As an educator for the past two decades, boys have been in academic crisis. “Nearly twice as many boys as girls have trouble reading, are diagnosed with language disabilities, and are referred to special education classes. 41% of children in the United States are not reading at a basic level by third grade, and a majority of them are boys.”
- Boys are more likely to get lower grades than girls
- Boys are more likely to get suspended, expelled
- Boys are more likely to be diagnosed and prescribed ADHD medication
- Boys are more likely to be placed in special education programs.
- For every 100 girls who repeat kindergarten, 194 boys repeat kindergarten.
- Boys are 50% more likely to be held back a grade
- Of high school dropouts, 80% are males.
In the article America’s Boy Crisis, Crichton writes about America experiencing 26 mass shootings in the last 10 years. These shootings were committed by deeply troubled youth, aged 12 to 25 years old. All were male, and more than half were white.
In his research he discovered, all gave warning signs that were ignored by authority figures. I will state that they were not noticed by many people involved in their lives. Mental Health issues overlooked and not provided to our youth for many years.
Six of these shooters, based on information available, lived in fatherless homes.
Critchlow refers to this as a lost generation—Generation Z, those born between the years of 1997-2012. He describes this generation as semi-illiterate, addicted to social media, and secular.
African American and Hispanic youth have seen reports of academic risks at high rates, also tied in many cases with fatherless homes and other barriers over the past decades. White males experienced similar barriers, challenges, and academic shortcomings. It is not a race issue, but a gender issue. All of our boys are at risk, with some facing a higher level of challenges and barriers, but all at risk.
I know from my involvement in education and trainings, sociologists and experts have talked for decades about social consequences of fatherless households. Now I know single moms can do an excellent job in raising children, but mentioned in the article is evidence in research where the one’s who could not have issues.
“Less time is spent by youth today than a decade ago on socializing, attending parties, sporting, or entertainment events. Drugs, legal, and illegal, are destroying young men. In 2021 alone, 107,000 opioid deaths have occurred. Most of these deaths (69%) occurred among males.”
“Farrell and Gray identify four crises that boys now face: a crisis of education, a crisis of physical health, a crisis of economic health, and a crisis of mental health. All these lead to a void of purpose in many young men’s lives, and a consequent struggle to achieve a sense of self-worth.” –Bob Funk. Warren Farrell and John Gary are the authors of the book The Boy Crisis.
In conclusion, I would like to make a few points to ponder about the young boys in our lives. Since I entered the world of education way back in the late 80’s, boys have been in crisis. I do believe if we would look at the data they were in crisis before I began. All of our boys are in crisis. I will also say our children boys and girls are in crisis. My focus for this blog is on the boys.
Are there specific things you are doing to support the boys in your school? Do you have ideas to share? Boys learn differently than girls. It is important for all of us to remember, one glove does not fit all.
I will have more to share about supporting boys in education. The most important things we need to remember are:
- These issues are real for our boys today. They have just went through a global pandemic causing trauma.
- Listen to the narratives of the news and note all of the negatives involving young men.
- Mental Health, Social Emotional Needs, Physical Needs, Educational Needs all need to be addressed.
Additional resources for this topic would be Michael Gurian who has written 24 books in the field of education, parenting, and psychology of boys and girls. Christina Hoff Sommers’ book The War Against Boys, How Misguided Policies Are Harming Our Young Men or Michael Thompson’s work in this field. In addition, I discovered an article written by Donald T. Critchlow discussing how mass shootings spotlight a lost generation of white youths mentioned in the blog.
Tom Mortenson, Pell Institute
Michael Thompson, Ph.D. and Teresa H. Barker, It’s a Boy, p.201.
Michael Gurian with Kathy Stevens, Boys & Girls Learn Differently, p.36.
Michael Thompson, Ph.D. and Teresa H. Barker, It’s a Boy, p.211.
Michael Gurian with Kathy Stevens, Boys & Girls Learn Differently, p.122.
Michael Thompson, Ph.D. and Teresa H. Barker, It’s a Boy, p.186.
Michael Gurian with Kathy Stevens, Boys & Girls Learn Differently, p.307.
Michael Gurian and Kathy Stevens, The Minds of Boys, p.255.
Michael Gurian with Kathy Stevens, Boys & Girls Learn Differently, p.308.
Michael Gurian and Kathy Stevens, The Minds of Boys, p.22.
Donald T. Critchlow, Katzin Family Foundation professor at Arizona State University, is the author of Revolutionary Minds: Five Monsters Who Turned Liberation Into Tyranny