my sons’ learning styles. We all have experienced a boy’s energy at one time or another and it’s off the charts. They can’t sit still. Their urge to move and roughhouse waxes and wanes every 4.7 seconds. Yet, schools are shortening recess and in some cases deleting it from the schedule to add more academics to the day. Where does that leave my boys? Sitting on their hands and daydreaming about getting off the bus? This is not very conducive to getting grades that will get them into an Ivy League school.
Peg Tyre investigates why schools will not change the curriculum for boys in her New York Times Bestseller, The Trouble with Boys. She has been featured on the Today Show, and in Newsweek and USA Today & World Report‘s blog. Reason enough to put this book on my “What to grab while I am out at the bookstore” list.
Before I had my children, I was a teacher. I prided myself in knowing each of my students as individuals and I allowed for the unique personalities. I did not, however, give boys the luxury of acting like apes and brushing it off that they needed to “be boys.” There is a fine line. As parents we need to be active in our boys’ lives. Get in their classrooms. Join the parent/teacher groups. Run for the school board. We may be their only advocate.
Michelle Kemper Brownlow lives with her husband and three children (two of which are boys) in southeastern PA. She has been an at-home mom for 11 years and writes for regional parenting magazines and for parenting sites on the Web. She mommy blogs at My Semblance of Sanity.