The questions afterward are more difficult. But he just has no motivation to learn. What does he like to do in his spare time? Science fiction mostly. He just refuses to read the books the school assigns. Dad named a local private school that I knew to be very prestigious.
Class sizes at that school are small. The teachers are well trained and highly regarded. Tuition is more than twenty thousand dollars a year. Stall for time. He nodded. How could he have ADD? Billy loves to read. That was the truth—but I knew it would sound like a cop-out, since I was flying out early the next morning to return to my home in the suburbs of Washington, DC. There would be no time to meet with Billy on this trip. Second grade. Outside of school my Jason is as sweet as an angel.
He says he was just playing. Referral to a specialist is mandatory after three episodes. But I knew better than to say that. So I turned the tables. What do you think is going on? Do you have any thoughts as to why your son is having a problem? My son, and my daughter last year, came home with homework their first week of kindergarten. Can you imagine assigning homework to kids in kindergarten?
Fiveyear-old kids with an hour of homework to do. No wonder kids hate school. But why would that affect boys more than girls, I wanted to ask. The teachers all want the students to sit still and be quiet. The boys especially. We had to walk. Even in the snow. I think it motivates you. Nowadays the kids get chauffeured everywhere. The pace of my speaking engagements, both for parents and for teachers, picked up substantially after the publication in of my book Why Gender Matters: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know About the Emerging Science of Sex Differences.
The scene described above has been repeated dozens of times. Some parents blame the school. One parent even blamed Hillary Clinton, and several blamed George W. But how would spending more money on public schools help your son, I wondered.here
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Your son attends a private school. I was interested in finding some answers. We have more than seven thousand patients in our practice. The opposite pattern—with the boy being the intense, successful child while his sister is relaxed and unconcerned about her future—is rare. It affects every variety of community: urban, suburban, and rural; white, black, Asian, and Hispanic; affluent, middle-income, and low-income. The end result of this spreading malaise is becoming increasingly familiar. Emily or Maria or Shaniqua goes to college, she earns her degree, she gets a job.
She has a life. He may have a great time at college, in part because there are now three girls at college for every two boys. At some large universities, there are now two young women for every young man. But the young women at college are more likely to be studying while the young men are goofing off. He ends up working part-time at the mall or at Starbucks. His parents are. All rights reserved. Ferris Bueller disdains school because he has other more important and engaging missions to accomplish in the real world—which for him is any world outside of school.
They disdain school because they disdain everything. Nothing really excites them. Geeks care about grades. For many boys, not caring about anything has become the mark of true guydom. There is no trace of irony in the song. Can you imagine Akon or 50 Cent or Snoop Dogg or even Taylor Hicks singing, without irony and in all seriousness, about wanting to earn an A at school to impress a girl?
These changes may be insignificant by themselves, but I believe they are symptomatic of something deeper. More and more of them will tell you that school is a bore, a waste of time, a tedium they endure each day until the final bell rings.
As far as the boy is concerned, his real life—the life he cares about—only begins each day when the final bell rings, allowing him finally to leave school and do something he really cares about. It may be anything at all—except for school or anything connected with school. Why would I want to sign up for four more years? Right now, the student body at the average university in the United States is 58 percent female, 42 percent male with similar numbers in Canada and Australia.
In fact, college is where the gender gap in motivation really shows up. Most girls who enroll in a four-year college will eventually earn a degree. Here are the numbers for the male proportion of students enrolled in fouryear colleges and universities in the United States, — 70 percent of undergraduate students were male 64 percent were male 59 percent were male THE RIDDLE 9 49 percent were male 46 percent were male 44 percent were male 42 percent were male5 Colleges and universities now are scrambling to recruit qualified males. One mother told me that when it was time for her son to apply to college, she had some worries that turned out to be misplaced.
Her recollection of her own college experiences thirty years ago led her to be concerned that admission offices would discriminate against her son, because, after all, he is a white male. Just thirty years ago, the opposite was true: in that era, young men were more likely than young women to graduate. This is not an issue of race or class. They have the same parents, the same resources. Certainly, not all boys have been infected by this weird new virus of apathy. Some are still as driven and intense as their sisters.
They still want the same independence, financial and otherwise, for which we expect young people to strive. Why does one young man succeed, while another young man from the same neighborhood—or even the same household—drifts along, unconcerned? Is there anything you can do about it? Those will be the central questions that you and I will explore together. In , I wrote an academic paper on this topic for a journal published by the American Psychological Association.
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That book was in part a progress report on my research on this question, although I also addressed some of the ways in which American society has become toxic to girls. In addition to being a board-certified family physician, I have the advantage of being a PhD psychologist with a background in scholarly research. More Than Just School This book begins with a careful evaluation of how the theory and practice of education have changed over the past forty years, and how those changes have disengaged a growing proportion of boys from school.
But this book is about much more than boys disengaging from school. In chapter 5, for example, we will consider evidence that some characteristics of modern life—factors found literally in the food we eat and the water we drink— may have the net effect of emasculating boys. We will see that the average young man today has a sperm count less than half what his grandfather had at the same age.
The explanations for the drop in sperm counts and for the decline in bone density are complex, as we will see. In chapter 3, we will explore in detail the controversy surrounding video games. We will hear from respected scholars who insist that video games are good and useful for children, both girls and boys. We will hear from other scholars who have found that video games disengage kids from the real world, scholars who believe that the harm video games do in terms of motivation and violent behavior far outweigh any cognitive benefit. In chapter 4, I talk at length about the growing tendency to prescribe medications such as Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta, Metadate, Focalin, Dexedrine, and other stimulants to children, particularly boys.
We will explore research suggesting that these medications may have adverse consequences that your doctor may not know about—adverse consequences not for cognitive function, but for motivation. The most serious cost of taking these medications may be a loss of drive. In chapter 6, we will begin to calculate the consequences of these four factors—not only in terms of academic achievement, but also in parameters that are harder to quantify: parameters such as pursuing a real-world goal or sustaining a romantic relationship. I will also recommend some relevant strategies at various points throughout each chapter.
Girls have problems too. I know just as many parents who are concerned about their daughters as I know parents who are concerned about their sons. But the problems are different. But she said we were totally clueless. Why do you hate me?! But something happened at the start of eighth grade.
Cruel things. I hear her crying at night into her pillow and it breaks my heart, it really does. She looks beautiful just the way she is: five feet four, pounds, size four or size six depending on the label. Everybody says what a pretty girl she is. Just different. This book is about the boys—and the five factors driving their growing apathy and lack of motivation. But at your first conference with his kindergarten teacher, the teacher tells you that your son is fidgety and has trouble sitting still.
She suggests that you may want to have him tested for ADHD. We all knew he could do better. He was such a smart boy. Just like your son. The pediatrician suggested Adderall. It was like night and day. He became a really excellent student. Every child is different, we understand that. In the play group, he could run around, jump up and down, play with blocks, without distracting the other children.
My son is not a slow learner. Sounds nice. Pastor Fulghum was drawing on recollections of his own kindergarten experience in —43 along with the kindergarten experiences of his four children in the s and early s. They learn to read and write. Kindergarten has become first grade. In , the kindergarten curriculum at most North American schools, both public and private, looks very much like the first-grade curriculum of In , a distinguished team of twelve neuroscientists, based primarily at the National Institute of Mental Health NIMH in Bethesda, Maryland, published a remarkable account of the development of the human brain.
Since the early s, these investigators have been doing MRI scans on the brains of young children. These scientists are watching the brain develop. The same children return to the laboratory every year or two to be scanned.
This remarkable study is the only major ongoing project to document how the brain develops in a particular child over a period of many years. Some of the participants have been in the study for as long as twelve years. Among the most striking findings in the report are the differences in the developmental trajectories of girls compared with boys. The researchers found that the various regions of the brain develop in a different sequence and tempo in girls compared with boys. In yet other regions, such as occipital gray matter—visual cortex—the trajectories of brain development are remarkably different, with no overlap between girls and boys.
In this region of the brain, girls between six and ten years of age show rapid development, while boys in the same age group do not.
Classification of Texts from Project Gutenberg
After fourteen years of age, this area begins to diminish slightly in girls—the amount of brain tissue in this region actually shrinks in girls over fourteen—while in boys over fourteen this area is growing at a rapid pace. It just means that girls and boys are different. Differences do not imply an order of rank. The findings of the group at NIMH were not completely unexpected. Previous studies had already shown that the various regions of the brain develop in a different sequence and tempo in girls compared with boys.
Indeed, studies using functional rather than anatomical parameters have suggested that sex differences in the pace of brain development may be even greater than those suggested by the NIMH study. Trying to teach five-year-old boys to learn to read and write may be just as inappropriate as it would be to try to teach three-year-old girls to read and write.
Timing is everything, in education as in many other fields. In the typical kindergarten you will often find that the teacher has divided the children into two groups. Over here, with the teacher, are the kids who are ready to learn to read and write: mostly girls, one or two boys. Over there, on the other side of the room, are the other kids: the kids whom the teacher has correctly recognized are not ready to learn to read and write. That group is mostly boys, with one or two girls. Mom gets on the job. She gets permission to visit the kindergarten.
The teacher is friendly and encouraging to all the students. In fact she seems genuinely fond of Brett. We understand that. So we let Brett play in the play corner with the other boys. But most five-year-olds are keenly aware of their status in the eyes of the adults. A boy whom the teacher has relegated to the Play Group a. He knows that the teacher was responsible for that choice. Professor Deborah Stipek, dean of the school of education at Stanford University, has found that kids form opinions about school early.
Do you think the teacher likes you? I hate school. And that teacher hates me.
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And he means it. Return four years later and ask him the same questions. Brett is now nine years old. And all the teachers hate me. Except for Mr. Kitzmiller, the gym teacher. On the international test most widely administered around the world, the United States ranks at 25, well below countries whose per-pupil spending on education is much lower, such as Hungary 23 , Poland 21 , the Czech Republic 15 and Finland 1. In the latest round of testing, for example, the average fifteen-year-old in Finland scored in reading; fifteen-year-old American students taking the same examination scored In problem solving, the average Finnish teenager scored , while the average American teenager scored a dismal If kids start school two years later and are taught material when they are developmentally prepared to learn, kids are less likely to hate school.
If kids do hate school, as many American boys do, then the teacher is starting out with a major handicap before even stepping into the classroom. In fact, it may mean that you do it less well in the long run. But schools have changed in other ways as well. The first question we will try to answer is why the acceleration of the early elementary curriculum might affect boys differently from the way it affects most girls. As a result, most five-year-old girls are better able to adapt to the rigorous academic character of kindergarten than five-year-old boys are.
Many five-year-old girls are able to do what the kindergarten teacher wants them to do. They can sit still. They can be quiet for a few whole minutes without interrupting or jumping up and down. They are more likely to possess the fine motor skills required to write the letters of the alphabet legibly and neatly. Girls and boys differ in terms of their desire to please the teacher. Most girls are at least somewhat motivated to please the teacher. It was the first day of school.
She was greeting her homeroom students for the first time. My name is Ms. One of the boys, Jonathan, took the small stack of textbooks from his desk and dumped them on the linoleum floor, making a loud noise. Some of the boys giggled. Jackson turned, startled. But Emily, the girl sitting next to Jonathan, was not amused. Three anthropologists—Elizabeth Lonsdorf, Lynn Eberly, and Anne Pusey—spent four years watching chimpanzees in their natural habitat in the wild.
These chimpanzees have their own particular way of doing things. Adult chimps break a branch off a tree, cut the branch to the desired length, strip the leaves off the branch, stick the branch down into a termite mound, wait a minute or two, and then carefully pull the stick back out for a yummy snack of fresh termites.
Lonsdorf, Eberly, and Pusey found consistent sex differences in how young female and young male chimps learn from their elders. Girl chimps pay close attention to the adult usually a parent who is showing them the procedure. Girl chimps then do just what the adult showed them: she breaks off a branch, cuts it to the same length as the adult had done, strips the leaves as the adult had done, and so forth.
But the young males ignore the grown-ups; they prefer to run off and wrestle with other young male chimps, or to swing from trees. I still encounter people who insist that most of the sex differences we observe between girls and boys are not hardwired. Instead, they insist that girls and boys behave differently because our society expects them to.
We expect boys to be noisy and to throw things, while we expect girls to behave like little ladies. Or so the story goes. But we do. Juvenile female chimps and juvenile male chimps learn and play in dramatically different ways, despite the fact that the girl chimps have never played with a Barbie, and the boy chimps have never played with toy guns. As a human male, I share many genes with a male chimpanzee that I do not share with any human female.
But in certain specific ways—for example, in the way I see, hear, and smell—I may actually have more in common with a male chimpanzee than I have with a human female. The entire order of primates is characterized by profound sex differences, and those sex differences are fairly well conserved across the order. Girls are more likely to affiliate with the adults. They are more likely to share common aims and values with the grown-ups.
Boys and young men, on the other hand, are less likely to be sympathetic to adult aims and values and are more inclined to engage in delinquent behaviors such as smashing mailboxes, street racing, mooning police officers, among others, than girls are. A girl who smashes mailboxes just for the fun of it is unlikely to raise her status in the eyes of most of the other girls. Girls are more likely to listen to what the grown-ups are saying, and to do what the grown-ups ask, particularly if there are no boys around.
If boys are around, some girls become more likely to misbehave, perhaps because they perceive that disrespecting the adults will raise your status in the eyes of at least some of the boys. In one study, investigators examined twenty cases where students were plotting a school shooting but the plan was detected and stopped before any violence occurred.
In eighteen of those twenty incidents, girls—not boys—alerted school officials or other adults to the plot. All the potential shooters were boys. When Mom needs to forage, she leaves her baby with her daughter, never her son. Women are more likely to take their medication the way the doctor prescribed; men are less likely to comply, and men are less likely to go to the doctor in the first place. Most girls and most women are comfortable asking for directions if they get lost; many boys, and many men, would rather wander for hours than stop and ask for directions.
Among primates generally, females are more likely to live near their parents after they are fully grown up, while the males are more likely to move away. Among the muriqui—also known as the woolly spider monkey—many young females leave the troop at puberty, while most of the young males stay with the troop into which they were born, for life.
But the muriqui today are found only in a few isolated forest tracts along the Atlantic coast of southeastern Brazil. The latest estimate of the total number of living muriqui is less than five hundred, and the number is dwindling rapidly as coastal Brazil is deforested. Primate females appear to have some built-in tendency to do what the grown-ups ask them to do, to try to please the grown-ups, to adapt to the grown-up culture. Young girls are more likely than young boys are to pay attention to what the grown-ups say, to follow the rules, to care about what the grown-ups think.
Likewise, researchers have found that little girls are significantly more likely than little boys to stay close to Mommy and to do what Mommy says. Girls will do the homework because the teacher asked them to. Researchers have consistently found that girls are significantly more likely than boys to do the assigned homework,25 in every subject. Boys are less likely to care what the teacher thinks of their work. That divergence leads to an enduring paradox: at every age, girls do better in school, but are less satisfied with their achievements, compared with the boys.
But unfortunately this acceleration is not the only major change in education over the past thirty years. Education has changed in two other substantial ways that have exacerbated gender differences. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil In English, the verb to know can have two very different meanings, reflecting two different kinds of knowledge.
Consider these two sentences: I know Sarah. I know pediatrics. As a result, English speakers may not fully appreciate just how different these two meanings are. My knowledge of my daughter Sarah is very different from my knowledge of pediatrics, even though Sarah is a little girl. My knowledge of Sarah is experiential knowledge. I know that Sarah likes to be rocked side-to-side but not front-to-back. In biblical Hebrew, the word know refers primarily to experiential learning.
They are forbidden the experience of evil. Most European languages use two different words for these two kinds of knowledge. In Spanish, to know as in knowing a person is conocer; to know in the sense of book learning is saber. I know chemistry. Ich weiss um Chimie. There is a fundamental belief running through all European pedagogy that both Wissenschaft and Kenntnis are valuable, and that the two ways of knowing must be balanced. The teacher divided the children into pairs.
One child in each pair blindfolded the other. Some children even licked it. Next the child was spun around and led away from the tree, at least ten paces in a different direction. Then the blindfold was removed and the child was asked: Which tree were you just feeling? Such an experience would be rare for American schoolchildren today.
American students may occasionally go on field trips, but the trips are almost invariably didactic in tone. Pupils learn the difference, say, between an oak leaf and a maple leaf. American education, today more than ever before, is characterized by a serious lack of understanding of, and respect for, Kenntnis. When I smiled perhaps somewhat patronizingly at the children feeling and sniffing their trees, the teacher frowned at me. She insisted on blindfolding me herself and leading me to a tree, and having me touch it and smell it without being able to see it.
It was an unfamiliar, exhilarating experience. There is more than fifty years of research on the importance, for child development, of multisensory interaction with the real world. Kids need to experience the real world. Only in the past decade have developmental psychologists come to recognize that a curriculum that emphasizes Wissenschaft at the expense of Kenntnis may produce a syndrome analogous to the neglected child.
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They have plenty of Wissenschaft but not a trace of Kenntnis. For boys in particular, emphasizing Wissenschaft while ignoring Kenntnis may seriously impair development—not cognitive development but the development of a lively and passionate curiosity. The symptoms? Tunneled senses, and feelings of isolation and containment.
That which cannot be Googled does not count. Louv quotes Frank Wilson, professor of neurology at Stanford, who says that parents have been deceived about the value of computer-based experience for their children. Wilson says that medical school instructors are having more difficulty teaching medical students how the heart works as a pump, because these students have so little real-world experience.
For a whole generation of kids, direct experiences in the backyard, in the tool shed, in the fields and woods, has been replaced by indirect learning, through [computers]. Each is important. Imagine that my baby daughter, Sarah, is crying. Berry Brazelton himself, has just walked into the room. If I hand Sarah to Dr. Brazelton, how effective will he be in calming her down? Probably not very effective. That principle generally holds true in the real world, I have found, at least as far as the practice of medicine and of psychology is concerned. Book learning is essential.
For example, Louv cites a Swedish study in which researchers compared children in two different day-care facilities. One facility was surrounded by tall buildings, with a brick pathway. The other was set in an orchard surrounded by woods and was adjacent to an overgrown garden; at this facility, children were encouraged to play outdoors in all kinds of weather. Boys are at least three times as likely to be treated for ADHD compared with girls, and the rates of diagnosis of ADHD for both girls and boys have soared over the past two decades.
The mental-health benefit of getting your hands dirty is not a particularly new insight. As Louv observes, Dr. But if girls are deprived of that balance, if girls are saddled with a curriculum like ours today, all Wissenschaft and no Kenntnis, they will still do the homework—because for girls, as we discussed a moment ago, pleasing the teacher is a significant reward for its own sake.
Not so for most boys. If boys are deprived of that balance between Wissenschaft and Kenntnis, they may simply disengage from school. If you ask a boy to read about the life cycle of a tadpole metamorphosing into a frog, but that boy has never touched a frog, never had the experience of jumping around in a stream in his bare feet chasing after a tadpole, he may not see the point. How could such a change happen? How could the intelligent, welleducated people who write school curricula push the school format into such an unhealthy imbalance?
The answer is simple: computers. Or to put the question another way: Will we someday—someday soon, perhaps—have robots that are able to simulate humans—simulate human behavior, maybe even feel emotions? The entertainment industry offers us a continual diet of movies like I, Robot and Bicentennial Man, and TV shows like Star Trek: The Next Generation that portray robots always played by human actors that are indistinguishable from humans. Like the search for peace in the Middle East, or for a selfsustaining fusion reactor, the goal that we were once assured was nearly within grasp keeps receding further into the distance.
Today, the idea of a fully mechanical device that can actually experience human emotions—and not merely simulate such an experience—seems more distant than it did thirty years ago. I enrolled in the PhD program in psychology at the University of Pennsylvania in The period from the late s through the late s was the era when cognitive psychology ruled supreme. Cognitive psychology is that branch of psychology that focuses on how we process information. For those two decades, roughly through , cognitive psychologists were optimistic that their approach was the best way to understand human learning, development, and behavior.
Throughout that period, cognitive psychologists insisted that everything we do, everything we are, can be represented formally as a computational process and therefore could theoretically be transposed to any computational device, i. Humans are just complex computers—or so the story went. The mind itself is a sort of computer program running on a very sophisticated computer made of neurons instead of microchips.
This way of thinking about the human mind, and human learning, continues to be influential among educators. If humans are sophisticated computers, and learning is in some way equivalent to programming that computer, then teachers are in some sense merely computer programmers. The s and s saw the widespread adoption of programs such as Direct Instruction, in which teachers were expected essentially to read from a script for an entire class, with students answering questions in unison and by rote.
If the script is written correctly, and the teachers do as they are told, then good results are inevitable. It turns out that a great deal was missing from the cognitivist perspective. This is not the place for a thorough critique of the arid cognitivism of the s and s. But for our purposes the most obvious and key deficiency of the cognitivist point of view was its failure to grasp the primacy of motivation and emotion.
It will do what you tell it to do.
See a Problem?
But children do. The first thing that happens when you ask kids to do stuff they have no interest in doing is they stop paying attention. Twenty-five years ago, attention deficit disorder was a relatively rare condition, with an incidence estimated at less than one child in one hundred. For white boys in affluent suburbs, the odds of being diagnosed with ADHD at some point in childhood may be as high as one in three.
In one suburb, more than half of the boys were being treated with medications for ADHD. Many of those boys who are being prescribed drugs may not need drugs. What they need first, is a curriculum that is developmentally appropriate; and second, teachers who know how to teach boys.
The second thing that happens when you ask kids to do stuff they have no interest in doing is they get annoyed. They get irritable. They withdraw. Reading is uncool. Caring about school becomes uncool. Being interested in learning becomes uncool. If children are not motivated to learn, they may stop paying attention. Computers are all about Wissenschaft. But real children do—especially boys. Mathews wanted my opinion of a study that had just been released by an obscure nonprofit group calling itself Education Sector.
The answer is not so simple. Something strange has been happening with American boys over the past two decades: The reading and writing scores of fourth-grade American boys have improved somewhat, which has actually narrowed the gender gap separating them from girls. But during the same period of time, the reading and writing scores of twelfth-grade American boys have dropped.
How could it be the case that fourth-grade boys are doing better, while twelfth-grade boys are doing worse? How does better become worse? This riddle is not hard to solve when you think about what we expect from fourth-graders compared with what we expect from twelfthgraders. Do they have some basic vocabulary? In the past twenty years, there has been increased emphasis on mastering the basics of reading.
Elementary school students have also been drilled in specific test-taking skills in ways that would not have been imaginable twenty or thirty years ago. The drilling begins at an earlier age and lasts longer. As a result, elementary school students— both girls and boys—are doing somewhat better than they were twenty or thirty years ago, and the gender gap has narrowed somewhat. Only the loss of the foaming run. Yet, deep in the soul the sea reflects In the light of questing, seeking thoughts The cause of its wonderful objects The gale, the calm, the loneliness wrought.
All is still; there is no when, or how-- Only the presence of the now. The day drifts on, and at evening fall Golden painted clouds drift idly by: The sea lies still; and over it all The awe of silence reigns far and nigh. Patient we must be, whole darkness hides The ship and our fate on the still tides. Not all of the poems are in a serious vein though. Written at the top of the torn sheet is, "This poem Miss Bradley had readen [sic] on the bottle when the skiff was launched this summer after she had painted it.
Scraps of paper seem to be a common way of capturing a fleeting poetic thought. Here's one from the Walter W. There's no author attributed, so it can't be said of Taylor was the author or not. Fox Smith and changed the words to make it more personal. This is just a sampling of the rare and unique items that can be found in our historical document collections.
To make an appointment to see any of these, or to request further information, please contact us. PST during weekdays and we will respond to all messages within two business days. Explore This Park. Info Alerts Maps Calendar Reserve. Alerts In Effect Dismiss. Poetry in Ocean. To support their good work, tredition donates a portion of the proceeds from each sold copy. Read more Read less. No customer reviews. Share your thoughts with other customers.
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