2005 January 25 Tuesday
Feminists Undermining Reading Development Of Boys

Mark Bauerlein and Sandra Stotsky have an article in the Washington Post about how feminist changes in school books are turning boys off from reading.

The other report, "Trends in Educational Equity of Girls and Women: 2004," is from the Education Department. Between 1992 and 2002, among high school seniors, girls lost two points in reading scores and boys six points, leaving a 16-point differential in their averages on tests given by the National Assessment of Educational Progress. In the fall semester of kindergarten in 1998, on a different test, girls outperformed boys by 0.9 points. By the spring semester, the difference had nearly doubled, to 1.6 points.

Read the whole article for more depressing trends in education.

Why the widening gap? Feminists have gotten control of the curricula of grade schools and high schools and removed books that have stories that appeal to boys.

Unfortunately, the textbooks and literature assigned in the elementary grades do not reflect the dispositions of male students. Few strong and active male role models can be found as lead characters. Gone are the inspiring biographies of the most important American presidents, inventors, scientists and entrepreneurs. No military valor, no high adventure. On the other hand, stories about adventurous and brave women abound. Publishers seem to be more interested in avoiding "masculine" perspectives or "stereotypes" than in getting boys to like what they are assigned to read.

Boys are not allowed to read stories of boys being boys or men being men. Instead they are given books that portray ethnic group oppression, stories on how to be sensitive to the feelings of others, and other politically correct nonsense. The result is a decline in reading ability.

This brings to mind dizzy feminist MIT biology professor Nancy Hopkins who reinforced stereotypes about women recently when, near fainting, she fled from a talk by Harvard President Lawrence Summers on why women do not do as well getting tenured positions and advancing in the elite universities (great coverage here. The idea that there are, on average, biological differences in how male and female minds work or that the statistical distribution of ability is different in males and females are taboo facts in much of academia. Never mind that these are real facts. Never mind that brain differences in the sexes stretch all the way back to gene expression in early fetal development. Ideologues reject empirical results that clash with their secular religion. Though perhaps Hopkins' near fainting is understandable because any news that might undermine the feminist extortion racket would be costly to those who benefit so much from it. But that racket is exacting a high cost including fear on the part of more inquisitive and empirical academics who hesitate to put forth theories that clash with the assertions of feminist ideologues (and Pinker really is pulling his punches in his responses at that link). Oh, and also see Jane Galt on the reaction to the Larry Summers comments.

In an earlier and more realistic era in all likelihood an obviously very sensitive woman such as Ms. Hopkins would have been protected from upsetting discussions about serious facts of life by Victorian gentlemen who, aware of the need to shelter and protect the fairer sex, would have avoided discussing the harsh facts of life in her presence. The gentlemen would have been as quick to catch her when she fainted as they would have been to open physical doors for her. Plus, they would have had smelling salts ready to revive her. Those Victorian gentlemen also would have made sure that the local headmaster provided plenty of appropriate reading for young boys with stories of brave men exploring distant continents, defending the honor of women, hunting lions, battling seastorms, and riding into battle. Biographies of men who lived challenging lives would have inspired the boys to read and to strive in their own lives. But today we live in an increasingly feminized culture where boys are made to feel that there is something deeply wrong with their very nature while they are simultaneously told that they are not different from girls in any way outside of how they are socialized.

Patti Hausman has some great comments on the Larry Summers flap.

What is it like right now to be a student of Nancy Hopkins? To see your dissertation advisor as so fragile that she walks out of an academic meeting because she can't stand hearing an idea? What are students to do if they reach conclusions at odds with her thinking? What is it like to attend a university where the committee on the status of women feels free to chastise the president for discussing a legitimate topic supported by decades of peer-reviewed scientific research? What does his willingness to back off when confronted with their pressure say to students who want to pursue research on that topic? Or to students who want to pursue research on any controversial subject?

Invariably, many will argue that Summers upset female students by broaching the issue of whether males, as a group, have an edge in the cognitive abilities needed to succeed in science and engineering. Granted, this sounds like concern for the students, and perhaps it is. Regardless, it is wrongheaded. A university does not educate its students by insulating them from well-documented facts that some may find disturbing. Moreover, the notion that discussing group differences will affect the choices made by individuals is purely speculative. I have yet to see evidence that a woman with the ability and interest to pursue a career in physics will be deterred upon learning that such a pattern is relatively rare.

Of course, the conventional wisdom has long been that female students have not chosen science as a career because they have lacked female scientists as role models. Actually, what male and female students alike need as role models are people who act like real scientists.

Nancy Hopkins, Lawrence Summers, and members of Harvard's Standing Committee on Women have let them down. Bigtime.

Students are being let down from grade school onward by ideologues intent upon suppressing the truth about human nature. The damage the ideologues are causing is real and manifests in a variety of ways including declining reading test scores of boys illustrate. Another way the damage is being felt is in highly politicized tenure decisions that effectively place a big weight in favor of tenure candidates who have the right sex, ethnicity, or ideological beliefs. Also, the truth of what is known about human nature is being hidden from students. Our schools have been broken by ideologues promoting intellectual frauds. Our schools need to be fixed.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2005 January 25 12:47 PM  Education


Comments
TangoMan said at January 25, 2005 7:09 PM:

Randall,

Excellent post, but you've just led me to flush the one I was going to write on this issue down the toilet, LOL. This whole issue of feminization of curricla goes hand in hand with the series of posts I had on Anti-Racist Math. These twits are doing real damage to the foundations of our nation. Their need to justify their own existance in the Academy has led them to develop social constructivism and they seek to remake the world to their inanity. Did you know that:

Social constructivists do not deny that modern science has discovered some truths about nature that are universally valid — Newton’s law of gravity for example. But even these universals are seen as products of the Judeo–Christian and masculine assumptions of Western cultures. To paraphrase Sandra Harding, one of the best known proponents of feminist standpoint epistemology, other cultures are capable of producing alternative universals of their own. Which culture’s universals get universalised and which ones are consigned to the status of ethno–sciences, is not decided by superior explanatory power, but by superior political power. Well–known scholars including Andrew Ross and David Hess wrote books arguing that the line between accepted science and heterodox sciences of cultural minorities is an arbitrary construct reflecting cultural and ideological interests of those in power. Dipesh Chakrabarty, a subaltern historian, expressed the sentiment well when he wrote that “reason is but a dialect backed by an army.”

Read some of the quotes I pulled from Harding's book, and look at what passes for graduate level study in the Faculty of Education. And teachers wonder why parents are flocking from the public education system.

PacRim Jim said at January 26, 2005 5:20 PM:

At the local high school, kids are reading The Color Purple and other ephemera instead of the classics of Western civilization. Dumb teachers, dumb students.

PreciousFuture said at January 27, 2005 10:56 PM:

Sad! Truly sad! Feminism unwinds the very fabric of our nation. It's acidic poison has rotted out and destroyed the structure that our fathers had fought so hard to build. As a woman and as a Christian, I am ashamed of what these selfish people are doing in the name of women's rights.

nectarflowed said at January 30, 2005 2:12 AM:

Excellent post. Egalitarianism is a human ideal that we all treasure in some degree, but to sacrifice function for this kind of simplistic egalitarianism is extreme, as well as damaging.

Brent Anderson said at January 31, 2005 4:06 PM:

I was all over this too: http://brentanderson.blogspot.com/2005/01/why-johnny-wont-read-educators-are.html

It made me angry for nearly three days.


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