January 24, 2006

Boys Will Be, well, Boys: a Call to Actions for Dads

National Review Online (see link below) has a great article that analyzes the recent Newsweek reports on the "boy crisis" in education.

Many of you will be familiar with Christina Hoff Sommers book The War Against Boys. But if you were like me, you were interested, you agreed (mostly) but were resigned to the reign of the feminist agenda in public education. As the Newsweek puts it (quoted in NRO), you were resigned to public education treating our boys "like defective girls".

For some of us this could be listed among our motivations to homeschool - or at least listed among the benefits received. It seems though, now science may be vindicating what every Father and every Mother of a boy knows - boys are different.

Compared to the fairer sex, we experience differently, we process differently, we grasp and understand and breakdown differently. We learn differently. That we do so is starting to be traced back to our fundamentally unique biology.

What it means is that the way boys are educated should be differently as well. This is certainly not to say that we as a society have produced a crop of stupid boys or ones so feminized as to not be able to relate to their fathers or each other as men. Neither is it to say that the effort to better educate girls according to their unique biological makeup and learning strengths was wrong-headed. Rather it is to say that in so doing, the pedagogical pendulum has swung too far. Indeed, it may even now support the idea of crafting another pendulum, another pedagogy. One that compliments the girls - one that focuses on how boys learn and thrive.

The article is clear, too, that the crafters of this boy-based pedagogy must be us, the dads, the fathers, the men in the lives of our sons and the friends of our boys.

"'One of the most reliable predictors of whether a boy will succeed or fail in high school,' Newsweek reports, 'rests on a single question: Does he have a man in his life to look up to?'...an adolescent boy without a father figure is like an explorer without a map."

As fathers of homeschooled boys, we need to ensure that we are there as men. Our boys need to be able to look up to us and see how to learn, how to walk, how to be men. This is not about teaching our sons how to shoot a gun or change the oil in the car. But it is about showing them, living out before them, how a man deals with challenges, overcomes problems, deduces logical conclusions from premises, wins competitively, and loses gracefully. It is about showing how to be gentle but firm, inventive but accomodating, excited but patient, passionate about being correct while empathetic to those who are not where we are just yet. It is leadership.

Dads, it is about being involved with the home schooling of our sons. The education of our boys is not the sole responsibility of our wives.

This is your call to action.

Read the article HERE (it is short)


  1. Awesome post, sending it to my husband.

  2. We have the same concerns here in Australia. That is why I prefer working from home and getting involved in the children's education. After all, their education is both parent's responsibility. Too many either pass it off to a school or onto the one doing the teaching.
    Yet, although my wife does most of the one on one teaching, I get involved in curriculum choice, teaching aids, discipline ("Don't call Dad!") and often much of the "fun" stuff.
    The children really enjoy dads being involved.

  3. Mamadala8:37 AM

    Agreed. And the father's involvement in a homeschooling family becomes all the more important as boys enter adolescence. I believe many families give up on homeschooling at this age because moms alone cannot provide their sons with the accountability and direction they need.