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Boys at the Back

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Boys are falling back, what can we do to help them?

The author, Christina Hoff Sommers, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, in her article The Boys at the Back published in the New York Times in 2013, addresses the gap that exists between boys and girls and the impact that this has on them and society in general. Sommers is the author of ‘‘The War Against Boys’’ a book that also comments the social and educational problems that boys are facing and supports that they should be given help in order to do better(par.5,p.2) As mentioned in the article according to a study in the Journal of Human Resources, teachers incorporate in their grades good behavior. Boys get lower grades as they are rated as less proficient due to their classroom behavior and not just their test results. Girls by nature tend to be attentive in class, are more persistent and eager to learn. Boys’ nature is unable to adopt to a system that is more ‘‘feelings-centered’’, ‘‘risk averse’’, ‘‘collaboration-oriented and sedentary’’(par.6,p.2).

According to the study of the economist Andrew M.Sum and his colleagues at the Center of Labor Market and Science, society low-income, black, Latino boys rate even lower(par.2,p.3) Girls are in an advantageous position and as stated by Christopher M. Cornewell and his colleague David B. Mustard and Jessica Van Parys of Columbia University state ‘‘If grade disparities emerge this early on, it’s not surprising that by the time these children are ready to go to college, girls will be better positioned’’ (qtd in Sommers,par.7,p.2). In her article Sommers also comments on the opinion of some who support that if girls manage to do better than boys because they are more organized and attentive then it is fair to progress more than boys.

Girls have indeed struggled over the past years to achieve a place in society and education however, as Sommers points out, when girls were behind, society ‘‘mounted to give a concerted effort to give them support’’(par.4,p2), so fairness should be to give the same support to boys to achieve progress. Sommers supports that society should take action to correct the situation. Her opinion is backed by Richard Whitmire, an education writer and William Brozo, a literacy expert who write ‘‘the global economic race we read so much about – the marathon to produce the most educated work force, and therefore the most prosperous nation – really comes down to a calculation: whichever nation solves these ‘boy troubles’ wins the race’’ (qtd Sommers, par.1,p.3). The problem, as noted by the author, could be addressed by incorporating diverse methods of teaching, one being single-sex schools with more male teachers.

Another example is the British, the Canadians and the Australians who have addressed the problem of male underachievement and are experimenting with programs to help them become more organized and attentive by including teaching methods that are more boy-friendly and campaigns to encourage male literacy. Sommers uses the successful example of Aviation High School in New York City, that gives emphasis on organization, precision, workmanship and keeping students busy and fascinated so they do not have time to misbehave (par.2-3, p4). The article clarifies that the existing gap should not be addressed on an individual basis but it is an issue that concerns the whole society.

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