June 16, 2006

Visualizing the school that favors boys as much as school really does favor girls.

Responding to a recent David Brooks column (TimesSelect link) that looked at why boys are doing so much worse than girls at school, a professor of medicine named Nelson D. Horseman has a great letter in today's NYT:
Imagine a school where the vast majority of teachers and administrators are men and where competitive sports are compulsory.

Imagine that students get rewarded for being overtly aggressive in school and that there is a zero tolerance policy for being passive.

Imagine getting extra credit for resisting authority, and having points deducted for being compliant with arbitrary rules and meaningless deadlines.
Well, I would have loved a school like that when I was a kid, but the point is, on the average, that would favor boys and hurt girls.

"A zero tolerance policy for being passive" -- that's my favorite part of Horseman's visualization. It's what law school once was, before we backed off. Change one letter in "Horseman" and you get "Houseman."

I can't resist ending this post by saying one of my favorite teachers was a poetry professor -- a male! -- who especially loved to quote the line:
Cast a cold eye
On life, on death.
Horseman, pass by!

86 comments:

Jennifer said...

What I wouldn't give to put my son in a school like that.

Robert said...

Let's have two sets of schools. One set outrageously favors and pampers boys. The other outrageously favors and pampers girls. Parents can decide which school to send each individual child - and we end up with self-selected single-sex educational Nirvana.

Slocum said...

Let's add: where grades depend on knowledge rather than compliance -- on mastery of the material rather than attendance, hitting homework deadlines day after day after day. Where group projects are not mandatory. Where Math and Science are not turned into subdisciplines of English ('writing across the curriculum').

Balfegor said...

Would that model really favour boys? In some ways, I think it might, but in others, I wonder whether such a lax educational environment actually works to the benefit of young boys. They came out pretty well under the old public school model, where you were beaten mercilessly for the slightest infraction, where the older boys were encouraged to torment the younger (I am reminded of the scene in Saki's comic novel The Unbearable Bassington, where they prepare a young boy for a beating by drawing a chalk line across his backside, so as to ensure that every blow of the switch will fall in the same place), and a general climate of totalitarian snitching and suspicion was encouraged.

I mean, when people talk about how in the old days, school was calibrated better for boys, that's what they're talking about, isn't it? The authoritarianism and the beating, that is.

Joseph Hovsep said...

When you ended with a reference to Houseman and a poetry professor, I thought at first you were invoking A.E. Housman, who wrote one of my favorite--if simple--poems, The Laws of God, the Laws of Man. Alas, I was wrong.

Marghlar said...

Imagine a school where the vast majority of teachers and administrators are men and where competitive sports are compulsory.

That actually sounds like my high school, where both were true.

But otherwise, I wonder if this would really help boys in the long run. To a significant degree, really confrontational behavior is not a great asset in the modern world. Rather than focus on extremes, schools should be working to foster that middle ground between uesless passivity and irritating aggressiveness.

And Ann, wasn't it true that even in the old days rudeness was never tolerated by law students? That you were rewarded for being asserted and arguing for your viewpoint, but certainly not for speaking uncivily?

Because that sounds more like the middle ground that what this M.D. is describing. And since all of this male/female behaviorial dichotomy is more a tendency than an absolute (as you yourself point out), shouldn't we be favoring a socialization model that allows the sexes to work together well?

Ann Althouse said...

Marghlar: Horseman is trying to get us going. A workable version of what he's talking about sounds like old-style law school. "Resisting authority" wouldn't be disorder, but professional argument.

Marghlar said...

Such a style would suit me very well...I'm not sure it would suit very many of my classmates, many of whom prefer to sit quietly and absorb information.

And I do think it's important to find a balance, to find an environment when boys and girls can be socialized together, so that they have similar enough styles that they can work together effectively.

But I agree with the overall point. Education has become too passive and regurgitative. Too much "tell me what I'm supposed to think." A few steps in this direction could do a lot of good for both boys and girls.

Coco said...

But I agree with the overall point. Education has become too passive and regurgitative. Too much "tell me what I'm supposed to think."

Given the importance and proclivity of standardized testing in our current system, is there any way that the above CANNOT be the case? I can't think of one.

slocum: "Let's add: where grades depend on knowledge rather than compliance -- on mastery of the material rather than attendance, hitting homework deadlines day after day after day. Where group projects are not mandatory."

That's called law school for the most part. And women seem to excel there as much if not more than men. Undergrad education is somewhat of a transition to this type of environment - but certainly has its share of mandatory attendance and group projects, quizes, homework, etc. ANd this is for a reason - the great majority of adolesecents (and certainly children) don't have the discipline for such an environment...and neither do their parents, sadly. You or your kids might but that isn't the grand reality. Children need to lean to be responsible on a daily basis.....children need to lean to work well with others and succeed as a group. This isn't to say that the educatinal system doesn't need a thorough overahaul, just to say its not nearly as simple as suggested.

Bruce Hayden said...

Some of it I think is good, but not all of it. I would think a military academy type of school might work fairly well for a lot of boys. For a lot of them, knowing the rules and having them enforced fairly strictly seems to be advantageous.

I think that mandatory athletics is good for both the sexes. Schools that have such seem to have a very different dynamic. For example, the hang out place is not the mall, but the gym after practice.

I really do like the idea of grading on how much they know and learn, and not how well they get their homework in would be quite beneficial. And having a way to challenge authority in a structured way (without being disrespectful) would also be good for a lot of boys.

altoids1306 said...

Believe it or not, I think East Asia has pretty good schools for boys. In my middle school and high school, there were rigid rules, but also plenty of room for rebellion.

Our school banned soft drinks, so a few of us ran a clandestine operation. In our heyday, before the school shut us down, we were selling 100+ units a day, with a 60% profit margin. We bought illegal firecrackers the size of our fists, put them in plastic bottles, and blew them up in a nearby pond. We broke into school after hours to watch movies on the big screen.

On the other hand, teachers' authority was never in question, there was no one who would ever raise a hand or even their voice against a teacher. We knew which lines couldn't be crossed.

As for gender stereotyping, there wasn't too much of it. The summer uniform for women included skirts. During daily cleaning, boys invariably got the outside yardwork (clearing the gutter, sweeping the track), while girls got indoor jobs (cleaning windows, sweeping classroom floor). And boys were regularly conscripted at random to do menial work by teachers ("You two, take these stacks of newspapers to the dumpster!").

ModNewt said...

Coco's comment about standardized testing was one of the first thing I thought of when reading this topic, but mostly I thought about how my experience in the 80s was so different from what is being argued here.

I transfered high school after my sophomore year. My first 2 years were spent in a rigid, boys only Catholic school. There were no beatings, but there were other forms of physical punishment such as "air chairs" and digging ditches (and promptly filling it back in when finished). 90% of my teachers were men. Athletics were manditory.

Some boys thrived in this environment, I did not. I hit puberty late (i'm 6'2", 200 now) and was physically beaten, spat on, etc by jocks. Many of these kids were admired and accepted by the brothers/fathers/sisters and secular teaches at the school.

I transfered to a more laid back co-ed environment that would be close to the opposite of what is described by Horseman. I thrived there, and ended up going to a fine university in Texas. I believe if I had stayed at the catholic school I would be much worse off than I am today. The reality is I was lucky enough to have parents who A) had parents financially secure enough to transfer me between private schools ang B) were involved enough to be aware that I was struggling.

So much of these differences I suspect go back to parenting. If your kid is having a tough time in an school because of the environment not being suited to his or her style, get the kid out of there.

Slocum said...

I mean, when people talk about how in the old days, school was calibrated better for boys, that's what they're talking about, isn't it? The authoritarianism and the beating, that is.

The best calibration seemed to be about when I graduated from high school (late 70's). That was the time when boys and girls were going away to higher education at nearly equal rates (as opposed to the roughly 60-40 we're seeing now). We don't need the brutality of the English public school, we just need to clean away a couple of decades of ed fads.

P. Froward said...

I'm with Joseph Hovsep! I was like "Malt? Milton? Law school? WTF?!"

Ann Althouse said...

Well, I was just talking about law school, so why are you surprised that my link was about law school!

P. Froward said...

No, it was A. E. Housman in the law-school-post context, that confused me. I was confused before I clicked it. You were quoting poetry, after all, so Housman made perfect sense.

Then I got to the Amazon page and it was a bald guy with what looked like Cambridge floating over his head. I was like, Housman wore a bowtie? Well, he came to the right place for it... But I gather that's somebody else.

Ann Althouse said...

P: Then you weren't reading sequentially. I only bring up something about poetry that, in a separate paragraph.

MIke K said...

My high school was very much like the one mentioned. It was run by Irish Christian Brothers and there was little nonsense tolerated. It was an all boys school but there were all girls Catholic high schools nearby and our social life was active.

Two examples of discipline. We had a study hall one afternoon a week and the brother who was the monitor had a habit of going to sleep while studied or created very quiet mischief. One day he woke up and caught a big kid doing something he shouldn't have. When the brother began to scold the student, the student got disrespectful. He was a head taller than the brother and outweighed him about 30 pounds. The brothers' response was to suggest they go down to the gym, put on boxing gloves and they would see who was tougher. Shortly after, the kid found out that the brother had been a champion amateur boxer in Ireland.

The day we took the SAT, there was no fuss about practice SATs or prep course. We were told that we were taking a test and were marched down to the study hall. I took the SAT and that was that.

Six months later, I was accepted to Cal Tech so I guess our education wasn't too bad. To this day, I don't know my score.

That high school continues to this day as an all black boys school in Chicago. It is one of the few Catholic schools that survive in the inner city.

Quadraginta said...

Christ, I'd even put my daughter in such a school. Not all girls favor endless tea-ceremony ritual, a prissy focus on meeting deadlines, and numberless group-hug projects. I don't think people are trying to build schools that favor girls, I think it's more that public school teachers are almost all women -- and a particular class of women, at that -- and their natural instinct when confronted by some tricky problem (of which there are many when it comes to educating children) is to increase the amount of nonconfrontational everyone-wins but no-one-dissents chicken soup for the soul ritual.

It's true girls tend to do better than boys under that burden, but I don't think even girls do well. I suggest the fact that there are more girls than boys in college doesn't mean girls are doing better these days, I think it just means they're not doing as more badly as the boys.

Mark Spittle said...

Yep, good is bad, and bad is good. As always, conservatives value aggression (which leads to violence) over pacifism (which leads to, ... well, no violence.) War is peace, and all that. Toss out the entire core of human existance and social values and even the values we are hardwired with at birth: not to kill, not to hurt, and to continue the species, not end it.

Instead, conservatives want the entire formula for human experience reversed. Now aggression against others is honorable, nay, EXPECTED, and anything wherein people treat each other with respect and dignity is considered evil, wrong, "bleeding heart." (Unless it's freeing Iraqis from tyranny, then it's not bleeding heart liberalism, but American values. But only in that case. Letting Mexicans free oppression, or Haitians, etc.... no, that's bleeding heart Liberalism again.)

The fact that all of these positions -- pro militarism at home, pro puppet democracy abroad -- result in one thing -- the conversion of tax dollars to military contractor profits -- is of no concern to bloggers in these parts. They're too stupid to realize they're playing the game. And they make money doing it (or hope to, anyway.)

So go ahead and make your macho schools. Drain bleeding heart liberalism from society. Do away with personal dignity, decency between individuals, love, neighborliness, society. Get rid of "government." Eventually the students in schools such as you propose will feed on each other just like majority Republicans and competing CEOs and all the rest. The children will turn on their parents, because in their eyes those parents are weak. It's happened before, and will happen again, but this time in America.

And those of you posting your ignorant praise of these notions will be the first victims of it. Which is, in itself, darkly hilarious.

You can redefine the language of humanity all day long, but you can't redefine humanity itself. Not in the long term.

Cro said...

I didn't go to a high scool like that, but I did go to a college like that. It's called West Point, and it has been fairly successful at turning out great leaders. Perhaps there is precedence for such a high school.

vnjagvet said...

Mark:

Why is this a question of liberalism (good) vs. conservatism (bad)?

In your mind, isn't there some room for teaching our children the ablility to operate in a world which is still beset by a certain degree of Darwinian conduct among humans?

Or do you think that has been bred out of our species to such an extent that such education is no longer necessary?

Since Darwinian evolution is generally an accepted tenet of the liberal orthodoxy, it would seem that teaching skills to cope with it would be at the top of the list for a "liberal education".

storkdoc said...

Mr Spittle must have a little of that running down his chin.

"Conservatives value aggression (which leads to violence) over pacifism (which leads to, ... well, no violence.)" We do?

Actually I value preparedness over both of the above. Using only pacifism leads only to being walked all over, or the victim of violence itself.

My son and daughter go to karate, not to learn to hurt others, but to learn to defend themselves. This isn't agression, it's common sense.

I went to high school like the one described. An all boys Jesuit high school in Boston. Their goal was to make men who would lead good Christian lives, to make men for God and they do a great job. And they weren't pacifists

jaycurrie said...

The law school I went to twenty years ago valued agression, argument and a certain precision of thought; but it was also pretty harsh on keaners and asshat bingo passed the time in the duller classes.

If we drive back to elementary and high school it seems to me that the entire industrial model of education is pretty much over. The homeschoolers are killing the products of all but the most elite prep schools. this does not have a lot to do with gender; rather it has to do with the fact that there are far fewer impediments to learning in a homeschooling enviornment than in an industrial school.

Let's face it, even the most angelic children grouped together in bunches of 30 would not be an obvious educational strategy. If you wanted to babysit/incarcerate kids classrooms of 30 pupils would make some sense. But teaching is almost always better with smaller numbers.

Until now, the idea of small class sizes was economically impossible. However, the net makes it very possible to teach children in clusters of four or five. What the net can't do is the babysitting.

My wee boys (2 1/2 and 5 1/2) are being taught at home. Not so much "home schooled" as taught the basics, reading, writing and 'rithmetic. though I use the word "taught" loosely. In fact, we simply read to them a couple of hours a day and don't have a tv. Qestions are answered, experiments performed, counting games played, maps read, speeches given, letters printed (and what's the deal with that backward "s") in the course of my wife's day and my day as we both work at home.

The learning goals for the first three years of school are minor. With smart kids - and outside the industrial school system it is surprising how many kids are pretty smart - it's a couple of hours a day. But, critically, it also involves eliminating the major distractions offered by television and other electronics.

If you read biography it is amazing how many of the people who went on to contribute in science, law, literature, art and business - somehow evaded industrial schooling. Admittedly this was easier in the 19th century. But the fact remains that for boys and girls, the industrial school system's main triumphs have been custodial rather than educational.

Gabriel Hanna said...

Mark Spittle:

"...Toss out the entire core of human existance and social values and even the values we are hardwired with at birth: not to kill, not to hurt, and to continue the species, not end it."

What species is he talking about here? Not the human one, certainly. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors had homicide rates far in excess of ours, even if you don't count infanticide, which is engaged in whenever a child is born too soon after another to the same mother.

See, this is the thing about people like Mark Spittle--he thinks humans are naturally good and it is only "conservatives" who make them bad. But he has this exactly backward, and that is why people like him end up like Neville Chamberlain.

mrsizer said...

Mark does a good job of highlighting the difference between liberals and conservatives: Liberals believe people are good. Conservatives know they are bastards.

The trick for a successfull society (from a conservative viewpoint) is to harness that dastardliness so people can be self-serving and still do public good.

The idea that a socialist dictator might say he wants to help the poor but really just wants unchallenged power never occurrs to a liberal.

The world is a brutal place. Loving kindness is an excellent ideal. In practice it just gets you killed (or just poor).

Wolfe said...

I'll leave aside the aptly named Mr. Spittle's rather odd comments on the nature of humans and conservatives (ably discussed above).

The point I make below is hardly new or original, but Mr Spittle's venom on this subject is a helpful backdrop.

It's interesting that he as a 'bleeding-heart liberal' is so contemptuous of choice -- school choice in this case.

When it comes to a mother deciding to terminate her unborn child, he's presumably pro-choice. It is moral and correct for her to hold the power to choose life or death for her child. Fair enough, though many disagree. [If this isn't his position it certainly is that of the overwhelming majority of the left].

When it comes to her choosing how that (now born) child should be educated, it seems she should not be permitted choice. Similarly, this is the position of almost all the left.

Instead, choice is contemptuously dismissed.

There appears to be intellectual consistency on the part of the conservative who suggests parents should not be able to terminate their children, but that they do have enough judgement to choose their schools.

There similarly appears to be intellectual consistency on the part of the libertarian who suggests that parents should have the power to choose both.

There does not appear to be any intellectual consistency on the left on this matter.

Interesting.

Wolfe.

Frank IBC said...

...Where writing is taught in the context of real-life needs, rather than pointy-headed analysis of boring literature written by people who have been dead for several centuries.

GM Roper said...

Terrific post. I attended a Catholic University in the late 60's. One of my favorite courses was a philosophy course taught by a Marianist brother who said "We are here to teach you how to think, and woe unto the professor that tries to teach you what to think." I'm glad I went there, maybe that's why I'm conservative.

The comment by Mr. Spittle couldn't be more wrong if he tried.

MarcBoston said...

Look, this is too far for me. What you are talking about in reality is like an old school Catholic school (as some posters have mentioned). That sort of environemnt is inevitably dominated by, for lack of a better phrase, gangs of aggressive semi-queerish dudes, from what I've seen. Much like a prison, but with an extra load of hypocracy.

I'm all for making school work better for boys, but why not just do the mandatory athletics, focus on knowledge rather than homework and athletics, and maybe add some more classes where you build real stuff (ie, using this wood, make something that can hold this weight x feet off the ground for 1 day without breaking) instead of glorified art projects.

If you want your boys to go back to self-organizing into gangs to fight off the older boys trying to sodomize them with broomsticks or whatever, send them to the existing private schools that are still like that.

Frank IBC said...

Mark S. -

A liberal someone who spends half his time demanding that the government tax everyone more, and the other half demanding that the government give a fraction of this back as arbitrarily-determined subsidies and "benefits".

Wouldn't it be easier to just let individuals keep the money and let THEM decide how it should be spent?

Frank IBC said...

I attended a public elementary school and a Catholic, all-male (military, even) high school.

Unlike the public school, the catholic school had no bullying, because of a very simple policy - you fight, you get suspended.

Kemper said...

It's called Woodberry Forest School, Orange, Va. The last ALL male boarding school, with NO girls and NO day students. Sports a MUST. Classes on Saturday. 1500 acres of campus 30 miles from UVA with one of the largest high school endowments in nation. Episcopal, private, 30K. Worth every penny, my son graduated last year. And yes they do better and yes they all go to college.

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks to Mr. Spittle for dribbling over here and sparking debate. I agree with Wolfe. We're talking about choice. Those who want things to be nice and sweet may not understand those of us who felt more oppressed by group projects than anything else done to us in school. To have to participate and make arguments is liberating, especially for us girls who were told to be nice and sweet. I can't tell you how much law school meant to me and how much more it would have meant to me if really vivid debate had been unleashed. I had to become a law professor to try to find that.

Mary said...

"...and how much more it would have meant to me if really vivid debate had been unleashed. "

Dave said...

Well, I went to a school like that, namely, a boarding school in Maine and hated it.

But then it was Maine. In winter.

Maybe if it was in Florida I would feel differently.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Perhaps the comment is unnecessary for most of the readers, but I thought it worth pointing out. The school is not responsible for the education of your child, you are. The parent contracts out certain aspects of the educational process to the school.

I recommend, for example, that you teach your children to read before they enter first grade.

Education never stops. You really have to be a bit crazy to do it right.

Mary said...

"There appears to be intellectual consistency on the part of the conservative who suggests parents should not be able to terminate their children, but that they do have enough judgement to choose their schools."

It appears from the comments there is plenty of school choice out there -- as long as you are prepared to foot the bill and sacrifice, if necessary.

I know liberal educators in private schools (Catholic) who have practical concerns regarding seemingly great ideas like partial school vouchers. Namingly, a concern for the those who cannot afford -- even with the partial voucher -- private education.

Perhaps it is religious faith that would have them still concerned with those those students who would be "left behind" - in public schools that would be even more strapped for cash if voucher programs were enacted.

Like it or not, some parts of life are indeed "group projects" in that when taxpayers pay for your child's "choice", something comes out of the group pot.

It's pretty, with no experience in the field, to think that everything could be so simplified in reality though. There's a reason why same-sex Catholic-type schools work for some students, and not for others.

"I suggest the fact that there are more girls than boys in college doesn't mean girls are doing better these days, I think it just means they're not doing as more badly as the boys."

Too bad the focus isn't on improving the educational style for all students affected. When you compare our students to those in other countries, you begin to understand the whole system needs an overhaul. We're getting our asses kicked in math/science, and neither my sister nor brother (both engineers) suspect genetic differences in the sexes is the primary cause.

Zach said...

It sounds like the main difference between the "male" system of education and the "female" system is how they deal with agression. The male systems see aggressiveness as something to be harnessed (competitive sports), channeled (strict Catholic schools) or, indeed, exploited (Reading about old-school military academies, you get the distinct impression that a certain amount of rule-breaking was seen as a leadership quality; law schools where students are expected to fight the teacher a little would be a similar dynamic.)

One way you might be able to improve the current school system for boys would be a little more acceptance and integration of a boy's natural agression into school life. Maybe a reintroduction of spelling bees? Timed tests worth a higher fraction of the grade?

I agree with the comment on group work being the most dreaded part of school. It's really demotivating to think that your work will just be lumped with everybody else's. It's the agression thing again: agressive people like to stand out from the crowd a little.

Squiggler said...

I cannot figure out what kind of schools so many of you went to or that you seem to want to send your kids. I graduated from high school in 1963 and there was nothing passive about girls in my school or on the grade school level either. We played dodge ball with the guys, softball, touch football and our sports programs were every bit as competitive. Girls were, if anything, more aggressive than the boys, especially when it came to student gov't. positions. 99% of my graduating class went on to higher education and about 70% of those got graduate degrees. The way to the A-list was to be a top student or a top athlete, preferably both. This was a public school in Pennsylvania. Were we so very different? Or did things get wimpier by the 70s and 80s.

I think they did as my own son who is now 40, wasn't allowed to walk to school even though we only lived about six blocks away. The playgrounds were fenced and locked down after school and there school dances were done away with because some kids felt left out. It was ridiculous. The same as now with trying to raise kids as if they'll break at the least bit of roughhouse play.

lilybelle's beau said...

In my experience, group projects were never accomplished by the group. They were always accomplished by one or two leaders while the others played free rider. And why not, they got the same grade. Why not take advantage of the achievers on their team. It is true that kids must learn to work in teams to succeed in the organizations most will join as adults. But successful adult teams are not random gaggles. They have a leader, members with skill sets relevant to the mission and accountability for performance of individual tasks that contribute to the team mission. If they perform the team succeeds. If they don't, the team may or may not manage without them but their non-performance will have individual consequences. Kids need to learn that and hand holding doesn't do it.

Mary said...

"I agree with the comment on group work being the most dreaded part of school."

At the lower levels, I would too. But even this has it's learning values. I too was one of those conscientious ones who took the project seriously and did my share of the work.

Once you start to realize though, that others -- often guys, often the intelligent guys -- have no intention of putting an equal share of work into something that will have one grade for all, you learn to adjust your behaviour accordingly. Not become a free rider exactly, but you do learn something from those guys in that situation. Also, in law school, I made my way though alone for the most part, but no doubt study groups can help secure access to previous year's outlines and tests, as well as the more obvious benefit of learning from others, and dividing up readings and class notes so the workload is more comfortable. Pragmatic skills.
-----------

Also, I believe the whole group project thing may be too easily dismissed as "girl work" and may, in fact, be very relevant for some disciplines.

Business school classes -- both undergraduate and MBA for example -- rely heavily on group projects. Some of the benefits of working academically with others on a team may just have trickled down to earlier academic levels.

Wolfe said...

Ann Althouse wrote: Those who want things to be nice and sweet may not understand those of us who felt more oppressed by group projects than anything else done to us in school.

Amen! I could never understand the purpose of group projects throughout elementary, middle, and high school until I grasped it was just that: an attempt to be "nice and sweet" and have neither winners nor losers. I loathed group projects.

And no, Mary, in my experience, inevitably the intelligent students wound up doing almost all the work since they didn't want their grades damaged.

That said, of course there are going to be people for whom that's better. There are going to be boys who thrive in such schools; there are going to be boys (and girls) who thrive in schools where sports are a heavy focus, and boys and girls who thrive in an academically oriented environment emphasizing vigorous competition.

If the antecedents of the quote weren't so horrible, I'd say "Let a hundred flowers bloom; let a hundred schools of thought contend".

Bring on educational choice!

Mary wrote:It appears from the comments there is plenty of school choice out there -- as long as you are prepared to foot the bill and sacrifice, if necessary

If public policy were conducted on the basis of what mostly high-income university-educated types post on Ann Althouse's board, you might be correct.

In the real world, however, there are a goodly number of people who cannot realistically afford private schools for their children.

Your response would appear to be "Too bad for you; you're locked into the cachment area you happen to live in and your children are off to the worst school in the city. You should work harder, make better choices, make more sacrifices, or move."

There's a wonderful rugged individualism behind such a response, but it's not clear to me that it's a legitimate response in a society that's making the effort to fund public education.

You also appear to confuse the issue with your subsequent comments on gender. One of the major points Prof. Althouse has added to this discussion (for me at any rate) is this: it's not just boys suffering from this educational approach.

Perhaps I'm misreading you, but you say "Too bad the focus isn't on improving the educational style for all students affected."

That's exactly the point we're discussing here. There is no one best "educational style" for all students. Running a centrally planned model that attempts to be best for all students is a gateway to disaster. We see this most clearly showing up today in gender differences, with boys suddenly dropping out/failing but that's just the canary in the coal mine. As I said above, this is about choice, not a male/female thing.

If we're going to have public education (and that's one social program I strongly support), then I think it behooves us to have a good public educational system, otherwise we're throwing our money away.

Allowing school choice for parents, and allowing schools themselves to choose how to spend their budgets via an Edmonton(Alberta, Canada)-style weighted funding system appears to deliver significantly better educational results. You can read a brief overview here: http://www.reason.com/0604/fe.ls.the.shtml

Basically, "money follows students to the schools they choose, while guaranteeing that schools with harder-to-educate students get more funds."

You correctly point out that the US is falling behind other countries in K-12 education. Let's look briefly at this.

Alberta's students (remember this is almost all public education) appear to perform alongside Taiwan and Singapore's students (i.e. at the top) in science, and ahead of Japan and Korea's. (And well ahead of the US). And before someone says it; this is nothing to do with oil money; these scores were this way back in the '90's.

Dismissing public education while continuing to pour taxpayer's money into it seems foolish. Insisting on one "educational style" for all students seems equally foolish. Choice -- both by parents and students as well as by competent school administrators on how to spend their funds -- seems key.

-Wolfe

Mary said...

"It appears from the comments there is plenty of school choice out there -- as long as you are prepared to foot the bill and sacrifice, if necessary

If public policy were conducted on the basis of what mostly high-income university-educated types post on Ann Althouse's board, you might be correct."

I think this is weak because that last group often does not know sacrifice, and you assume the others do not. I think you have it backwards -- those living in non-affluent school districts often have greater reason to work their way out or improve their public schools. You don't distinguish between those in the same lower income levels who value education differently, and act accordingly. They are "choosing" already and don't want to subsidize the high income parent's "choice" now for vouchers or private schools.

Father of Girl and Boy said...

My daughter graduated from pre-school yesterday. As a girl, she did wonderfully in pre-school, although she was a little bored. She was rewarded for being able to sit still, pay attention to the teacher for long periods, engage in imaginative play and crafts, and use her verbal skills. On the other hand, she would tell us that the teachers would yell at the boys every day for not sitting still, for running around, for horseplay, for being more boisterous than verbal. The boys were inherently "bad," and needed to learn how to "behave." I have a baby boy now, and I'm genuinely concerned for him when it comes time for school. He's biologically more active than my daughter ever was. At 8 months old, he won't sit still (nor should he). I've grown to think that 4 year old boys should be given some mud and rocks and be allowed to run around and bash each other in the head. At least they would be "boys."

Mary said...

" I've grown to think that 4 year old boys should be given some mud and rocks and be allowed to run around and bash each other in the head."

I agree.
On Saturday, not at school!

CatoRenasci said...

I agree with balfegor that the lax educational environment does not work, although the rest of it does: my undergraduate college was substantially the institution Horseman described but with generally rigorous discipline:

1. The student body was all male, and the faculty and administration was practically all male (I think there was one woman adjunct in my day).

2. Agressiveness was necessary to survive and was rewarded both academically and socially.

3. Because of the level of discipline inherent in the college's model, offically obedience to the rules was not discouraged, it was even required and breaches punished. However, there was an equally strong and important informal system of discipline administered by students which often emphasized adherence to codes which often broke the 'official' rules and those who were punished by the official system for infractions generally approved under the student system, and who behaved with appropriate nonchalance, were rewarded with great social status within the student body.

This college still exists, though it has changed and now admits women.

Last year it was rated by US News as the best public liberal arts college in the US -- and yet I'd venture almost no one who reads or posts here would ever consider letting their son (or daughter) attend: The Viriginia Military Institute

Kory O said...

And I still contend it's not the most intelligent kids doing the majority of the busywork on those high school and under group projects...

Riiiiiight. Speak for yourself. I hated "group projects" because I always seemed to be stuck doing most of the work when the teacher assigned the groups. Had to even out the "talent", don't you know.....which meant you got one or two kids who were serious about doing something, one kid who was easygoing but didn't have a clue and desperately needed the other one or two to order them around, and a couple who were busy sticking their pencils up their nostrils and making walrus sounds.

Maybe that prepared the brighter kids for jobs as fast food restaurant managers, but it didn't encourage us to achieve mastery of the subject.

I will soon be the mother of a little boy, and I will admit that the first thing that popped into my mind when we found out was "how is he going to handle school?"

I just hope that he doesn't get a teacher who insists on putting him on Ritalin because he can't sit still, doesn't pay attention and mouths off (like his mother did.....back in the day when they thought girls couldn't be hyperactive....otherwise I probably would have been medicated, too. I just narrowly escaped getting tagged as "gender confused" because I actually liked wearing dresses.).

With all this emphasis on playing nice, sitting still, achieving consensus and coloring in the lines, I think any parent who sends a little boy to the average school out there is pretty damn gutsy, especially if he happens to be a bright kid. Too many teachers out there seem to have read Harrison Bergeron and taken it as a template on how to deal with their charges, not as a warning.

Mary said...

"...because I always seemed to be stuck doing most of the work when the teacher assigned the groups."

That's not very intelligent. Sounds like a sucker performing for an external reward.
Didn't you learn anything?

Kory O said...

catonerasci, if my son wants to go there, or to a similar school, I'd be happy to send him.

If I have a daughter someday and she wants to attend, that's terrific.

I'd wish them both the best.

And I'm a Subaru-driving liberal! ;)

Kory O said...

That's not very intelligent. Sounds like a sucker performing for an external reward.
Didn't you learn anything?


Um, yes, Mary, I did. I learned later that the idiots with the pencils up their schnozzes have glorious careers in customer service call centers, while I got a scholarship and became the first person in my family (both sides) to go to and graduate from college. If I would have slacked off like those clowns, my GPA would have taken a hit, and I might not have gotten that money for school.

You're right, it was an "external reward" I was aiming for, since my parents, bless their hearts, couldn't afford the college I wanted. (I know it's a shock, really, that not all parents can afford the education that a child wants. Must have been lovely growing up in your sheltered neighborhood. Pardon me if I can't relate.)

I can't wait to hear about their glorious exploits at my next high school reunion. They may have gotten their acts together by then, but I'm not holding my breath.

I learned that even with morons holding you back, you can still produce something of quality that you can be proud of. Yeah, not very intelligent of me to learn that lesson, was it?

I await another one of your condescending comments regarding the above answer with bated breath.

Mary said...

lol. I mean this as a friendly discussion, and hope I haven't crossed any lines for which I should apologize


"If I would have slacked off like those clowns, my GPA would have taken a hit, and I might not have gotten that money for school."

Really think that your GPA would have "taken a hit" ? That sounds like girl thinking. ("Imagine getting extra credit for resisting authority, and having points deducted for being compliant with arbitrary rules and meaningless deadlines.") Maybe instead of playing along, and continually reproducing the ill-desired results, you could have worked "smarter" and not just "harder" to earn your grade. Remember, if we are the government at the local and school levels, you have to take responsibility. You may have felt you were participating "more" by working harder than your peers, but perhaps the person in your group who "sat back" and learned from the group experience and was bright enough to pick up on the substance of the material without it being cut into bite sized pieces and served up in a group setting, took a slightly lower grade than you but walked away more intelligent. (?)

I know kids like that. They got scholarships too. Even with morons holding them back. In short, don't be so afraid of disappointing expectations and altering your own behaviour if something isn't working. You might not get the gold star, but you'll be kept around to prove valuable in other ways.

Mary said...

(I know it's a shock, really, that not all parents can afford the education that a child wants. Must have been lovely growing up in your sheltered neighborhood. Pardon me if I can't relate.)

So you really think that it's all externally imposed then? That there's no distinction between lower class individuals -- all are victims of a bad educational system?

What if I was in the same boat? Except my parents had a different attitude -- that nothing was owed me? They participated in school board to affect policies they believed could improve, and communicated with teachers and administrators on how to best educate their child with what was available there. You'd be amazed how many of these public servants are NOT in it for the money, realize they are working in an imperfect system, but DO care about a child's education. Particularly if the child/family is working to help themselves.

You'd also be amazed, as another commenter noted, that there are some for whom the idea of a basic education rests with the individual (boy or girl/family) and not an external source.

Jay said...

Commenters are, in general, doing well at identifying the risks of a one-size-fits-all approach, even of a one-size-fits-all-of-one-gender approach. The hypothetical boys' school sounds like pretty much of a nightmare to me, but that's mainly because my birthday was just before the cutoff and I started school in a district with an unusually late cutoff date to begin with; so by virtue of being the youngest, I was the shortest, (physically) slowest, least coordinated boy in nearly every classroom I sat in until about my sophomore year of high school. On the other hand, a curriculum heavy on technical subjects and taught by males would have been highly advantageous for the likes of me.

At a high level, the challenge is neither to suppress boys' natural aggressiveness nor encourage it, but channel it in constructive ways. I note that this challenge is all the more acute among subcultures (rural Southern US; African-American) which encourage male aggressiveness and even promote antischolastic attitudes.

On a cheerier topic, I've decided to take Mark Spittle's suggestion to heart and become a Beltway Bandit. How could I have missed that "the conversion of tax dollars to military contractor profits" is what blogging is all about? Persons wishing to join me in "[t]oss[ing] out the entire core of human existance [sic] and social values and even the values we are hardwired with at birth" are encouraged to send an e-mail. We'll be up there with Halliburton in no time!

Kory O said...

Mary, look, things aren't always so cut and dried as you are trying to make them out to be.

I know there were plenty of slackers who got scholarships. They had contacts that I didn't have, such as alumni ties to a school, or access to a scholarship I wouldn't qualify for simply because their parents worked in a different field than mine did. That didn't make them any more intelligent than me, just luckier. I had the one chance to get an advantage for myself, which was to get better grades, and I took it.

I don't begrudge them those advantages, because I hope that now maybe my son will have some of them when he is older, too (especially the alumni thing....it always helps when applying to a college, don't forget that).

However, I don't think it's too much to ask to have the government actually educate kids with the money they are taking out of my salary and your salary. All I know is that learning things like 2+2=4 and how to find Africa on a map are far more beneficial to a child than learning things about "self-esteem" in the absence of actual accomplishment (classic example....those dorks on "American Idol" who can't sing and get mad when Simon tells them that in a bitchy manner. They then proceed to tell the audience that they are going to be chart toppers in the next five years because they are fabulous, in spite of any actual talent that anyone else can discern. Unless they are going to make a comedy album, I doubt it.)

I also don't see why this should be such a huge problem for the government to have decent schools in poor areas. There were good schools in the past in poor areas. How do you think so many of those children of immigrants made it out and up to middle class status? Kicking back and saying "schools have sucked for a long time, everybody knows it, can't do anything about it" isn't an acceptable answer, and that attitude shouldn't be tolerated.

There are plenty of civil servants who want to do a good job for the kids. I know.....you're reading a comment from someone who did that job and is hoping to do it again when my child is older. I benefited from people like that when I was in school, myself. You're preaching to the choir on that one.

Yes, people will have kids when they are too poor to move into a good district. Others don't really think much about what they are doing when they have kids. Still others work their butts off and can't afford anything else. They may be just too damn tired to go to a school board meeting after working all day. I don't see why that should mean their kids have to accept schooling that wouldn't cut it in Bangladesh, much less the industrialized world.

If nothing else, ponder this....for a long time, America has been the leading country for science and tech. We have attracted the best and the brightest to come study here and work here (my sweetie, from Russia and a computer genius, qualifies in my humble opinion. ;) )

We are losing that lead. More and more cutting edge research is being done overseas. Why? We're not investing in our schools the way we should, especially in math and science. Our schools are acting like daycare facilities, not education centers.

I don't think anyone here is seriously applauding the idea of beating the crap out of the little anklebiters to teach them discipline. What I think most of them want is for their child's education to be something that will serve them well long after they leave primary school.

The current method isn't cutting it. The past method worked for most kids. Maybe it's time to bring some of that old-fashioned stuff back, and maybe it's time to stop penalizing the little kids (boys and girls) who can't or won't sit still and color in the lines. Most of the disruptive ones will eventually learn to settle down and behave better.

I just wonder how many future geniuses (no, I'm not among them, wish I were) we're squelching down with this emphasis on equal, mediocre outcomes for everyone, an attitude of "just do enough to get by and let someone else do the work for you", and "nah, you're poor, you don't get the science textbook that was published after the moon landing".

I sure hope I have saved enough for my retirement. If I haven't, kids educated like that sure aren't going to be the tech leaders of tomorrow, and my Social Security check will be an even sadder joke than it otherwise would have been. ;)

Kory O said...

jay, I'll come along if they have decent dental and a good retirement plan! ;)

Mary said...

"I know there were plenty of slackers who got scholarships."

This assumes that everyone who gave less than 100% on a every group project was a "slacker". Doesn't compute.

Isn't that the kind of mentality that the letter writer in the original post is cautioning against? (If they were bright enough to score high on tests and earn a scholarship, maybe they weren't slacking across the board.)

Kory O said...

This assumes that everyone who gave less than 100% on a every group project was a "slacker". Doesn't compute.

Isn't that the kind of mentality that the letter writer in the original post is cautioning against? (If they were bright enough to score high on tests and earn a scholarship, maybe they weren't slacking across the board.)


Try again. You assume that all scholarships are strictly for kids who got top scores and high grades. Not exactly. There are ones out there any kind of goofy thing you can think of. I believe David Letterman endowed his alma mater, Ball State, with a scholarship that only C students are eligible for, as an example. Some unions used to give out scholarships to their members' kids, and not all the kids who got them were straight A students.

Then there are the athletic scholarships. A lot of them don't require high grades or scores, just the ability to hit home runs or mow down a defensive line. Plenty of the jocks knew that they could get those scholarships even if they could barely read.

Sure, some kids slacked off in one class and didn't in another. Where did I ever say that wasn't possible? Hell, I did that myself in geography and history class. I virtually fell asleep during the day and still aced the tests, including AP tests. Your point here is, what, exactly?

Mary said...

"If I would have slacked off like those clowns (on group projects), my GPA would have taken a hit, and I might not have gotten that money for school."

Really think that your GPA would have "taken a hit" ? ("Imagine getting extra credit for resisting authority, and having points deducted for being compliant with arbitrary rules and meaningless deadlines.") You may have "felt" you were participating "more" by working harder than your peers, but perhaps the person in your group who "sat back" and learned from the group experience and was bright enough to pick up on the substance of the material without it being cut into bite sized pieces and served up in a group setting, took a slightly lower grade than you but walked away more intelligent. (?)

I know kids like that. They got scholarships too. (If they were bright enough to score high on tests and earn a scholarship, maybe they weren't slacking across the board.)

I assembled it for you. I accept there are different types of scholarships. Assume that students with non-perfect gpa's also "earn" scholarships based on test scores and outside academic achievement. hth

Slocum said...

Children need to lean to be responsible on a daily basis

There's a big difference between learning to be responsible and jumping through every hoop every day. Children are held to a standard that few working adults are. How many of us have jobs with multiple daily deadlines and penalties for failing to meet them? Hell, *teachers* don't have such jobs. If they take a few extra days to finish grading papers or tests, well, they're busy people you know--that's the way it goes. They're perfectly willing to cut themselves all kinds of slack that they're unwilling to give their students.

.....children need to lean to work well with others and succeed as a group.

Nope -- group projects are a inevitable invitation to free riders. In the world of work, do-nothings can be fired (or not hired in the first place). In school, if you're stuck with lousy group members, you get a lousy grade and/or get to do most of the work.

STEVE1104 said...

The above "utopia" is known as single-sex private education. I am currently an American History teacher in a public school, and have seen the unintended consequences of low student expectations, abover average teaching, and lax standards for behavior.

Oligonicella said...

Kory O
"If I would have slacked off like those clowns (on group projects), my GPA would have taken a hit, and I might not have gotten that money for school."

Mary
Really think that your GPA would have "taken a hit"?

He's in a better position to know than you. I've seen high GPA kids take hits on their grades because groups didn't perform well. Besides, he's stating that his GPA would have suffered had he slacked off. That's a pretty reasonable assumption.

Also, all scholarships do not require high GPA's.

Mary said...

Folks,
Most early level "group projects" are along the lines of making a pretty poster and presentation to the class. It's not so intelligent to spend a lot of time on this, when there are usually more efficient ways to learn the material.

If you stop fretting over the grade, or what this might do to your gpa/scholarship/future life chances, and concentrate on the material not the group project, you come out ok. Enough students do this, you might see less group projects.

Of course, you might not get to be valedictorian #41...

Roger Sweeny said...

Mark Spittle,

You left out, "Conservatives stereotype and demonize those who don't agree with them, turning them into an 'other.' They can't just disagree but must attribute stupidity or evil to people who don't think like they do."

Bet you didn't realize you were a conservative.

Vicky said...

I think group projects are assigned because they are faster to grade. That was absolutely the case in college.

Vicky said...

"If you stop fretting over the grade, or what this might do to your gpa/scholarship/future life chances, and concentrate on the material not the group project, you come out ok. Enough students do this, you might see less group projects.

Of course, you might not get to be valedictorian #41..."

I really do respect this argument as an adult. In high school, though, the counselors and teachers I trusted told me that GPA was the path to college, and being the trusting kid that I was, I believed them. So of course I fretted over grades. This has got to be a common scenario.

Ann Althouse said...

I think group projects in grade school and high school are intended to have a socializing effect, to help kids make friends, and to use the advanced kids as tutors. It doesn't work that way, in my opinion, but I think the teachers mean well and have a theory.

One of my sons was in a class where the teacher pitted all the boys against all the girls for all sorts of things, then repeatedly disciplined the boys as a group because they acted up in one way or another. At one point, the teacher, with various other teachers supporting him, called in all us parents of boys and told us how awful our sons were, how the boys had a big problem (compared to the girls). I'll let you just visualize how I -- and others -- reacted.

David said...

The projected school sounds a lot like the traditional English public school--and more than a few men really hated these. (Orwell, for example) Several years ago, I met a gentleman who had attended a public school and later become a real hero in WWII. His feelings about his school were extremely negative and extremely strong.

There are a lot of good things in the proposed model, but it does seem skewed toward a stereotype of extreme masculinity. Similarly, today's public schools seem largely skewed toward a stereotype of extreme femininity.

I'm afraid many educators have basically totalitarian mindsets, and the one thing they cannot tolerate is allowing people to be themselves.

As Bjorn said...

You don't bother to note the quote is from Yeat's gravestone and signals the essential meaninglessness of death itself.

I went to a catholic boys highs school run by the Jesuits. There was corporal punishment, athletes were praised, and it was the sixties so we all went against authority. My class was pretty much full of criminals and in later years men who are good republicans and support the order of this current regime down the line. So this is anecdotal and proves nothing, pretty much like your post.

I do wish people argued a lot more in school, but I think the culture really only requires them to be brought up to be good consumers. Nothing else is actually important to the rulers, the aristocracy. Your people. Party on rigbhtwing fools. Your reasoning brought us George W. Bush, and truly the end of constitutional government in America. How's that for special ed?

Kirk Parker said...

" I'll let you just visualize how I -- and others -- reacted."

Oh, please, please--we want to see the home movie of this!!!!!

The Contra Crunchy said...

Ah yes, the glory of all-male boarding schools. It's just like the Royal Navy, minus the rum.

CatoRenasci said...

David makes a couple of interesting points:

1) that the English public school/American military school "boys model" is not necessarily enjoyable to go through, or at least that many boys hate it while they're there and there is a divide whether they speak fondly of it later on in life or continue to hate it.

2) that the "boys model" does work for some (whether they liked it or not) and not for others.


I think the first observation is the most important. Today we focus on whether school is enjoyable or engaging, not whether it's effective in inculcating the skills and values we believe it is essential for children (boys especially) to learn.

I'm not sure we should worry so much about that, or about whether the children think school is "relevant" (for which I read "obviously and immediately relevant to an unusually stupid child of ten- apologies to Bertrand Russell).

Rather, I think we should focus on the academic skills, knowledge and character we (as mature adults who have been successful in the world and who have thought about why) believe children need to know for both material success and spiritual/intellectual/artistic maturity - that not so easily definable hallmark of an educated person.

If it requires discipline and isn't "fun" but the children learn and are not broken in spirit - because their high spirits are given outlet on the playing fields and in other areas, then we've done something better, IMHO, than make education enjoyable.

The simple fact is that education requires significant mental work, and the sooner children realize that, and participate in that work as they are able - which may be the origin of so much rote learning a century or two ago - the more likely they are to get a grip on learning early enough on that they will ultimately retain the bulk of it.

Jonathan Foreigner said...

Ms. Althouse,

you are a lawyer, correct? It seems to me somewhat ironic that you comment on/complain about the over-feminisation of schools since it is my impression that it has been a result, to no small degree, of the actions of tort lawyers and their efforts to encourage people to sue at the drop of a hat. Given the astronomical cost of mounting a robust legal defense and the real possibility of massive liability, even in the face of spurious claims, the predictable result is that in seeking to tame this particular risk monster, schools (and many other organisations in our society) govern themselves with denser and denser thickets of ever more intrusive policies and rules of ever finer granularity, and elevate the low risk, quietly-seated child who will incur less liability today, over the active, curious, dynamic child who, after having left the school's sphere of liability, may become a captain of industry or a Nobel Prize winner tomorrow. Such thinking might work in the short term and within the narrow remit of the education system, but few observers whose judgement is not clouded by misandry or money can doubt that, to the extent it denies us even a single Edison, Ford, Einstein, Marconi, Whittle or such like, it is hugely detrimental to the nation as a whole in the longer term.

David said...

Re the whole tort thing: it's kind of ironic that schools won't expel disruptive or even violent kids because of fear of lawsuits...yet the same kids are quick to expel kids who give an aspirin to a friend.

I don't think that there's any question that the fear of lawsuits has contributed to many of the phenomena Jonathan describes..but the effect would have been much less had the schools not already been strongly prejudiced in the directions in which they were being pressured. Extreme proceduralization and bureaucratization in the schools has been acelerated by the threat of litigation, but it was not created b that threat.

And Jonathan..you *do* realize that some lawyers are in the business of *defending* against tort actions, rather than bringing them?

CatoRenasci said...

David - the second time I agree with you in these comments - I think you're spot on on the litigation fear as part of the problem driving stupid policies.

I think where we went wrong was conflating the notion that "every child has the right to avail himself (or herself) of an education" with the notion that "every child has a right to receive an education."

The first notion views education as essentially a privilege, but says we will not withhold that privilege from anyone who is willing to come to school, behave reasonably, and try to learn.

The second notion all to easily becomes a notion that we have to educate the child regardless of the child's behavior.

Private schools are more successful than public schools, IMHO, in large part because they are not obliged to keep students who are disruptive or unwilling to do their work.

I think society would be vastly better off, and more children from straightened circumstances would be successful, if we adhered to the "available privilege" model of education rather than the "right come 'hell or high water'" model of education.

David said...

cato...see my post Penny in the Fusebox for more on the dangers of allowing unlimited disruptive behavior in the schools.

CatoRenasci said...

David: this is off-thread here, but I read both the post you referred me to (agree in large measure) and the top-line post on 'selling' internships.

The practice is not so new as you might think: when I was a junior lawyer in New York in 1981, an old senior partner told how when he was just out of Penn law school, he had a job a the then most prestigous firm in Philadelphia. He'd come from a poor family in the Far West and been a scholarship student and football standout at Princeton and had had a full scholarship at Penn. Married with a small child. He loved his work, and the partners seemed to love him. But, after a couple of months, he'd still not received a paycheck. As his situation became rather straightened, after six months he finally went to his mentor and told him that he was not a wealthy man and hoped the firm would understand. The older partner replied: Oh, indeed, we're aware of your situation. Ordinarily, our clerks pay us for the first two years. In your case, because we think you're such a promising young man, whom we hope to see in the firm someday, the partners voted unanimously to waive any payment from you. The next day, he said, he took a train to New York and was promptly hired (with salary) at the New York firm where he spent the next 50 years (other than his WWII service)!

Go figure!

We just went through our older daughter giving us a very hard time because we didn't set up an intership for her, as did the parents of many of her friends. We told her to find one on her own. She ended up with a highly competitive, sought-after internship in a hot field with a very highly regarded private company, that's paying her well! Having to go through that process, and now being in the job, have done more for her self-respect (self-esteem is bosh) than almost anything she's done.

Kory O said...

oligonicella, thanks for the defense of my position. I couldn't have said it better myself. But one little detail...I'm a girl. My kid's the boy. :)

aaron said...

Deductions for following meaningless rules and deadlines. I would have spent a lot less of my time fantasizing about killing in elementary and juniour high, and taking over businesses just so I could fire my idiot profs.

David said...

cato...interesting that it was going on so long ago..I wonder how common the practice was and whether it died out and is only now being revived, or whether it has been happening all along in certain corners of certain industries.

My new post The Panicky Classes is also relevant to this subject.

Baron Waste said...

I do find it interesting, that the troll with the unlikely name of 'Spittle' launched his one vituperative torpedo at all us Trotskyite deviationists - then completely disappeared. I wonder how many he thought he would miraculously convert with that blunderbuss blast against freedom - and on what other discussions he has loosed it. [It is clearly adaptable to fit nearly any topic; only two sentences in it even relate to this one!]

Ann Althouse said...

Barron: I think Spittle's the type of troll who does one comment, then retreats to his own blog and brags about it. It's a technique that works to some extent to build traffic. I think a blogger who comments elsewhere can bring a following back to his own blog and even get people like me to link him and build his traffic. The troll version of that, however, shouldn't succeed.

Zython said...

So, you all want a school where disputes are solved with fists, bullying is a sport, and no one has to cooperate with anyone? We have a word for people like that. Sociopaths. What this "ideal" school would teach is that it's perfectly acceptable to use violence to get your way, or even just for kicks. Well, last time I checked, we (or at least I) are human beings that live in a society of laws and rules. When you all grow up, you'll learn that you have to use words to settle your differences, and like it or not, you have to work with other people, so cooperation skill are a must. But alas, it seems raising children to be sociopaths is an inalienable right, up there with the right to make the lives of those different from you as difficult as possible. Bullying is not glamerous, it's vile and primative. Now, I'll leave you all to reminisce about beating up the chess club in middle school.

37383938393839383938383 said...

Of course. How predictable. You have those people who say group work is great because it teaches wonderful life skills (like how to get a lower grade because of lazy parasites). And you have those who say slanting school policy in favor of boys would result in rudeness and violence, as opposed to boys actually liking school and reporting to school without medication. You get plenty of rationalizations, but not many concessions, like that many, many high-acheiving girls (or boys, for that matter) did so by making sure to get all their attendance points, turning in all their assignments on time, and answering the easiest questions at the beginning of class. Nevermind that they had no real understanding of the material. But when 15%-35% of your grade is earned by simply being there, meeting deadlines, and not ticking off the teacher, it's not so hard to take a B-minus mind and get straight A's.

Someone here said something about beating up the chess club, which is just silly. Boys like chess because it requires strategic, rational thought, you get to brag when you win, and, frankly, it's about war. Many schools don't even have chess teams or clubs. But you can bet they have a glee club. That is part of the problem. This has nothing to do with your outdated stereotypes of men being lusty brutes. I'm guessing you learned those stereotypes in public education, where the environment dehumanized and demeaned you into your present misandrist self-loathing.

Zython said...

Of course. How predictable. You have those people who say group work is great because it teaches wonderful life skills (like how to get a lower grade because of lazy parasites).

1. Everyone has to deal with those "parasite" eventually. Whining about it doesn't do anything. You'll find out when you get older.

2. Judging by your demeanour, I'd say you were the "parasite" when you do your middle school group assignments.

This has nothing to do with your outdated stereotypes of men being lusty brutes.

You can't be serious. This circle jerk is centered around nothing BUT outdated stereotypes. "Boys crave competition while girls like having their ego stroked" my ass.

I'm guessing you learned those stereotypes in public education, where the environment dehumanized and demeaned you into your present misandrist self-loathing.

Hey, while we're assuming past experiences, I'll assume the reasons you act the way you do is because your father fornicated you with a hot iron poker when you were 7. Weee! Fun for the whole family!

aaron said...

Um, Zython. You should really re-evlation your absolutist thinking. The reason for the post isn't to advocate eliminating one system and replacing it with another. It's more about questioning why we only have one, poorly fitting system.