Friday, February 12, 2010

Richard Whitmire on Why Boys Fail

Richard Whitmire, an education writer who did a Q&A with us last year on various educational issues, and who co-write an op-ed with me for Ed Week on skipping grades, has a new book out called Why Boys Fail. He argues that while reading and verbal skills have become increasingly important, and emphasized, in the early grades, boys haven't caught up. As a result, they start out behind, and in many cases stay lost. He argues that the current collegiate practice of accepting young men with fewer qualifications than young women is needed at least for a few years until the gender ratio becomes closer to 45-55 (it's currently 43-57 men to women). He also warns, in a world in which young women still seem to prefer to marry men with equal or more education than they have, of a marriage gap as women can't find suitable husbands.

It's interesting stuff, if a bit controversial. Yes, women now comprise 50% of US non-farm payroll employment, but looking around the centers of power in this world -- the big corporations, the government, big law firms, banks, even non-profits -- it's kind of hard to argue that men are underrepresented at the top. But it is always dangerous to think that what is true now will be true in the future, and we will be better off if men and women all learn the skills necessary to succeed in this new economy. You can read a Q&A with him on the topic here in USA Today.


Kirsten said...

Look at the age of the men in charge. The effect of greater educational achievement of women has been much more recent than the time those men were getting their BAs, if they did at all.

TJ's Mom said...

I agree with Kirsten. The switch from teaching reading in the 1st grade to teaching it in kindergarten happened, in my elementary school, the year my younger sister entered kindy and I was in first grade. I did not learn to read (in school), or have any type of assigned reader, and she did. I am 30 and she is 28. If these men in power are say, 35 or above, I would say that they are more than likely unaffected by the shift to expecting higher levels of literacy in younger grades, based on my elementary school experience. The "But there hasn't been a woman president!" argument is juvenile and I really wished people who don't care much for boy children would remind themselves that we are talking about children and to check their own baggage at the door.