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May 12, 2010

Who's to Blame When Boys Don't Go to College?

Glenn Reynolds comments on "Our Sexist Education System"

Obviously, we need to extend Title IX beyond athletics. . . .

You think I’m kidding but I’m not sure I am. Since we’ve given up on merit and instead focus on group representation nowadays, what’s the argument against such an approach?

The argument against such an approach is that the remedy is worse than the disease: such tactics don't teach children to compete effectively in an unfair and changing world and they create perverse incentives that can backfire in ways that are hard to foresee. I also think both the Left and Right have consistency issues when it comes to affirmative action.

The Left's argument that unequal outcomes (i.e., higher grades, admission rates, or graduation rates for boys) constitute de facto evidence of gender discrimination is problematic in light of the actual data on degrees earned by men and women over time:

As with my earlier post on no fault divorce, it's clear that the proportion of degrees earned by women was already increasing rapidly long before affirmative action became a widespread practice. Clearly, sexism wasn't quite the barrier to entry it was cracked up to be by the Left.

But it seems equally clear that the Right can't attribute disappointing male educational outcomes solely to affirmative action. Wasn't it we who claimed that affirmative action was not only unfair, but ineffective? Didn't we argue that lowering admission standards would result in the admission of unqualified students who wouldn't be able to compete (much less graduate)?

Increasing female graduation rates are problematic for conservatives who attribute the gains made by women to the death of merit: preferential treatment might have gotten many women into school but it can't remedy inadequate preparation or aptitude, make them study, nor guarantee they'll persevere until they graduate. Declining academic standards may make college easier, but they do so for boys as well as girls.

While it may be emotionally satisfying for the Right to blame feminists and the Left to blame sexism for everything under the sun, the actual data suggests a more complex explanation for disparate academic achievement. And there are other problems with the position of the Right:

.... the arguments [many conservatives] put forth - men are fragile hothouse flowers; they are discouraged by misandry, the feminization of culture, female centric schools, a perceived "hostile climate" that makes it impossible for men to succeed - are precisely the same arguments conservatives rightly rejected when feminists advanced them Lo! these many years ago. Women were told, in effect, "So what if it's a man's world? If you want to get ahead, suck it up and compete like a man."

Which prompts the question: whatever happened to all this talk about sucking it up and competing like a man now that the shoe appears to be on the other foot? Certainly, the numbers are daunting. But they are no worse for men now than they were for women decades ago. It's just that now that the situations are reversed, what was once sauce for the goose is most definitely NOT sauce for the gander. Some conservatives are even trying to tell us that it doesn't matter whether boys finish school. Unfortunately, it's not just a matter of boys not finishing school (though that's bad enough).

Many conservatives have also assured us recently that we should not be alarmed that men are opting out of a college education. But given that educational achievement is the variable that best predicts whether a man will vote, I'm not so sure their confidence is justified:

As I commented in my earlier post on this subject:

That's not a gender gap. It's a gender schism. Some conservatives and men's rights activists will tell you that the widespread defection of men from the meritocracy is "understandable" because life in an age where men must compete with women is "unfair".

It's too "hard". These are generally the same folks who will tell you that men are stronger than women. And smarter. And harder working. Having raised two sons and lived with a Marine for over three decades, I can tell you that men are not motivated by having excuses made for them, nor by the emasculating bigotry of low expectations.

They are motivated by challenge. And risk. And by older men who will not brook shiftless behavior.

And by women who won't tolerate it either: mothers, wives, girlfriends, sisters. We don't need to berate or belittle our sons, but we do need to encourage them to act like men. What we don't need is conservatives who extol traditional masculine virtues but undermine any attempt to encourage responsibility and accountability.

Quite possibly the worst thing about feminism has been the notion that whatever young women do is right and good - that they need act no better than the basest of their instincts directs them to. Why are we repeating a formula we know doesn't work with our sons? Why are we creating victims instead of survivors? As emotionally satisfying as it is to cry "No Fair!", that's not the answer to what ails young men these days. We all - male or female - have a stake in the survival of our way of life. We don't get to take our balls and go home because losing hurts our feelings. The answer - just as it is in marriage - is not a refusal to participate. We need to help young men stay engaged, encourage them to go after what they want, challenge them to become better than they are today.

This really worries me. Society needs men to participate fully in the political process. Children need fathers and stable families:

The percentage of babies born to unmarried women in the United States is starting to look more like that in many European countries, the data shows. For example, the proportion of babies born to unmarried women is about 66 percent in Iceland, 55 percent in Sweden, 50 percent in France and 44 percent in the United Kingdom.

In many of those countries, couples are living together instead of getting married, which is also the case in the United States. Previous research indicates that about 40 percent of births to unmarried women occur in households where couples are cohabitating.

We need to look beyond summary statistics to what's really going on here.

Even in 1970, the number of women in college compared to the number of women in the labor force was proportionally higher than the number men in college compared to the number of men in the labor force (6.71% to 5.58%), a male/female ratio of 0.83. By 2008, that proportion had fallen to 0.63, however, this doesn’t say anything of itself as women have become more career oriented in the last 40 years and thus the widening gap makes sense. (5)

numbers2.bmp

What this does show, is that the primary variable in the college gap appears to be labor force participation.

I've never been a big believer that everyone needs to go to college, but it's not just college graduation rates that are the problem. Young men are opting out of college, delaying or forgoing marriage entirely, and voting less (or not at all). The ground is shifting beneath our feet and I suspect that blaming feminism or a sexist patriarchy just won't answer the mail.

I also suspect that the problem is more one of moral hazard driven by a general decline in societal standards and expectations than a case of life suddenly growing "too hard" for men and boys to compete. Sometimes we need something to live up to. In the absence of such a standard, many of us are perfectly willing to drift. Sometimes all the wrangling between the Right and Left over gender reminds me of bitter, divorced parents fighting over how to raise their children: winning the argument has become more important than doing what is right for the kids. The Left treats women and girls as victims. Increasingly, the Right is doing the same with men and boys.

I don't see encouraging either men or women to nurse grievances or think of themselves as victims to be a helpful tactic. The world has never been a fair place - never in the history of mankind. But we have to live in it anyway. I can't help thinking we'd all get farther if we taught our children to overcome obstacles instead of feeling sorry for themselves.

Update: Interesting perspective on college application and admission rates:

We know that girls constitute 57 percent of the students in higher education, and that females earn 60 percent of bachelor’s degrees. Many more girls apply to college than boys, yet colleges like to maintain gender balance, meaning that a larger percentage of male applicants are taken than female.

For example, according to data that is online in the Common Data Set, the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va., receives almost twice as many applications from girls each year as it does from boys. While the statistics for the 2009 entering class are not yet available, stats for the freshman classes for the three previous years before show that the percentage of male applicants admitted to the college is much higher than for girls.

I couldn't help noticing that admission for Harvard and UVA were nearly equal. I wonder whether the so-called education gap doesn't apply more at the middle and bottom tier schools (IOW, boys are still applying to - and getting into - the most competitive schools). That could support my notion that the "problem" is more one of lowered expectations? I seem to recall writing about boys' lagging achievement in grade school being more related to shifting demographics in the student population? As I recall, stats for white boys from upper middle class, two parent families were as good as they've ever been. This would support Dave's comment about the importance of families. Or... not! Anyway, interesting stuff.

Posted by Cassandra at May 12, 2010 08:51 AM

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Comments

Dude! Women are awesome!

Posted by: I Call BS at May 12, 2010 10:52 AM

Women have been allowed to get educated, and the ironic result has been a shortage in good teachers and nurses. As a teacher, I observe the smart women in my class passing on teaching programs. Instead, the idiots fill the teacher's colleges and expect me to show them the ropes.

Smart women who used to think their only options were teaching and nursing are now becoming lawyers and doctors. At least until they have the child of another lawyer or doctor and go on a 5 year sabatical.

I call for a return to the days of my youth when women could go to college, but only for 3 reasons: teaching, nursing and finding a husband.

Posted by: Mrs. Tingle at May 12, 2010 11:44 AM

I call for a return to the days of my youth when women could go to college, but only for 3 reasons: teaching, nursing and finding a husband.

I suspect you have abundant company there, smart aleck :p

Posted by: Cassandra at May 12, 2010 12:33 PM

Mrs. Tingle points out another reason to homeschool.

My elementary school teachers were brilliant ladies. Each of them loved us boys, but generally looked on us with frequent noncomprehending amusement.

When my sons attended school, a fair number (but by no means all) of the teachers had a hard anti-boy edge. My kids coped as they were generally large, pretty, polite, and sharp. Lots of other boys did not. I was appalled at the number of boys thrown out of middle and high schools; although in fairness to the schools, their behavior so required.

The curriculum was rigged to give girls a hand up. In particular math was changed to require extraordinary English skills, with a consequent downgrading of emphasis on actual math. You can also see this in the SATs where now two-thirds of the exam is verbal and only one-third mathematical.

One reason that I always read VC is that it sometimes points me towards possible solutions to the dreadful broken state of relations between the sexes.

Posted by: levi from queens at May 12, 2010 12:54 PM

One reason that I always read VC is that it sometimes points me towards possible solutions to the dreadful broken state of relations between the sexes.

Levi:

I think that may be the nicest thing anyone has said to me. I don't think we can afford to give up.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 12, 2010 01:06 PM

Your link to Swift Economics seems to explain the graphs you post here very well.

The numbers represent a massive increase in both the number and percentage of men and women that attend college now, as compared to 1970, coupled with a dramatic increase of women in the workforce overall in the last 40 years.

Men's options and life choices haven't really changed that much while the options for women have expanded.

Why does that require someone or something to blame?

Posted by: Craig at May 12, 2010 01:34 PM

Why does that require someone or something to blame?

That was my point, Craig. This isn't an adversarial scenario or a zero sum game.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 12, 2010 01:37 PM

Well, from what I've seen and read, a big part of the problem is that boys get discouraged early in elementary school. Public school doesn't give a boy much breathing room to be a boy anymore; many schools have eliminated recess and physical education. And there is very little hands-on instruction; the teaching style is almost entirely verbal, and the students are expected to be passive receptacles. And then there's the inherent misandry in most education theory today. Say what you want about girls being discouraged from getting an education in the past -- at least they weren't informed on a daily basis that they were dangerous predators that the world would be better off without. Further, when those boys go home after school, it's a lot of the same. Oh, they probably don't get the outright misandry from their parents (one hopes), but they do get the 0%-unstructured-time style of parenting that is so popular these days, and is (arguably) more harmful to boys than girls. And, when they turn on the TV, they see males that are mostly either evil or incompetent.

Now, as to the college thing. First: "affirmative action", in the form of granting boys preferred admission status, is not -- NOT! -- the right answer. If there's anything that AA has taught us, it's that admitting unprepared students is just a path to failure. I argue that women in college benefited not from AA so much as from the simple opportunity to attend; if AA was primarily responsible, the graduation rates would lag behind the admission rates, an as our Webmistress has shown us, that's not the case. The truth is, if the parenting and the primary education system aren't doing their jobs, for any group of people, there is very little that universities can do to "fix" those students after the fact.

Actually, I think it's all a symptom of a deeper problem, which is that boys and young men don't see a role for themselves in society. Consider this: why are some young men so attracted to radical Islam? Because it offers them a role, a place in the social heirarchy. It says to them, "you da man, you da boss." Whereas Western society says to them, "Go do your own thing. Yeah, whatever. Just don't bother us." Now, I am NOT NOT NOT making excuses for radical Islam, and I am NOT saying that society needs to emulate it! Absolutely not. If radical Islam isn't 100% harmful, it's close enough such that there is no practical difference. However, in any economic or survival contest, you have to be aware of what the other team is doing. And you have to admit that, to young men who are lost (and maybe harbor some resentment towards women), radical Islam makes a pretty good sales pitch.

What Western society absolutely must do is construct a new role for men. It may have a lot in common with the old role, or it may not (my money is on the former, but we'll see). But it must be a role that emphasizes the strengths and virtues of men, while minimizing the bad qualities. I'm not at all sure how we go about this. But I know this much: women will have to participate -- and that's going to be the touchiest part of the whole deal.

Posted by: Cousin Dave at May 12, 2010 01:43 PM

I have a quibble just a bit on the "at least women weren't told they are predators" thing. Women weren't told that, but we were told we belonged at home. We were told that many jobs were either unsuitable or out of the question.

I was flat out told by bosses that if I'd been a man they would have promoted me in a heartbeat but that men would not accept a female being promoted over their heads. I was asked - repeatedly - "who would be minding my baby while I was at work"? No one ever asked my husband that question.

*sigh*

The truth is, if the parenting and the primary education system aren't doing their jobs, for any group of people, there is very little that universities can do to "fix" those students after the fact.

When my boys encountered obstacles, I encouraged them to keep trying until they succeeded. But nowadays I hear parents berating teachers for not giving their kids the grades "they deserve".

*rolling eyes*

Posted by: Cassandra at May 12, 2010 01:56 PM

re: schools.

There was very little 'hands on' instruction in any of the elementary schools I attended, and I changed schools every year or so so I attended a LOT of different schools in different states.

In talking with my parents, they were also expected to sit still and behave. If anything, the expectation was FAR stricter than it is nowadays. So I'm not sure I buy the "discouraged" bit. I think a lot of that is parents pushing their wishful thinking onto their kids.

Boys are behind girls during the first few years in many important ways (fine motor skills and attention span come to mind). I spent considerable time with my two after school practicing penmanship and reading with them (and both could read long before they got to kindergarten).

Sometimes the problem is actually that school is too easy. It was for my two sons. They did best when I pulled them out of public school and put them in private or home school - despite a curriculum and workload that was *much* more demanding and behavior expectations that were far more rigorous, their grades and test scores soared.

I don't think it's too hard. I think it's too easy and since boys are far less compliant, they don't see the point. Full disclosure: that was precisely my reaction to schools that were too easy - I just stopped trying and read on my own.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 12, 2010 02:07 PM

I'm not sure that educational achievement is a good predictor for voting. The data suggests the opposite in fact. First, in the seventies men had a higher percentage of college degrees, and still there was a gender gap in voting. Second, the numbers of women voting show the same trends as men voting, despite the changing disparity in educational achievement.

So, that suggests something else is at play. It might very well be slow societal changes and changes in the roles women have taken on. With these changing roles, women have taken a much more intense look at politics.

Of course, that's just a quick look at the data, and I could be all washed up. I recognize my inherent right to get it wrong. :)

Posted by: Allen at May 12, 2010 02:19 PM

You may not be wrong at all, Allen!

I remember reading that (that education was the best predictor of who votes) when I was researching my prior post on boys/men opting out. I just didn't have time to look it up this morning. I think it was some governmental study/stats but it's been a while.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 12, 2010 02:21 PM

First, in the seventies men had a higher percentage of college degrees, and still there was a gender gap in voting.

Another thought: given that there are probably many factors that influence voting behavior, I think it's important to distinguish "best predictor" from "only predictor". To me the most interesting line on the voting chart was the gap line (3.5 circa 1970 to nearly 10 million more in 2008). It seems like the same thing might be going on here: a massive influx of women rather than a huge decline in male voting?

20 million more men vote now than in 1964, but over 30 million more women vote now. We see similar behavior in male college graduation - more guys are going to college, but many more women are going.

Given that the ratio of men to women hasn't changed all that much, that is significant. Maybe the figures for women will level off (IOW, maybe this was a rush into the "market" that isn't sustainable?)

Posted by: Cassandra at May 12, 2010 02:29 PM

I think your closure on "lack of standards to live up to" is somewhere in the right direction. Add to that oppressive "zero tolerance" rules for violence and bullying that I have personally observed used by bullies against my kids and encourages a "run to authority" mentality rather than a "take care of it" mentality.
Also add an attitude throughought the entertainment media that men are a joke (Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs has an excellent presentation whose theme centers on "the war on work" at TED: http://www.ted.com/talks/mike_rowe_celebrates_dirty_jobs.html), and family court rules rigged against guys in many cases (I thank god every day that despite the circumstances - my ex getting herself killed in an DWI-related car accident as the driver - that my son lives with me and not my alcoholic, abusive ex).
I'll add one quote - a song lyric from a band I love for their refusal to deal in nihilism and antiheroes]:

The pages of our history
are written by the hand
with eyes and ears and prejudice
too far removed- to understand
and so the heroes of the ages past
are stripped of honesty- and love
to make them seem less noble
and hide what we can become

I think culture in general is trying to take away the idea of striving for greatness and nobility. That honor is laughed at in many parts of it, and the values we associate with protectors are being buried under muck.

And then we complain that men no longer want to achieve?

Posted by: Darius at May 12, 2010 02:37 PM

I think culture in general is trying to take away the idea of striving for greatness and nobility. That honor is laughed at in many parts of it, and the values we associate with protectors are being buried under muck.

Great insight. After home schooling for a year, I had to put my boys in public school. Their test scores were off the charts but the school administration seemed more concerned with not stressing my kids out than placing them in challenging classes.

After moving to Maryland and living in a neighborhood I hated so my son could go to one of the top public high schools in the nation, the change in attitude was stunning. Most of the kids in this new school had parents who were high achievers and set ambitious goals for their children.

Very different environment.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 12, 2010 02:45 PM

I added a link to census.gov regarding education as a predictor of voter participation. Here's the key graf:

Citizens with at least some college are two-and-two-thirds more likely to vote than those with a high school education or less. Those in professional occupations are 43 percent more likely to vote than individuals in other types of occupations. Employed individuals are more likely to vote than those who are not in the labor force. With increasing income, individuals are more likely to vote. Homeowners are nearly 40 percent more likely to vote than those who rent or do not own their homes.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 12, 2010 02:53 PM

I'll toss out a data point for consideration: I just went and looked up some incarceration stats at the DoJ's Web site. According to them, 2.5M people were in prison in the U.S. in 2008. If we make the conventional assumption that less than 10% were women, that accounts for about 1/4 of the voter gap in 2008. How much is kind of hard to say, since we don't know how many of these guys would have voted if they had not been in prison.

Posted by: Cousin Dave at May 12, 2010 03:15 PM

I'll tell you what I think the incarceration rate affects more than anything else: the illegitimacy rate.

When the supply of available men goes down, women can't afford to be as selective and men don't have to marry them to get sex.

As to how many of those guys would have voted, that's a good question. The census data suggests not many (since not that many well educated, married homeowners with high income end up in jail) but I could well be wrong!

However, rising illegitimacy (I would argue) should also be a big factor in declining educational outcomes for boys. Boys need fathers.

Dads set the standard and serve as role models. They are vitally important to both boys and girls, but I would argue that maybe boys need fathers even more than girls do (and that's a lot!)

Posted by: Cassandra at May 12, 2010 03:30 PM

I'll have to amend my thinking, given the data from the census. Does it explain the gender gap though? It could certainly account for the widening in the gap, which is a second order effect. But, I'm not sure it adequately explains the gap directly.

Curious though. In one sense though this data indicates that in broad terms, there is substantial equality between the sexes. Sure, we've got pay differential issues, and differences in representation in certain fields, but those might not be great indicators for equality. Broad access to higher education, broad political representation, seem to me to be a little better way of looking at things.

It's a good thing.

Posted by: Allen at May 12, 2010 03:53 PM

After moving to Maryland and living in a neighborhood I hated so my son could go to one of the top public high schools in the nation, the change in attitude was stunning. Most of the kids in this new school had parents who were high achievers and set ambitious goals for their children.

Very different environment.

Heh. Living in Charleston we managed to land a slot in the Academic Magnet here (consistently in the top 10 per Newsweek and a very tough school) - and I am glad of it. He'd be terminally bored elsewhere.

Posted by: Darius at May 12, 2010 03:57 PM

Good post, Cass, and I second Levi's comments about the importance of what you are doing here. And I very much agree about the importance of avoiding victim-oriented, "poor me" thinking.

However, I think only part of the demoralization of young men is due to the perceived anti-male bias of society. Another part is due to the almost insane increase in credentialism, leading to the feeling that if you're not a graduate of one of the few "elite" schools, you life options will be greatly limited. Everything the current administration and its supporters are doing tends to increase the basis for this perception.

Posted by: david foster at May 12, 2010 05:25 PM

Re the comment I just made about credentialism, see my post about Intellectual Nondiversity and especially the Peter Drucker excerpt. Things have changed, and not for the better, since Prof Drucker wrote this in 1968.

Posted by: david foster at May 12, 2010 05:27 PM

Who's to blame when boys don't go to college? Parents who don't raise their kids with the explicit understanding that the kids WILL go to college; the kids themselves for not getting with the program. There are so many individual exceptions to the "generalization" that boys aren't going to college, that I don't accept that it is "society's fault" or "feminism's fault". Many parents (lazy parents) who don't believe that an education is important will communicate that attitude to their kids one way or another, and probably most of those kids will have the same attitude; thank God for those who won't adopt their parents' thinking (or lack of thinking) as their own.

Posted by: I Call BS at May 12, 2010 08:11 PM

I'll just wave my hand in the direction of my comments the last time this topic went around. The economy is changing: men are choosing to let some fields such as office work go, because they're happier doing other things (and, in some cases, because men don't always enjoy mixed gender work environments).

These are choices they're making, for reasons of their own. They'll have to find a way to get by. Some of them will do well, and some won't. That's life.

Women, meanwhile, are largely competing for the center. There lies stability, but probably neither great wealth, great power, or great joy. That's a choice they're free to make, and mostly they'll do fine by it. More women will become primary breadwinners because some of the men who pursue wealth, power or joy will fail; that's the market.

It doesn't strike me as a bad deal for men, though. Or for women. Both are getting what they want.

Posted by: Grim at May 12, 2010 08:44 PM

Mrs Tingle observes that intelligent women once just about *had* to go into teaching or nursing, but now have expanded career opportunities, resulting in lower intelligence of average teaching candidates.

This is true, but it is the combination of this factor with *other* factors that has been so devastating. At the same time this trend was happening, schools were also sinking into disciplinary chaos, micromanaging teacher activities, and coming under the domination of selfish and narrow-minded unions. So women (and men) who would have chosen teaching *even though* they have career options are being driven away, and the people who do choose teaching are too often those who value security and a rule-driven work environment not requiring thought or initiative above all else.

Posted by: david foster at May 12, 2010 09:14 PM

... the people who do choose teaching are too often those who value security and a rule-driven work environment not requiring thought or initiative above all else.

Isn't this comment fairly insulting to the teachers among us?

Posted by: I Call BS at May 12, 2010 10:27 PM

There are certainly many teachers who nobly choose the field and strive to do a good job despite the structural problems which make it so unnecessarily difficult. But there would be a lot more of them if the system were less dysfunctional.

Posted by: david foster at May 12, 2010 10:41 PM

Unlike my girlfriend, I never finished college.
(A fact which tends to reinforce the article)

At this point in my illustrious (?) career however, I am quite comfortable with remaining a "permanent senior" forevermore...or until I die, whichever comes first.
(Probably the latter)

I've only got a few years 'til retirement from a well paid job in the Military-Industrial Complex™, so what would the point of matriculation be now? ;-)

Posted by: camojack at May 13, 2010 01:14 AM

The Empress and I where very young parents, having two daughters less than two years apart by the time we where twenty and a son before we where twenty five. Despite our youth all three successfully navigated public schools and have gone to college. Not knowing what we were doing we taught our children to read, write, count, add, and subtract before they started school. We both worked and I myself was in college at the time but at least one of us sat at the table while they did homework or attended school activities. Both girls have a bachelor’s degree and the boy is well on his way and stands a good chance of graduating if he survives rubbing in his “superior intellect” in his father’s face for another two years.

Girls were, at least while my three attended, given an extra push. There were poor teachers and all of the other issues raised but in attending parent teacher conferences I observed what I consider the biggest problem. Most parents do not like to hear that their child has problems, socially or academically, so a teacher presents this “rosy” review of a child performance that I would laugh at and ask for the “real” evaluation. One poor lady fell out of her chair when I told her that I knew my daughter was a good student but if I thought she was perfect then I wouldn’t have needed to come to the conference. I wanted to know what subjects my daughter was having trouble with so we could work with her at home. By the time my son entered school his teachers had a “special” packet on conference day with lists of subjects he was only slightly above average at.

My wife and I invested ourselves into our children and their education and did our best to filter out the faults of the “system”. Parenting, it’s not just a job. It’s a pain in the butt. And worth it too.

Posted by: crazy mike at May 13, 2010 06:17 AM

My wife and I invested ourselves into our children and their education and did our best to filter out the faults of the “system”. Parenting, it’s not just a job. It’s a pain in the butt. And worth it too. Posted by: crazy mike at May 13, 2010 06:17 AM

This is what it takes - involved parents. Maybe you should change your moniker, Mike, cuz this isn't crrazy at all.

Posted by: I Call BS at May 13, 2010 11:44 AM

There are certainly many teachers who nobly choose the field and strive to do a good job despite the structural problems which make it so unnecessarily difficult. But there would be a lot more of them if the system were less dysfunctional.

This sounds like a description of life generally, because every walk of life is populated by "those who value security and a rule-driven work environment not requiring thought or initiative above all else".

Posted by: I Call BS at May 13, 2010 11:46 AM

It's facile to say the destructive effects of empty credentialism and rent-seeking on public eduction is simply a truism of human endeavor. It's a much worse problem than usual in state-run monopolies with captive student bodies. No doubt there remain some good public school teachers here and there, but they're present in spite of the system, not because of it. The same is not true of teachers in private schools, so I don't buy that it's merely a restatement of the universal predicament.

Posted by: Texan99 at May 13, 2010 01:09 PM

ICBS...do you *really* believe that the mix of risk-takers versus security-seekers is the across professions and types of organizations? NASCAR drivers and fighter pilots the same as accounting clerks? Engineers who join startups in which the majority of their compensation is stock-option-based versus engineers who do no such thing?

Posted by: david foster at May 13, 2010 01:50 PM

It's just a fact of life that many teachers choose that career because of the summer vacations. They can do other things, which makes up for the rule bound mindset.

Unfortunately, schools don't have security created by rules any more. Bullies now run the grounds in some territories.

Like an inkblot strategy, it just starts spreading from a center of contact.

Also, the economic prospects vs the economic investment for 2 year/specialized credentials vs 4 year college degrees are totally on the side of the 2 years.

That also includes BSNs for the medical field. Simply a nurse practitioner or similar schooling is sufficient and less stressful than full medical school. In the past, a man that wanted to be a doctor would always go to medical and graduate. Because nursing wasn't exactly well looked upon. And not just because it was widely seen as a woman's field.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at May 13, 2010 04:03 PM

This sounds like a description of life generally, because every walk of life is populated by "those who value security and a rule-driven work environment not requiring thought or initiative above all else".

Based upon what. Your life experience.

Last time I checked, your haven't seen every walk of life let alone walked it.

The inability to realize that the mountains surrounding one's home village isn't the farthest that the world goes, is pretty important.

There are plenty of people who actively go looking for risk like the golden age explorers. I'd be careful labeling the entire living style of humanity according to the limited perception and wisdom of a single human.

Security is not defined by the Left nor their Socialist and Civilized Utopia.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at May 13, 2010 04:07 PM

Well, from what I've seen and read, a big part of the problem is that boys get discouraged early in elementary school. Public school doesn't give a boy much breathing room to be a boy anymore; many schools have eliminated recess and physical education.

It used to be people constantly told boys that they should protect their little sisters, that older brothers have strength so that it will be used for the protection of the weaker members of the family.

Now a days, you see something else from Hollywood and popular mechanics. It is not that people automatically slide into bad habits from watching MTV, it is that they don't automatically devote their energies into productive paths.

There are various mind blocks in place to prevent ungood thoughts. If a boy wanted to use his strength to protect the weak, he's now has anger issues or ADD or is a girl hater. If he joins the military later, now he has PTSD and is a monster or freak that society should shun or control. It deters people from thinking certain bad thoughts because of the threat of social punishment. It fixes people by forcing them to conform. Those that conform are rated Good. Those that do not, are rated as mentally unstable and in need of a lobotomy (called sensitivity training).

This is the popular unconsciousness. Often times unstated under the veneer of civilized society, but people can't help run through such thoughts on a regular cycle. The very fact that it is unspoken also means it is unchallenged. Nobody will ever investigate the source of their beliefs because nobody told them it was wrong.

If a man had strength, he was supposed to use it to protect his girlfriend. Now because the genders are supposed to be equal, the normal contract is no longer available. The biology, human nature, and inexperience didn't change, just the cultural template. So whereas in the past if something went wrong here, all those energetic hormones were channeled towards taking responsibility on the part of the man and fixing himself. Now that labors are divided equally between the sexes, supposedly, men no longer have this unstated assumption that they will always be the ones relied upon in certain areas. So they have no where to focus their energies. All they can do is blame somebody else, since it is easier than improving themselves and since there is a great justification for doing so from popular culture. If things are equal between the sexes, the blame must be equal to. Although it probably doesn't look like that to people embroiled in emotions.

Still, the automatic response will then become to blame others, because there is no longer a stronger societal impulse for the man to take responsibility of a situation and fix it himself, by himself. Now it is equality. Victim classes can do no wrong and the patriarchy that is known as the oppressor class can do no right. It becomes very easy for high strung individuals, especially young people, indoctrinated in this societal fabric to explode on people when they feel that something has gone wrong and their emotions tell them it is this other person at fault because their actions are the source of the pain. Well, who feels pain? Victims. Can victim classes ever do wrong? No way, Hose. So that must mean the other person is an oppressor class, part of the patriarchy, white culture, institutional racism, Corporate street, etc. The fact that they don't even know that their behavior is controlled by society and their emotions, rather than their own will, just makes them all the easier to control.

Well, the thing about equality is that it doesn't work unless there's actual cooperation skills going on. Equality doesn't exist when Islam tells you to convert to Islam or have your head cut off. It looks equal, for Muslims. It looks harmonious.

Society's main purpose is to do things that human beings can't consciously or automatically do on their own. Somewhere humans figured out that human instincts didn't provide all that great an advantage in survival once you just let people free to do whatever they wanted. So society, which is a bunch of people, gathered together to set down some base rules so that they could have a higher chance of survival and not killing themselves through infighting.

Well, first off, that society has to handle the education of the young. Given human mortality rates back in the past, the society that better trains and indoctrinates the next generation to be smarter, faster, stronger, than the previous generation, had a leg up on the game.

Coincidentally, the education programs of the last several decades or so in America has been designed to produce generations of young people that are dumber, slower, and weaker than the previous generations. Funny how that worked out.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at May 13, 2010 04:28 PM

While things have not gone entirely the Left's way, there have been momentary and geographically isolated successes. Obama can be considered an "import" student, but Ayers is entirely homegrown so we can have pride in claiming him as our own. Both in terms of a person that was indoctrinated by the Left successfully and in terms of a person that successfully indoctrinates others, including Obama once Obama got to be a semi-adult and wanted to become a permanent semi-adult con artist and malignant narcissist.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at May 13, 2010 04:31 PM

ICBS...do you *really* believe that the mix of risk-takers versus security-seekers is the across professions and types of organizations? NASCAR drivers and fighter pilots the same as accounting clerks? Engineers who join startups in which the majority of their compensation is stock-option-based versus engineers who do no such thing? Posted by: david foster at May 13, 2010 01:50 PM

Good point; point taken.

Posted by: I Call BS at May 14, 2010 06:35 PM

One problem with getting and keeping good teachers is the seniority system. A family member just won the teacher-of-the year award at his high school and was let go because he did not have high enough seniority. Meanwhile, the two teachers that parents are calling the district and asking to have removed remain on full payroll and retirement and refuse buy-outs. And there is nothing else the district can try to get rid of them. My relative is rather frustrated by this, as you can imagine. As are the parents of the students in this high school.

Another problem is discipline. I was warned away from teaching in public schools because I am not physically imposing enough to keep order in the classrooms where I'd be sent.

As to the larger topic, I think the public class's (media, Hollywood, academia) diminution of the value of the "manly virtues" has something to do with a lot of the problems and observations we've discussed here on VC. Lack of challenges, coddeling boys and girls, not making people accept responsibility for their actions, calling people "heroes" who are not, et cetera. But that's my $.02

Posted by: LittleRed1 at May 18, 2010 03:11 PM

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