Boys will be boys. That’s a problem.
For many years I have considered this expression as a miserable excuse for male bad behavior. A new book gave me a very different take. Of Boys and Men by Richard Reeves speaks to just how males struggle and fall behind in education. When the Federal Title lX was passed in 1972 to promote gender equality in higher education, 13% more bachelor’s degrees went to men than to women. By 2019 this gap was more than reversed. 15% more women gained this degree than did men.
Reeves cites this and many other statistics to state the dilemma. Here’s a short passage:
Girls are 14 percentage points more likely than boys to be “school ready” at age 5, for example, controlling for parental characteristics. This is a much bigger gap than the one between rich and poor children, or Black and white children, or between those who attend preschool and those who do not.
I have for years felt that achievement gaps were largely due to poverty and the effects of color. My view needed to allow for a difference I had never considered.
If the data in the book interests you, do read the first few chapters of the book to learn what appears to cause this male challenge. In a nutshell, the challenge is not how boys develop brain functions but when they do so. It appears to be several years later in life than with girls, which leads to the performance gap for genders of the same age. One answer may be to start boys in school two years later than girls. I do appreciate the controversies that would cause!
For now, I leave this as a lesson for me and perhaps you. No matter how firmly we hold our beliefs, it is good to be open to new information—even when it does not confirm what we think we know.