A woman on one of my email lists suggested this book, and I am loving it! I’ve already found a lot of things that I want to discuss and ponder.
I am especially interested in his assertion that families in our country, and especially fathers, are doing a disservice to young men and boys by giving them the idea that reading is a “girly” thing to do.
…one place where there is never a shortage of males is in our remedial reading classes, where boys make up more than 70 percent of the enrollment. In American remedial classes, that is. Boys don’t constitute 70 percent of remedial students in many other countries. In Insraeli remedial classes, there are no gender differences. In Finland, England, Nigeria, India, and Germany, the girls outnumber the boys. It can’t be genetics.
I would’ve guessed that India would’ve had that statistic, and I honestly wasn’t too surprised about American boys being behind girls in reading. I’m trying to figure out why I just accept that though. I obviously don’t think it is genetic. Trelease has his own ideas about why this is.Â We’ll get to that later though.Â Back to the statistics:
According to… research, boys are more likely than girls to repeat a grade or drop out of school, suffer from more learning disabilities, are three times more likely to be enrolled in special-education classes, are more likely to be involved in criminal and delinquent behavior, are less likely to be enrolled in college-prep classes, have lower educational expectations, lower reading and writing scores, read less for pleasure, and do less homework. Even those males who eventually reach college are less likely to graduate than females, largely due to their macho-male behavior while they are there; as Riordan notes, “while in college they spend more time than women exercising, partying, watching TV, or playing video games.”
When it comes to schooling, its been long known that girls were better in the early years, but boys passed them in the later years. This is no longer true.
Thanks to concerted social and academic efforts, girls’ high school and college scores have risen for the past two decades. But during the same period, the boys’ scores have taken a nosedive.
An immediate measure of the downshift among young males in the last decade can be seen in the number of students taking the Advanced Placement exams. AP courses allow achieving high school students to gain college credit while still in high school… The girls’ rate of AP courses has shown a steady climb, while the boys rate has taken two dips and allowed a wide margin to grow between the sexes.
In 1970, males outnumbered females in college enrollment by a ratio of 59 to 41. By 2000, that ratio had been reversed to 57 to 42 in favor of women. Granted, the women’s movement raised the bar for female achievement in the classroom, but what’s been going on with the guys?
I was thinking about the women’s movement as I was reading this section. I’d love to see an egalitarian movement take hold for men where they could be encouraged to be smart and excel without a bunch of machismo and chest beating. That’d be nice.
So now Trelease talks about his theory on what is happening, and it has a lot to do with a larger emphasis on sports (24-hour channels, etc) for men and a deeper encouragement (or at least modeling) that focuses on engaging athletics rather than academics. Regardless of education level, the average was the same for families: fathers read only 15% of the time, mothers 76%, and others 9%.
The right call for fathers is to be involved intellectually as well as athletically with a child. If a child must wait until junior high or middle school before encountering a male in the act of reading, the idea that reading is for girls will already have taken deep root in his mind. We have to short-circuit that dangerous thinking and convince American males that it is not only possible but preferable for fathers to be athletically and intellectually involved in their children’s lives. A father can play catch in the backyard after dinner and, on the same night, read to the child for fifteen minutes. He can take him to the basketball game on Friday night and the library on Saturday morning.
My dh is wonderful at this. He reads with the kids all the time, and they also see him reading. I feel so very thankful. There are some days when he reads to my kids and I don’t ::ducking my head::. And its not that I’m not a reader (obviously!), but that is something that dh makes sure ALWAYS happens at bedtime. I’m saddened to hear how rare this is 🙁