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No winners in the 'war on boys'

May 20, 2013 - By Randy Tucker

Nearly 25 centuries ago the Greek historian Thucydides described the three main forces that drive human nature. Thucydides listed mankind's motivations as fear, self-interest and honor. To the ancient Greeks these were known as phobos, kerdos and doxa.

Hans Morgenthau, a pre-eminent political scientist of the 20th century, took the concept a bit further. "To improve the world," Morgenthau said. "One must work with these forces, not against them."

I would add a baser rationale to many human activities. While fear, self-interest and honor have their place, a growing number of people find revenge as their primary motivation.

The concept of "fight" or "flight" provides an even more simplistic view of basic human nature.

We live in a time where the obvious is vehemently denied while the frivolous is actively portrayed as reality. No area suffers more from this demented delusion than the pseudo-academic realm.

Your local school district spends a lot of time, effort and money defending trends, ideas and concepts that should have disappeared generations ago. Nowhere is that more true than in gender-based assumptions.

This won't be popular with many people and will be viewed as reprehensible by those who profit from the continuing war on boys in public education, but the truth is that our cherished public educational institutions are growing more militantly anti-male with each passing generation.

This should be glaringly obvious to anyone familiar with the intellectual ailments now infecting an entire generation of boys. A full 80 percent of America's 3.7 million teachers are women. The numbers in elementary schools are even more slanted, with many schools reporting a 100 percent female faculty and administration.

Have you ever asked a little boy who his favorite person at school is? You might be amazed by how many quickly answer that the custodian is his friend. In many schools the only male role model on campus is the custodian.

Many elementary schools have part-time male faculty with men filling in most often as physical education or music teachers. You don't find a lot of guys at the elementary level, but when you do they are almost always exemplary teachers. They have to be, just to survive.

As education has become a career dominated by women, fewer men enter the field. Those who do often are eager to coach athletics and choose an education degree with emphasis most often in math, science, vocational education or history.

Again, the system fails young men. Teacher terminations are predominantly male in the first three years of a fledgling teaching career.

It seems to be much easier to send a young man down the road than it is a young woman. Perhaps it's the stigma of sexual discrimination that overly protects young female teachers, just like the misguided image that young girls don't get a fair shake educationally when the overwhelming evidence is exactly the opposite. It may have been the case two generations ago, but no longer.

Two young men come to mind this spring. One took an inexperienced team to the state basketball championship and nearly won the upset but upon returning home was informed that he would no longer be teaching or coaching. His crime was clearly pointed out to him by a parent in a store parking lot: "Sure you won, but you did it by playing the wrong kids."

Another coach, this time on the football field took a team that should have lost every game and won two while losing six. He was close in two more in spite of having very limited talent and very young players.

As my friend Harold Bailey used to quip, "You don't win the Kentucky Derby with a plow horse."

This young coach worked miracles with these boys. They were disciplined, his game plans were solid and the execution on the field was exemplary. He lost his job anyway just as the basketball coach a few miles to the north did. Both young men will be leaving the Big Horn Basin this summer and may never return to education.

Boys have much higher suicide rates, are constantly pumped full of drugs to curb their more aggressive and physical behavior, drop out of school more often, and have grade point averages a full point lower than girls do.

Colleges now report a 60 percent female undergraduate population. Young women graduate at a much higher rate at the university level, with much higher grade-point averages as well.

When was the last time you heard of a "take your son to work" day? How about "men in science" or "men in math" day at your local college? You don't and you won't as long as the war on boys continues in the hallowed halls of American education.

When did having a Y chromosome become a debilitating condition? No one in authority will admit it, but we are losing an entire generation of young men. The future for boys looks bleak.

Perhaps Thucydides was right. When self interest replaces rational thought, and fear drives out truth, there is no honor, only vengeance.

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