The Boys are Alright

By Rebeldad Brian Reid

Former Postie David Von Drehle has the cover story in this week's Time, writing about the "Myth About Boys." It's well worth the read, even at 4,000+ words, for the way in which it cuts through all of the breathless warnings about how boys today are a bunch of video game-obsessed, super-medicated, borderline illiterate thugs-in-waiting.

As it turns out, the stats suggest that Von Drehle's generation was far more screwed up (and that I came of age during a golden age of teen delinquency).

But what was really interesting, from a balance point of view, was Von Drehle's attempt to explain why boys might be doing marginally better:


Maybe our boys are doing better because we're paying them more attention. We're providing for them better; the proportion of children living in poverty is down roughly 2% from a spike in 1993. And we're giving them more time. Parents--both fathers and mothers--are reordering their priorities to focus on caring for their kids. Several studies confirm this. Sociologists at the University of Michigan have tracked a sharp increase in the amount of time men spend with their children since the 1970s. Another long-range survey, reported by University of Maryland researchers, has asked parents since the 1960s to keep detailed diaries of their daily activities. In 1965 child-focused care occupied about 13 hours per week, the vast majority of it done by moms. By 1985 that had dropped to 11 hours per week as moms entered the workforce. The 2005 study found parents spending 20 hours a week focused on their kids--by far the highest number in the history of the survey. Both moms and dads had dramatically shifted their energies toward their kids.

It's worth noting that this increase in time spent with the kids hasn't come at the expense of hours in the paid workforce. This isn't an at-home parent versus go-to-work parent thing.

Von Drehle notes that you can certainly go too far when it comes to parenting, but his fundamental contention that more time equals better outcomes raises all kind of interesting possibilities for the future. I've always hoped that the boys of today -- who have probably seen more of their fathers than any post-industrial generation -- will grow up with more progressive notions of gender roles and play an even greater role in their families. Indeed, Gen Y seems to be headed that way.

Von Drehle suggests we have plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the next generation of boys. And if they turn out to be the most involved generation of fathers to boot, we'll have even more reason to celebrate.

Brian Reid writes about parenting and work-family balance. You can read his blog at rebeldad.com.

By Brian Reid |  August 2, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Dads , Raising Great Kids
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First! I'd add that both sons and daughters benefit from getting to spend time with fathers as well as mothers, and extended family wherever possible.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 2, 2007 7:23 AM

Hi: Armchair mom here.

I enjoyed the article as well -- but I wondered about the fact that he didn't address those statistics about how boys are more likely to be put on ritalin and other medications to "manage their behavior."

As much as I hate anecdotal evidence, I have to mention that our son was diagnosed as hyperactive (and we were urged to medicate him) while living in Northern VIrginia. Since then, we've moved farther south to a district that has daily PE as well as outdoor recess and the opportunity to walk/bike to school and lots of safe places to play outdoors after school-- and all of a sudden, our child doesn't require "behavior management" anymore.

It saddens me to think of all the kids (boys, particularly) who end up medicated when some of them might just require more physical activity then they are currently getting.

Posted by: justlurking | August 2, 2007 7:38 AM

Armchair mom (justlurking), this reminds me of an old family anecdote about an elderly relative of DH's, whose standard discipline for his children when they got too frisky was to order them outdoors to run around the perimeter of the house ten times before they were allowed to come back in. He also did this with my husband when he visited as a child.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 2, 2007 7:50 AM

Bom dia (ou boa tarde, em Portugal), mãe portuguesa! Tudo bem? Tudo bom! Espero que logo possa se ligar à registração deste blogue.

catlady = mehitabel (nome duma gatinha fictícia)

Posted by: mehitabel | August 2, 2007 7:57 AM

I think they will be alright now that this generation of boys is being raised by men and many women who realize that trying to turn their boys into girls is crazy. The Alan Alda man may be the feminist pinup but that type of role model thankfully has been tossed aside. Boys today are being taught that being a boy is a great thing and that you can be a boy and not be a pig also.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 2, 2007 8:12 AM

Hi, everyone! Signing in for the first time under the new rules. (olá, senhora dos gatos! Já estou registada)

"I've always hoped that the boys of today -- who have probably seen more of their fathers than any post-industrial generation -- will grow up with more progressive notions of gender roles and play an even greater role in their families."


Having been raised in a very conservative family as far as gender roles are concerned, I'm particularly sensitive to the issue. Unfortunately, in my generation (and in my particular background, since I live in a Mediterranean and fairly traditional country) I don't see as much change as I would like to. But I'm convinced that one of the keys to the expansion of "more progressive notions of gender roles" is the example we set and the way we bring our kids up.

I sometimes discuss it with my (now) 10 year old son, to whom I've explained that, although boys and girls are different in many ways, the chores they are assigned should not be gender-related; in a household, there are no "men's jobs" or "women's jobs".
Our little conversations on the subject started as early as he entered kindergarten and become self-conscious about liking to play with dolls (as well as cars, trucks, balls and several other toys). I told him it was absolutely ok: his father dressed him, bathed him, fed him as often as I did; I drove and took care of my car. I could tell he was relieved, but still decided to keep his playing habits out of the spotlight of his kindergarten friends - so we ended up talking about the right to privacy and the burden social stereotypes. It's amazing the way kids understand things you thought would be too complex for them to grasp when they somehow relate to the topic.

Posted by: portuguese-mother | August 2, 2007 8:29 AM

"I've always hoped that the boys of today -- who have probably seen more of their fathers than any post-industrial generation -- . . ."

By Brian Reid | August 2, 2007; 7:00 AM ET |

Bom dia, Rebeldad!

Is it that all "the boys of today . . . have probably seen more of their fathers," or is it that those boys of today whose fathers live in the same home with them are seeing more of their fathers than any post-industrial generation? This decade's rate of family breakup, while somewhat lower than the rates for the 1970s, 80s and 90s, is still much higher than the breakup rates in earlier post-industrial generations. There are so many divorces, after most of which the father sees his children only every other week-end. And there are so many never-married parents -- most of them mothers -- raising children. It's hard to believe that American boys in general are seeing more of their fathers than their predecessors in intact families did.

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | August 2, 2007 8:35 AM

Matt (and others), what do you think about the role of other male relatives, e.g., uncles, cousins and grandfathers, on boys (and girls)? When I was a child my father sometimes took me along when he went to visit his brothers, father or nephew, and they too influenced my perceptions of males as I was growing up. Even (or especially) in households without a father present, other male relatives can be important role models.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 2, 2007 8:40 AM

to MattInAberdeen:

Divorce doesn't have to equal boys losing touch with their dads.
In a lot of European countries (mine included) there's been an increase in shared custody that allows kids to grow up close to both parents - as it should be. And when families re-build themselves, stepfathers play an important role model as well.

Posted by: portuguese-mother | August 2, 2007 8:43 AM

portuguese-mother

"And when families re-build themselves, stepfathers play an important role model as well."

Kids in the blended families are at the same risks as kids in one parent homes.

Posted by: spike | August 2, 2007 8:49 AM

portugese-mother:

"And when families re-build themselves, stepfathers play an important role model as well."

Yes, and that's both good and bad.

I know of cases where the stepfather has been a strongly positive role model. I also know of cases where it's been disastrous.

My brother is a single father to two daughters because when their mother remarried the stepfather wanted nothing to do with them, and their mother chose the stepfather over her daughters.

My brother-in-law (DW's brother) is trying to get custody of his two daughters because their stepfather attempted to molest them and beat the crap out of one when she resisted - and the mother does NOT want to lose her new husband despite what he did to her daughters. The boys already spend most of their time with my BIL, anyway.

Yes, I know of cases where the families have made it all work out, by putting in a lot of effort. I've coached kids in soccer and basketball where the father and stepfather both came to the games and worked very hard to be consistent in their treatment of the kids. They wanted to show that people can get along.

It can work both ways.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 2, 2007 9:00 AM

You may be surprised at just how fluid families have been throughout the history of the U.S.

http://www.pobronson.com/factbook/

Posted by: maryland_mother | August 2, 2007 9:02 AM

Slightly off-topic: I find the use of code-words on this blog interesting. As the son, husband and now father of college English majors, I'm more in-tune to selected words that many others.

The words that got me this morning are "progressive" and "conservative". They're presented in a way that "progressive = good" and "conservative = bad" and I'm wondering why.

Consider Brian's statement: "I've always hoped that the boys of today -- who have probably seen more of their fathers than any post-industrial generation -- will grow up with more progressive notions of gender roles and play an even greater role in their families." Brian, what do you mean by "progressive" notions of roles? And why that word?

portugese_mother wrote "Having been raised in a very conservative family as far as gender roles are concerned,..." Why is it a "conservative" family, and why is that bad?

Probably the thing that really sparked my curiosity here was a recent trip to visit my sister in Louisiana. I rarely saw the word "progressive" there; it's "conservative = good" vs "liberal = bad". It made me realize that in Maryland/DC I rarely see the word "liberal"; it's "progressive" vs "conservative". The different connotations are interesting (to me, anyway).

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 2, 2007 9:11 AM

http://www.pobronson.com/factbook/pages/231.html

More specifically.

Posted by: maryland_mother | August 2, 2007 9:12 AM

People have always been people, right?

In 1905, Charities Magazine reported that desertions by husbands were responsible for ten percent of U.S. families who needed to turn to charities for financial aid. 34.

more than 30 percent of the applications filed in 1905 in order to commit children to New York City's Department of Charities - making the child a ward of the city - were due to their father's desertions. 35.

Posted by: maryland_mother | August 2, 2007 9:18 AM

Whew -- after 3 days of trying to get a MyPost ID that wasn't my e-mail address, I'm relieved to be back (let's just say technical assistance via e-mail is not high on the efficiency scale).

Anyway, Matt said, "It's hard to believe that American boys in general are seeing more of their fathers than their predecessors in intact families did." I disagree, for two reasons. First, at least in our family, my husband is there more than our dads were. Our dads -- and their dads before them -- were solely responsible for their family's economic support, so they had to do whatever the company wanted, regardless of the impact on the family. Both of our dads (and my Granddad before) traveled very extensively for work -- for about 2 years, my dad was gone M-F building a new plant in a different state. They didn't like it, but they did it because being a "good dad" meant being a good provider.

We don't have to deal with that. Because my husband and I both work, neither one of us has to bear the full load -- which gives us both the freedom to turn down those kinds of jobs. So, yes, I am gone more than my stepmom or Granny ever was, but the tradeoff is my husband is home more than our fathers or grandfathers were.

Second, there's also the "quality vs. quantity time" debate. Back in the 50s and 60s, things were much more adult-focused. Mom may have been around all the time, but she sure didn't spend it playing with the kids -- even in the 70s when I was a kid, it was don't let the door hit you in the butt on the way out, be home for dinner. And dad was the same way -- even when he was home, he'd read his paper, watch his games, etc. -- he was there, but he wasn't "there." I remember as a kid, the way to "bond" with my dad was to develop an interest in watching golf tournaments and eating popcorn -- or trying to learn his sports and hobbies (all of which I was completely incompetent at).

Now there seems to have been this generational shift, where so much more is about the kids. Frankly, I think it's gone too far in some cases. But regardless, I suspect that even if the amount of time dad spends with the kids hasn't changed, he's spending a lot more of that time showing an interest in them and interacting on their level. And I see the effect that has on my own kids: when dad gets down on the floor and plays with them, they just come alive. My daughter just spent the last week with my dad, and he's a different guy now -- took two weeks off work, spent hours every day swimming, playing games, teaching her how to fish, and boy, did she just eat up all that attention.

Posted by: laura33 | August 2, 2007 9:20 AM

MattInAberdeen: Fair point regarding the assumption of the intact family, but the American family is changing a hundred other ways, too, which make generalizations a necessary evil. If memory serves, there are two million single dads today -- an arrangement that was pretty rare in decades past. And given portuguese-mother's comments, I'm curious if kids of divorce today are more likely to see their fathers than years past. I'm betting that if you took all of those factors into account, we're *still* seeing the most involved generation of fathers in 150 years.

ArmyBrat: I mean "progressive" as "liberal," not as political shorthand. I've always hated people who quote the dictionary, but ... the American Heritage Dictionary has "liberal" (as an adjective) as "... not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas." That's exactly what I mean. I'm talking here about non-traditional gender roles.

(Brian Reid)

Posted by: rebeldad | August 2, 2007 9:23 AM

Army Brat

"As the son, husband and now father of college English majors, I'm more in-tune to selected words that many others."

Coulda fooled me. Don't you ever let up with the relatives' spiel?

Posted by: spike | August 2, 2007 9:24 AM

Laura, I think you missed Matt's point.

What he said was:
"Is it that all "the boys of today . . . have probably seen more of their fathers," or is it that those boys of today whose fathers live in the same home with them are seeing more of their fathers than any post-industrial generation?"

You've actually provided anecdotal evidence that agrees with him - you've shown that "boys of today whose fathers live in the same home with them are seeing more of their fathers..."

(And FWIW I also agree with that. My case is somewhat exceptional; my father was a career Army NCO and was gone for 13 months to Korea, for 14 months to VietNam, and for a month or two at a time many other times. So my kids clearly see way more of me than I saw of my father.)

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 2, 2007 9:25 AM

spike: No.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 2, 2007 9:28 AM

Hmmm, let's see: Someone's actually complaining about a poster discussing relatives on a blog about balancing work and FAMILY life. What's wrong with this picture?

Posted by: mehitabel | August 2, 2007 9:28 AM

The words that got me this morning are "progressive" and "conservative". They're presented in a way that "progressive = good" and "conservative = bad" and I'm wondering why.

Because this is ON BALANCE on the WAPO, silly rabbit! Where up is down and down is up. LOL

Posted by: pATRICK | August 2, 2007 9:35 AM

"Matt (and others), what do you think about the role of other male relatives, e.g., uncles, cousins and grandfathers, on boys (and girls)? When I was a child my father sometimes took me along when he went to visit his brothers, father or nephew, and they too influenced my perceptions of males as I was growing up."

Posted by: mehitabel | August 2, 2007 08:40 AM

This is a very good question. In 1990, a book came out called, "The Child Influencers: Restoring the Lost Art of Parenting," by Don Adams. Relatives are among the most influential of the child influencers. They are rôle models, meaning that they influence by example.

Children are part of an extended family. In our children's case, their extended family was quite small. One uncle living nearby in Aberdeen, another uncle on Long Island, and one living grandfather, Maxwell Slote '32L. The children undoubtedly learned from the example of these three men.

What did they learn? Get an education, so you'll know to recognize the Good and you'll know what your duty is so that you can do it. Find a line of work that will support a family. Look for a wife, always bearing in mind that you are looking for the future mother of your children. Don't have children before you are married. Be decent towards your wife and children; indeed, be decent towards everyone. Don't yell at or belittle your wife or children. Don't get drunk or high or stoned. Seek responsibility and take responsibility. Their uncles and the grandfather they knew provided good examples of how to live. Many times, I told them how the grandfather who died before they were born served his family, his country and his clients.

I believe that the influence of their uncles' and grandfathers' rôle models was enhanced by the fact that their immediate family did not participate in what we consider are the baleful aspects of today's American culture. Orioles and Wizards games? Organizational picnics? Community associations? Their father playing folk songs on the piano or guitar? Archie comics (that's Archie Andrews with a capital "A," not archie the friend da gatinha fictícia, mehitabel) and Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge? Sure! But when the TV picture tube failed shortly after our third child was born, we never repaired it. So our children grew up without the examples of Sex in the City and South Park. And the music we listened to in the house excluded the likes of 50 Cent's "In Da Club" (lyrics available through any search engine; I won't dirty this blog by printing them here). Childhood is the time one learns to tell the Good from the Bad, so you want good child influencers influencing your children to choose the Good.

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | August 2, 2007 9:36 AM

Saint Matt

"Many times, I told them how the grandfather who died before they were born served his family, his country and his clients"

No! A man of few words like you!

Posted by: spike | August 2, 2007 9:50 AM

I'll admit I didn't read the 4000 word article, but I wonder what the authors mean by "boys are doing better". Are they better off financially? Are they better off emotionally? Are they more tolerant? Are they (and so on)? And what exactly was wrong with boys in the past? To Brian Reid, maybe you could expand on this part?

I have two teenage boys, and I think they are great. But I also think my brothers are great, and my Dad. All different generations. I like the premise of this blog, but I don't understand the conclusions it offers...

Posted by: jjtwo | August 2, 2007 9:54 AM

Ok, Post ate my post, so apologize if this ends up being a double.

ArmyBrat -- you're right that I wasn't clear at all in my post. But it seemed to me that Matt was noting that the "value" to boys from involved dads is significantly offset by the fact that fewer dads are in the house every day -- so, in other words, is there really an overall benefit?

My point was that I'm not real sure that an "intact" family in the 1950s meant dad WAS physically present much more (and btw, my Granddad was career AF, so that's admittedly not a "normal" example either). I'm sure a lot were. But between work demands on dads back then, and better joint custody arrangements now, I'm not sure it's fair to assume that a higher divorce rate means that on average, kids now spend significantly less time with dad.

But even if there's a big difference in the time dad is physically present, it may be that it's better to have more time with a distracted dad vs. less time with one who is really focused on you. I don't know; I'm not a boy, and I don't have a fair comparison (my folks were divorced, so my dad was mostly gone AND distracted). My husband and dad and one uncle did just fine growing up with married parents with dad gone a lot and mostly distracted when there; but then again, another uncle and both of my half-brothers struggled in a similar situation. But just from watching my own kids with their dad and grandfathers, seeing how they come alive, I suspect that that kind of focused attention in the time they are together can make up for a lot. And personally, I think that's one of the best developments of the last 20 years -- recognizing the importance of dads as more than just wage-earners and disciplinarians.

Posted by: laura33 | August 2, 2007 10:01 AM

jjtwo, I'm with you. I didn't read the article because I don't have an hour to set aside, but I'd like to know the measureable aspects of boyhood they used cited in this article.

Army Brat, both my husband and I have English degrees, and my husband has a marketing one as well. So we're in tune to the use of those words. I personally don't think conservative is a bad word used in most contexts. I would call myself fiscally conservative. I do see the progressive and regressive conotations. I don't see why progressive is always better. In some cases, it's not.

BTW, "liberal" was used as a condescending term in yesterday's comments. Everyone's got their own meaning for those words because they are subjective.

Posted by: Meesh | August 2, 2007 10:01 AM

"I've always hoped that the boys of today -- who have probably seen more of their fathers than any post-industrial generation ..."

But from everything that I've read, this is just not true for minority (particularly African-American) children. More African-American children are now being born to single moms than ever before.

Posted by: bababooey666 | August 2, 2007 10:04 AM

History is fascinating stuff.

By 1903, the New York Foundling Hospital had been in operation 30 years: it had had to find homes for over 40,000 children, while in New York, the local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children took in as many as 15,000 children ("in many cases cruelty on the part of their own parents, in others on the part of those in whose custody the children have been left by parents unwilling or incompetent to take care of them.") in one year.

76 million
The U.S. population, in 1900

In 1916, an essayist in Harper's Monthly Magazine wrote on the "Break-up of the Family": "I do not think that the family will completely disappear nay more than scarlet-fever or the tax-collector. But certainly it will change in character, and its evolution already points towards its new form. The old-fashioned family sickened because it was a compulsory grouping. The wife cleaved unto her husband because he paid the bills; the children cleaved unto their parents be-cause they must cleave unto something. There was no chance of getting out, for there was nothing to get out to."

Posted by: maryland_mother | August 2, 2007 10:12 AM

Succinct

By Anon

There once was Matt from Aberdeen
Who thought his every word had quite a sheen
Terse was a course
That could never be first
From the keyboard of his machine

Posted by: anonthistime | August 2, 2007 10:14 AM

To ArmyBrat:

"Yes, I know of cases where the families have made it all work out, by putting in a lot of effort."
It does! (I remarried; both my husband and I have shared custody of kids from previous marriages plus a daughter together, which makes me mother of two and stepmother of another two. And it's not always easy getting along with "the other side" -as we nickname it...).
But you have to live up to the choices you make . If you divorce the person you married, you should be ready to put in a little sacrifice for your kids' sake. That's how I see it, and I'm aware it's a personal point of view because I was not involved in any kind of extreme situation and the decision to divorce was (kind of...) mutual.

"portugese_mother wrote "Having been raised in a very conservative family as far as gender roles are concerned,..." Why is it a "conservative" family, and why is that bad?"

Ok, I see your point ;)
Anyway: "conservative" because gender roles matched the (centuries-old?) tradition of the breadwinner-male vs. the housekeeper-child-rearing-female AND (I stress this) it was NOT what I consider to be a free choice (for instance, my mother dropped out of college under family pressure; my father didn't lift a finger at home and almost completely ignored me and my brothers without incurring in any kind of social disapproval; and so on).
Why this is "bad" goes without saying...

Posted by: portuguese-mother | August 2, 2007 10:26 AM

"Why this is "bad" goes without saying..."

Portuguese Mother,

Isn't it amazing to realize that it was it viewed as good, it was written about as a good thing? Brr.

"In 1928, a Harper's Monthly Magazine essayist wrote, ". . if we do look with uneasiness on the growing divorce rate and all that it may lead to, then, though, there is no panacea to cure it, two steps it will help us to regain the lost ground. First, married women should decide voluntarily to give up the independent bread-winning function wherever economically possible. With this goes the correspond-ing determination of men to assure wherever feasible a decent family income, the economic subordination of their wives, and the male authority which goes with it. Second, married women, should realize that their desire for unrestrained freedom is a direct cause of divorce in American, and a treason to their primary function as women, which is to keep the family intact and to carry on the race to higher and higher levels."

Posted by: maryland_mother | August 2, 2007 10:38 AM

Re: Metrics. The piece looks at crime rates, incarceration rates, use of alcohol and drugs (where the trend is all clear). He also looks at some educational data where the trends are less clear. And he examines stats on physical fitness, which are a disaster. But more on that another week.

Posted by: rebeldad | August 2, 2007 10:39 AM

Portuguese Mother, I would suggest there was an extreme form of conservatism in effect in your youth in Portugal, owing to the fascistic dictatorships of Salazar and his successor Caetano -- who was not overthrown until the Carnation Revolution of April 25, 1974. Likewise for Spain under Franco, for some four decades till his death the mid-1970s.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 2, 2007 10:45 AM

"I do see the progressive and regressive connotations. I don't see why progressive is always better. In some cases, it's not."

Posted by: Meesh | August 2, 2007 10:01 AM

If "progressive" were used in its original meaning, it would always mean "better." Why? Because "progressive" means "moving forward," and "forward" means "towards the good" -- no?

"Progress" means "stepping forward." So, the meaning of "progressive" ought to depend on which direction the speaker thinks is "forward," and that in turn depends on which destination the speaker considers desirable. For someone who thinks a world-wide Caliphate (R"L) is the desirable destination, the Taliban are "progressive."

"We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive."
-- C. S. Lewis

Yeah, Mr. Lewis, but you've been dead since November 22, 1963, and that ain't the way the word "progressive" is used in America today. Those who regard redistributionist socialism, sexual libertinism, Procrustean equality, and Western surrender to third-worldism as their desired destinations have appropriated the designation "progressive" for themselves. If I think that the desirable destination includes even deeper tax cuts than President George W. Bush '75 MBA has made so far, if I think that the "right road" is the Right road -- then I can't call myself "progressive" in today's America.

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | August 2, 2007 10:47 AM

test

Posted by: kattoo | August 2, 2007 10:48 AM

Matt, did you realize that Aldous Huxley also died on 22 November 1963?

Posted by: mehitabel | August 2, 2007 10:52 AM

maryland_mother:
I'm so glad I was born in 1970...

(BTW: my mother did go back to college when I was 7 and my brothers were aged 5 and 2 and made me -even back then! - very proud of her. She still works, today, while being the most sweet and devoted gradma)

Posted by: portuguese-mother | August 2, 2007 10:52 AM

Portuguese Mother, your mom sounds like one awesome Vovó -- tudo legal!!! Do you think the opportunity for her to return to college had anything to do with the reforms in the wake of Portugal's Carnation Revolution?

Posted by: mehitabel | August 2, 2007 10:57 AM

catlady:
Sure, the political situation in Portugal before 1974 did play an important role - and helped to give the word "conservative" a bad conotation...

Posted by: portuguese-mother | August 2, 2007 10:58 AM

Raising four boys is one surefire way to immerse yourself in how today's boys are perceived by society.

I will speak to one area in particular - public schools. I firmly believe that public school are (perhaps inadvertantly) not designed with boys in mind. Recess is a great example of this: once kids are in fourth grade, recess often diminishes to once a day (not including P.E.). So right when boys (and girls) are on the brink of major growth and maturation, their ability to expend the tremendous physical energy they feel is curtailed. As a result, the incidence of inappropriate classroom behavior (clowning around, standing rather than sitting, restlessness) skyrockets. And boys are targeted and guilty of this behavior much more frequently than girls. I can say without a shred of doubt that boys have a different manner of exhibiting physical energy than most girls, with lots of twitching, shifting in their seats, and generally distracting behavior. This leads to a rapid increase in annoyance from the teacher, understandably, and a rising sense on the child's part that he cannot determine exactly what he is doing wrong - just that he cannot sit still!

Then in middle school - when kids are anywhere from 10-14 - there is absolutely NO recess. P.E. is not every day. And folks are surprised when boys act up in the hallways, in the cafeteria, and during free time?

I suppose I can whittle this particular example down to this: if there is one trait all four of my boys share, it is tremendous physical energy, which is demonstrated in everything from their love of outdoor play and team sports, to the shoving and wrestling that occur on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis in our house. And I have watched two out of my four boys have their physical energy ignored and curtailed by the school systems (in three different states, so it is by no means specific to Stafford County, Virginia).
And without a doubt, when you have require kids who are dying to run around to sit still for hours at a time, you are going to see a rapid increase in negative classroom behavior, lack of attention, and general mischievousness that certainly LOOKS an awful lot like someone who "just cannot pay attention in class".

Just one opinion from a mother of four boys who are some of my favorite people in the world.

Posted by: KCBETH | August 2, 2007 11:01 AM

Tem toda a razão!

Posted by: mehitabel | August 2, 2007 11:02 AM

"Then in middle school - when kids are anywhere from 10-14 - there is absolutely NO recess"
Really? Does it mean they go through an entire morning or afternoon of classes without a couple of breaks to unwind?

Posted by: portuguese-mother | August 2, 2007 11:12 AM

KCBETH -- couldn't agree more. Have a daughter with exactly the same issue. Kindergarten teacher complained that she fidgets and won't sit still and plays with her hair and clothes, and asked if we had any suggestions to improve her behavior. And all I could think was, umm, duh, maybe scheduling the school day so she gets to play outside for more than 15 minutes?? I ended up getting her up at 5:45 AM to go for a run with me, just to take the edge off (but then, of course, you mess with sleep, which is equally important).

Posted by: laura33 | August 2, 2007 11:17 AM

Just one opinion from a mother of four boys who are some of my favorite people in the world.

I posted something similar a while back. Schools are designed to favor girls right now. Sitting quietely, following direction, not causing any trouble are favored by teachers, who are predominantly women. Then these teachers want to drug your boys into submission. Realizing that boys need to work all that energy off is a great start. When I coach and the boys get grab butt, we start running and then when we are done, I have their full attention.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 2, 2007 11:18 AM

My kids still have gym and recess. Recess disappears in high school, and then they join teams. Fortunately there are still rec league sports available through high school.

Posted by: maryland_mother | August 2, 2007 11:25 AM

KCBETH -- couldn't agree more. Have a daughter with exactly the same issue. Kindergarten teacher complained that she fidgets and won't sit still and plays with her hair and clothes, and asked if we had any suggestions to improve her behavior.

I am amending my post. Boys are the predominant group that are punished but certainly some girls will find it equally oppressive.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 2, 2007 11:26 AM

Yikes! Nobody's posted for a half hour. Either WaPo is having computer troubles again -- or pATRICK, did you take everyone else out for flan and leave me behind? *sobs softly*

Posted by: mehitabel | August 2, 2007 11:58 AM

Yikes! Nobody's posted for a half hour. Either WaPo is having computer troubles again -- or pATRICK, did you take everyone else out for flan and leave me behind? *sobs softly*

Nope, Flan just isn't the same without you, you know that. It is kind of sad to see 30 minutes pass and no post.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 2, 2007 12:04 PM

Ok, here is my post

pATRICK, I agree with your statment! Now, you just have to figure out which one!

BTW, FQOTD for yesterday was posted a few minutes ago!

Posted by: Fred | August 2, 2007 12:11 PM

As a nonparent and someone who has worked with older kids and girls mostly, at what age should boys be expected to sit quietly and pay attention for hours without lots of exercise?

Why are schools getting rid of recess and P.E.?

Posted by: Meesh | August 2, 2007 12:13 PM

"It is kind of sad to see 30 minutes pass and no post."
guess we were all taking a recess :)
(well, but it is past 5 pm this side of the world, gotta go get my DD. see you!)

Posted by: portuguese-mother | August 2, 2007 12:13 PM

Até amanhã, mãe portuguesa. Beijinhos para a sua caríssima filha!

Posted by: mehitabel | August 2, 2007 12:16 PM

Meesh,

(not being snotty here) but do we expect adults to to sit quietly and pay attention for hours? I certainly cannot sit quietly for hours on end.

I think the answer to your question is that (most) males do have boundless energy way past high school,

Posted by: Fred | August 2, 2007 12:18 PM

Meesh, schools are getting rid of recess and PE for the same reason that a lot of them are getting rid of music, arts and other "specials" - lack of time. They're spending much more time focusing on math, reading/writing, and science, and there are only so many hours in a school day. (And lengthening the school day is a non-starter, in general.)

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 2, 2007 12:22 PM

I don't mean this to be snarky (though I'm afraid it will sound that way), but isn't part of growing up for a child to develop the self-control to "sit quietly and pay attention," within age-appropriate bounds?

Posted by: mehitabel | August 2, 2007 12:28 PM

So boys are gradually becoming mor academicly successful as they get fatter and fatter?

I think we should add Twinkies, Pizza and Poptarts to the list of brain foods!

Meesh, the public schools are cutting recess and PE because studies have conclusively shown that excersize makes a person stupid. Works for me! Now I'm off to the gym...

Posted by: Lil_Husky | August 2, 2007 12:29 PM

Wow! 56 posts at 12:30 pm! Must be some kind of record!

Posted by: anonforthis | August 2, 2007 12:31 PM

To Lil_Husky: Au contraire, mon ami. "Mens sana in corpore sano" -- a sound mind in a sound body.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 2, 2007 12:35 PM

mehitabel, I guess that's what I'm asking. What are the age-appropriate bounds? I would certainly expect a high schooler to be able to sit quietly, especially because they get a break for lunch. So when do they get that ability?

Fred, I guess I'm a weirdo because I sit quietly for 8 hours every weekday. Maybe they've just broken my spirit ;)

Posted by: Meesh | August 2, 2007 12:53 PM

No, Meesh, no! "Wotthehell wotthehell theres life in the old girl yet"

Posted by: mehitabel | August 2, 2007 12:59 PM

Hmm... in fairfax county, gym is a required (daily) course through the 10th grade. I always assumed this was the case everywhere.

It does annoy me when people say that schools favor girls because of the focus on being quiet and passive. How insulting is this to girls? I

Posted by: floof | August 2, 2007 1:01 PM

mehitabel - RE: boys/girls being around males relatives - I say spending time with all extended family is good for both boys and girls. When I was little I sat outside with the men while they smoked cigars and shot the breeze rather then with the women in the kitchen and I loved listening to the sports banter and political arguements/discussions. Although in our family the women were the ones that knew the family histories/traditions so as I got older and more interested, I sat in on those discussions periodically.

Sitting around the dinner table and talking after the meal is still one of my favorite things to do, the one downside being that you tend to keep eating unless some grateful sole will pull themselves away to clear the table.

Posted by: cmac | August 2, 2007 1:01 PM

"I don't mean this to be snarky (though I'm afraid it will sound that way), but isn't part of growing up for a child to develop the self-control to "sit quietly and pay attention," within age-appropriate bounds?"

Mehitabel, you're absolutely right on this. I think the concern is two-fold. First, that the "age-appropriate bounds" have been defined based on what girls can do, and not boys. And more importantly, that schools really aren't driven by any scientifically-supported concept of what those "age-appropriate bounds" would be for either gender.

In a perfect world with unlimited time and funding, you'd start with what child development experts say about what kids can and should be expected to do at given ages, and you'd use that to build your curriculum and daily schedule, to make sure you're asking for age-appropriate behavior.

But instead, we've got an existing system, with limited funds, that is constantly being asked to squeeze more and more substantive learning into the same school day so the kids meet the state testing standards. Since they have no budget or mandate to change the system (hire more teachers, lengthen school day, etc), the only way they can do that is cut back on the stuff that isn't "necessary" -- which is, of course, defined as anything that does not directly involve time spent learning a subject covered on the exams. In short, since kids don't actually learn math on the playground, recess gets cut (even though blowing off steam on the playground IS necessary for kids to be able to sit still and learn when they ARE in class).

Yes, my girl needs to learn better self-control. But at the same time, 15-20 minutes a day running around outside is absolutely ridiculous for any 5-year-old.

Posted by: laura33 | August 2, 2007 1:06 PM

""I don't mean this to be snarky (though I'm afraid it will sound that way), but isn't part of growing up for a child to develop the self-control to "sit quietly and pay attention," within age-appropriate bounds?""

Yes, absolutely, but expecting a 6-10 year old to sit and pay attention for 7 hours is unreasonable for boys OR girls. Even adults take coffee breaks.

Posted by: floof | August 2, 2007 1:11 PM

BTW, FQOTD for yesterday was posted a few minutes ago!

Well what was it?

Posted by: pATRICK | August 2, 2007 1:16 PM

""I don't mean this to be snarky (though I'm afraid it will sound that way)"

Huh?

Posted by: anonforthis | August 2, 2007 1:16 PM

I'm just now chiming in....

If the finding of the article was that boys are doing as well or better than boys of earlier generations (in terms of delinquency, school, etc), WHY are we constantly hearing that boys are being left behind? It seems to me that there have been many articles in the newspaper and in popular magazines lately about how boys have been ignored and are suffering as a result. In actuality it appears maybe their outcomes are improving...

Is the media focus on the "problems" of boys simply a reaction against several decades of what many people have deemed "too much" focus on girls? What do you all think is the reason for the pessimistic outlook?

Posted by: flprofmom | August 2, 2007 1:21 PM

I read it fred, disregard. by the way was it -?


Nope, Flan just isn't the same without you, you know that. It is kind of sad to see 30 minutes pass and no post.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 2, 2007 1:25 PM

At the risk of sounding like one of those "walked five miles uphill each way to and from school barefoot in the snow" types, I've dredged my memory for how much recess and exercise was built into the elementary school day back in my kittenhood ;-) It was as follows:

Three 10-minute recesses starting at 10, 11 and 2.

Lunch split into two shifts during the noon-hour, affording 30 minutes of recess before or after eating.

Teachers (figuratively) prodded children being sedentary during recess to play energetically.

Unstructured play in the schoolyard for 15-20 minutes before school for students who arrived early. There was an after-school recreation program, although I never participated in it, but assume it included sports. Many of us who could, left the schoolgrounds ASAP at 3 ;-)

All students walked to/from the neighborhood elementary school unless physically handicapped (or their overly-protective parents drove them, which inevitably resulted in cruel teasing about being a baby).

PE class for three half-hours per week (alternated with art one day, music the other).

This adds up to over an hour of play at school per day. Maybe that's why some of us were able to settle down better in the classroom.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 2, 2007 1:26 PM

Ah, Meesh, you are just a tranquil young lady! My younger son can sit still for quite a while but my AF dau can still still for maybe 5 minutes at most!

I think that Laura sums up the problem well in her post of 1:06, particulary in her second paragraph. Kids do need to be kids not little robot adults.

pATRICK, you will have to look at yesterday's blog for yesterday's FQOTD.

Posted by: Fred | August 2, 2007 1:30 PM

"Matt, did you realize that Aldous Huxley also died on 22 November 1963?"

Isn't that also the day that JFK was assassinated? If there is an afterlife, that would make for an interesting gathering that day!

Posted by: cjbriggs | August 2, 2007 1:31 PM

"Sitting around the dinner table and talking after the meal is still one of my favorite things to do, the one downside being that you tend to keep eating unless some grateful sole will pull themselves away to clear the table."

Posted by: cmac | August 2, 2007 01:01 PM

This sounds similar to what James Bland recalled: In the evening by the moonlight, when the family's work was over, we would gather around the fire until the cooking was all done. Then we all would eat our supper; after that we'd clear the kitchen. That's the only time we had to spare, to have a little fun. Uncle Gabe would take the fiddle down, that hung upon the wall, while the silvery moon was shining clear and bright. How the old folks would enjoy it! They would sit all night and listen as we sang in the evening by the moonlight.

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | August 2, 2007 1:33 PM

Gaga granny in the nursing home has more life than this blog! Amazing how censorship can turn people off!

Posted by: anonforthis | August 2, 2007 1:34 PM

"in fairfax county, gym is a required (daily) course through the 10th grade."

That is correct, but the PE period gets replaced throughout the year by the Family Life Education program. (FLE, you know, where the kids are taught to be kind to homosexuals and strap comdoms on cucumbers)

Also, the PE classes have gone more academic too. Instead of excersize, typically the students will be doing stuff like taking test on the rules, regulation size of a badminton court and height of the net...

Posted by: Lil_Husky | August 2, 2007 1:35 PM

Yay, Fred: My first ride in the creepy van. O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

Posted by: mehitabel | August 2, 2007 1:38 PM

"Coult the "parenting" blog institute the same sign-in requirement as the "on balance" blog? "

Oh, yes, do. The "on balance" blog is ever so much better with the sign-in requirement. Postings have dropped and are dominated by a few people and cliques, soo high school. Just what the Founding Fathers had in mind."

This was posted on ON PARENTING, I hope what has happened post wise is temporary. I could easily see this happening.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 2, 2007 1:40 PM

mehitabel,

Not to be disrespectful but school has changed a lot. Attending a neighborhood school? Ha! There have been more than a few complaints posted here in the past about bussing past the neighborhood school. Recess is gone, lunchtime is a hurried affair as there are not enough seats in the cafeteria, and free time activities on the playground are greatly reduced due to the fear of liability and to be politically correct. (No more Red Rover, Red Rover come over!) I had some recess time when I attended school; my kids have had practically none.

Posted by: Fred | August 2, 2007 1:42 PM

Gaga granny in the nursing home has more life than this blog! Amazing how censorship can turn people off!


Be careful what you wish for, it may come true.......................

Posted by: pATRICK | August 2, 2007 1:47 PM

Fred, Do you think the time has come for reform of the present system that you describe? I was merely suggesting that more time in the school day devoted to exercise could reap rewards of greater attentiveness (and hence better learning) in the classroom.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 2, 2007 1:48 PM

Even thought the number of postings has decreased since the sign in requirement, for the most part, the quality has increased. On Monday, there were lots of posts (when registration was not necessary), but I found the blog virtually unreadable. In fact, I refused to participate in that disgusting discussion, which was comprised of nothing more than gratuitous insults and inflammatory statements. I prefer having fewer postings that are actually thoughtful, than having to wade through the muck we had before to find the few comments that were actually worth reading. Quantity does not equal quality.

Posted by: Emily | August 2, 2007 1:50 PM

«O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!»

«Posted by: mehitabel | August 2, 2007 01:38 PM»

Lieutenant Callay, the crusader who murdered innocent women, babies, old people at My Lai in Vietnam, why bring him here to darken On Balance?

Posted by: abu_ibrahim | August 2, 2007 1:55 PM

Posted by: Emily | August 2, 2007 01:50 PM

EMILY, while I agree with you in a way. A topic like breasts of course turned into a free for all. If you like bandying back and forth with the same people, who think just like you and being part of a clique like the anon poster wrote then fine. I think that if LESLIE actually moderated this blog, she could keep it lively and clean. But she seem to like to leave it on autopilot. Turning it into a 100 post sewing circle, would be a shame.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 2, 2007 1:57 PM

Damn, pATRICK, twice in a day I agree with you!

Posted by: Fred | August 2, 2007 1:59 PM

abu_ibrahim -- Google the phrase.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 2, 2007 2:00 PM

Damn, pATRICK, twice in a day I agree with you!

Did I guess right on the first time?

Posted by: pATRICK | August 2, 2007 2:00 PM

Emily

"I prefer having fewer postings that are actually thoughtful, than having to wade through the muck we had before to find the few comments that were actually worth reading."

Are the current postings thoughtful? They seem to be the rantings of the few who haven't dumped this blog or are boycotting various posters and/or censorship. Was this really Leslie's intent? Is what remains superior to the past? The current discussion is a rehash of many prior postings. Has there been a scintilla of a new point of view? Churn and burn.

It is remarkable how fast this blog has fallen. Destroyed by its own creator, who was pandering to the masses....

Darwinism takes its course...

Posted by: anonforthis | August 2, 2007 2:01 PM

Nominee for FQOTD, by Fred himself: "Damn, pATRICK, twice in a day I agree with you!"

Posted by: mehitabel | August 2, 2007 2:01 PM

Darwinism takes its course


I have to say this in all sincerity, I wish I could give you a noogie for using this phrase for EVERY one of your postings.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 2, 2007 2:05 PM

How would her moderating it prevent all the ugliness? People could still pollute the blog with pure nastiness if they were so inclined to. I think that the nasty anonymous trolls posted to the blog because it requires almost no effort to make a thoughtless and cruel comment when there is no accountability. The kind of viciousness I saw on Monday is part and parcel of the laziness that is encouraged when you have a blog where people are not accountable for their words. If you actually have to register and post under a name, it takes more time and effort and exhibits a willingness to contribute productively to a discussion. It is too bad some thoughtful anons will be excluded, but I think people who really want to participate will eventually take the time to register. And I won't miss the filth we had before.

Posted by: Emily | August 2, 2007 2:05 PM

EMILY, she does no work on this blog, that i see. Monitoring the blog and reviewing the blog, she could easily delete posts that violate the code SHE wrote for the blog. I emailed to her to remove the FU comment to me. I got a response TWO DAYS later. Big deal.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 2, 2007 2:11 PM

abu_ibrahim -- Google the phrase.

I'll save you the effort. It's from a poem. The Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll.

Posted by: rockvillemom | August 2, 2007 2:15 PM

I am completely with Emily on this one. The blog is much more readable. Many days I just follow along, learning from the insights of others. That is nearly impossible to do when 3-out-of-4 comments are just attacks.

I know there is the "just don't read those" school of thought, but when the trash outnumbers the useful posts, the blog useful conversations couldn't be followed without strapping yourself to the computer for the whole day (which nobody has time for).

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | August 2, 2007 2:15 PM

pATRICK

"Darwinism takes its course"


"I have to say this in all sincerity, I wish I could give you a noogie for using this phrase for EVERY one of your postings."

The Prince of Peace wouldn't like that.

Posted by: anonforthis | August 2, 2007 2:21 PM

These conversations remind me of high school history. We were supposed to write a thesis then defend it. Nearly half the class asked "can't we just answer the questions at the end of the chapter instead?" When you vote for the easy copout, you never really learn anything.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 2, 2007 2:23 PM

"EMILY, she does no work on this blog, that i see. Monitoring the blog and reviewing the blog, she could easily delete posts that violate the code SHE wrote for the blog."

Who has time to do that? What a ridiculous waste of time and energy to have to read every single post and actively delete the offensive ones, just because a few people have no sense of decency when it comes to posting comments. I think requiring registration is a much more efficient process for limiting the amount of garbage that gets posted. I like it the way it is. That's my vote.

Posted by: Emily | August 2, 2007 2:23 PM

The Prince of Peace wouldn't like that.

Now that was a good one!LOL.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 2, 2007 2:25 PM

Fred's Quote of the Day!
(No Additional Comment Necessary Division)

Patience, hell! You're supposed to be professionals at one of the nation's leading newspapers, so get it right.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 1, 2007 04:06 PM

Posted by: Fred | August 2, 2007 10:36 AM

Does this ring a bell EMILY? This is HER blog, she has written rules for it and it's too much to enforce them? Sheesh

Posted by: pATRICK | August 2, 2007 2:28 PM

The blog is much more readable

-Fred & Emily

Yeah, because there is really nothing to read.

A lot of the opposing viewpoints will disappear when the only people posting are the "regulars".

Posted by: daves000 | August 2, 2007 2:28 PM

Laura, it sounds like the state testing standards have gotten out of hand if they require more class time for kids now than kids ten years ago. Are the standards getting harder? Is this because of the stupid "No Child Left Behind" thing?

Do schools that don't have to aswer to that test standards (charter or parochial) still have those extra classes? I know my Catholic school did way back in the late 80s.

Posted by: Meesh | August 2, 2007 2:29 PM

"Does this ring a bell EMILY? This is HER blog..."

That's right, Patrick. This is her blog. And she is enforcing the standard of decency by making people be accountable. Perhaps you don't like her method, but since it's her blog, she can do as she likes.

Posted by: Emily | August 2, 2007 2:30 PM

I really don't care about the method, EMILY but the result. If it devolves to you and MN sharing stories all day or you and I bickering, it loses the thing that made it fun, putting out opinions and defending them. Right on DAVE, btw you really should go back to devil's advocate.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 2, 2007 2:34 PM

A little context: Yesterday's FQOTD was with reference to the massive ineffectiveness of the WaPo's computer support for this blog, which several chatters (including me) had noted was causing great difficulty in posting messages, well beyond the limits of reasonable blogger patience.

I concur with Emily that registration is a promising partial solution to Monday's debacle.

Likewise I agree with pATRICK that Leslie needs to be more hands-on if she wants her blog to survive in any sort of constructive way.

I propose that Emily, pATRICK and I now adjourn for some delicious flan. Your treat, right pATRICK?

Posted by: mehitabel | August 2, 2007 2:38 PM

I propose that Emily, pATRICK and I now adjourn for some delicious flan. Your treat, right pATRICK?

But of course milady.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 2, 2007 2:40 PM

All I can say is that the last few weeks, culminating with Monday's garbage fest, were neither interesting nor fun. This blog is not a moderated chat, nor was it meant to be. It does run on autopilot, and depends mostly on the posters, and less on the moderator. This is what makes it interesting to me. And if the only way to keep it decent is to make people register, then so be it. Because as it was before, I would have left, as you did previously. And then the only ones on the blog would be the harebrained trolls who just like to insult and inflame.

Posted by: Emily | August 2, 2007 2:41 PM

"Lieutenant Callay,..."

That would be Calley - William "Rusty" Calley.

And in one of those instances of having my father around and benefiting from it, my father was being court-martialed in Germany for disobeying an illegal order at the same time as Calley's trial. My father impressed upon me greatly the duty of all citizens to do what is right, regardless of what is popular or what the "leaders" say.

(Wow - an off-topic slam at abu_ibrahim and an other mention of a relative to tweak spike! An unassisted triple play!)

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 2, 2007 2:42 PM

Flan coming up, even for Patrick.

Posted by: Emily | August 2, 2007 2:43 PM

"A little context: Yesterday's FQOTD was with reference to the massive ineffectiveness of the WaPo's computer support for this blog"

Was that REALLY yesterday? It seems ages ago...

Posted by: anonforthis | August 2, 2007 2:43 PM

Because as it was before, I would have left, as you did previously. And then the only ones on the blog would be the harebrained trolls who just like to insult and inflame.


Now that I agree with. When can we eat the flan?;)

Posted by: pATRICK | August 2, 2007 2:44 PM

daves000, I would say that you're a regular, along with pATRICK. You guys always seem to have opposing viewpoints, so as long as you're both here we can avoid becoming a "sewing circle."

Emily, I agree with you that this column is more enjoyable without the snarks and crude anons. People still disagree (duh, it's a blog), but there are fewer personal attacks.

Posted by: Meesh | August 2, 2007 2:46 PM

The flan has been served, with a side of whipped cream and a glass of cognac. (Except for me, of course).

An extra big piece goes to Catlady, our resident diplomat and maker of the peace.
Cheers!!

Posted by: Emily | August 2, 2007 2:47 PM

I always think of that show HIGHLANDER where no one can fight on holy ground. Flan is our holy ground. :)

Posted by: pATRICK | August 2, 2007 2:49 PM

" And then the only ones on the blog would be the harebrained trolls who just like to insult and inflame."

These harebrain trolls made this one of the most popular WaPo blogs. Some people enjoy spirited discussion and the free flow of ideas. Some people can give as good as they get. Some people can park their egos at the door of the Net.

Posted by: anonforthis | August 2, 2007 2:49 PM

Getting back on topic: Brian made a comment about educational trends not being clear. I'm not sure I can support that.

(I had a 2-hour conference call, so I read the article. Talk about not being able to sit still paying attention for a long time. :-)

Consider the following quote:

""I think it would be an error not to be optimistic," says Michael Gurian, author of several books about raising boys. "But at the same time there is reason to worry." He sketches the sinking trajectory of undereducated males as blue-collar jobs move to low-wage countries. Though definitive data on the dropout rate are as elusive as Bigfoot, there's little question that a worrisome gap is opening between boys who finish high school and those who don't. Boys with diplomas are now far more likely to go immediately to college than the boys of my era were. Solution: we need more boys with diplomas.

And that can be done. A generation of enlightened teaching and robust encouragement has awakened American girls to the need for higher education. Women now outnumber men in college by a ratio of 4 to 3, and admissions officers at liberal-arts colleges are struggling to find enough males to keep their classes close to gender parity. "We've done wonderfully with girls. Now let's do the same for boys," says Gurian. One way to start might be to gear advanced training to male-dominated occupations--already the case in many female-oriented fields. Schoolteachers and librarians (roughly 70% female) must go to college, but firefighters and police officers (pushing 90% male)? Not necessarily. Top executive secretaries are college educated; top carpenters may not be."

I don't think this makes any sense. Carpentry is a fine and noble profession, but it doesn't require a college education. Why would you arbitrarily put a requirement for a degree on a field just so you can even out the number of males and females in colleges?

There are numerous examples of this throughout the article. And while Brian is correct in that the article notes some signs of improvement in the data, it also makes clear that real, substantial differences exist.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 2, 2007 2:55 PM

"These harebrain trolls made this one of the most popular WaPo blogs"

I disagree. I think this blog is interesting because of the thoughtful regulars and the thoughtful anons who posted and have been posting for a long time. The cruel insults and nasty commnets did not make the blog popular or interesting. In fact, I think that with time, if the blog had been allowed to run amuck in that direction, it would have died, because the discussion ended and the insults became an end in themselves. And no one wants to see a fight without context or meaning. Even Jerry Springer has some kind of context to it. The fighting on the blog was becoming meaningless cruelty, and the discussion was being lost in the muck.

Posted by: Emily | August 2, 2007 2:55 PM

WASHINGTON -- Illinois Sen. Barack Obama's Democratic presidential rivals slammed him Wednesday, calling it a sign of inexperience to suggest sending GIs to Pakistan to hunt down Al Qaeda terrorists, declaring that, "if President Musharraf won't act, we will."

I think this is the end for OBAMA. Not today or tomorrow but I think it will sink him just as Dean's scream ended it for him. Hillary will be the nominee and OBAMA the vp.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 2, 2007 2:58 PM

I will say we have not hear a certain few words here in a while.

Posted by: Fred | August 2, 2007 2:59 PM

daves000, I would say that you're a regular, along with pATRICK. You guys always seem to have opposing viewpoints, so as long as you're both here we can avoid becoming a "sewing circle."

Posted by: Meesh | August 2, 2007 02:46 PM

I know, but it gets tiring being the only one on one side of a discussion.

You all are smart and eloquent with your words, and once in a while I really appreciated the support the opposing viewpoint would get from the occasional passers by.

I also think Leslie purposely posted a blog about breasts knowing it would get out of hand to ease the transition to the new system. (what did she expect, calling for a cleavage march)

Posted by: daves000 | August 2, 2007 2:59 PM

DAVE, i thought about that too. I don't want to be the token conservative here either.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 2, 2007 3:01 PM

Daves000,
Yesterday, you declined to elaborate on how you think men are discriminated against because you were busy. Since this discussion is almost on topic, are you willing to revisit and explain yourself? If so, I am all ears.

Posted by: Emily | August 2, 2007 3:03 PM

I am going to take a nap after all that flan. Have a nice evening!

Posted by: pATRICK | August 2, 2007 3:04 PM

Emily

"In fact, I think that with time, if the blog had been allowed to run amuck in that direction, it would have died, because the discussion ended and the insults became an end in themselves."

18 months wasn't enough time for the blog to run AMOK. If you had been with the blog from the beginning, you would have noticed the ebb and flow of posters and postings. The blog has its own policing from the posters. When the blog gets really close to self-destruction, the posters retreat for a while. The weak and the bores are weeded out. Some posters regard pATRICK's "retirement" as a personal triumph!

His "comeback" has been less than stellar.

Posted by: anonforthis | August 2, 2007 3:07 PM

DAVE, i thought about that too. I don't want to be the token conservative here either.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 2, 2007 03:01 PM

The funny thing is I am not conservative. (I don't think I am anyways) And there is Matt.

The main thing you and I have in common is that we are male and look at things from that point of view.

Posted by: daves000 | August 2, 2007 3:08 PM

Thank you to ArmyBrat for trying to get the conversation back on the topic of the day!

A question though...

you said "and while Brian is correct in that the article notes some signs of improvement in the data, it also makes clear that real, substantial differences exist."

Real substantial differences between what groups? Do you mean that boys today are different than boys of the past? Or boys today are different than girls? The comparison group makes a big difference.

In terms of educational outcomes, more boys are going to college than ever before. We'd like to see still more of them go to college, perhaps, because a college education is more strongly tied to economic success than ever before. Yet, you can't say that we've gone backwards in terms of our boys' educational progress. It just happens that the gains that girls have made have been greater than the gains that boys have made. The only "problem" I see then is that girls are gaining faster than boys.

Posted by: flprofmom | August 2, 2007 3:11 PM

Anonforthis,
I have been on this blog from the very beginning (although I changed my name some months ago). So I have seen the ebb and flow. My opinion is that it was self-destructing recently, or at least degrading to a point where it was no longer interesting or useful. And I did see the regular posters retreat recently, but unfortunately, their absence was quickly filled by anons who provided no value. So the numbers posting were still high, while the quality was very poor.

Posted by: Emily | August 2, 2007 3:13 PM

"Thank you to ArmyBrat for trying to get the conversation back on the topic of the day!"

Why? If there is little or no interest in a topic, is there a law that says we must stick to the topic of the day?

Anyone is free to post their thoughts without brave ArmyBrat's help.

Posted by: anonforthis | August 2, 2007 3:16 PM

Re: Matt, Dave and pATRICK being conservatives....

Honestly I think theres a few more. Texas Dad and Arlington Dad were pretty conservative (where the heck are they?) Fo3 and Scarry struck me as slightly right of center.

Most of the rest of these folks I'd consider centrists.

The only raging lefties here really are Pittypat and maybe me, though mine manifests as more social than political.

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | August 2, 2007 3:16 PM

flprofmom, the primary comparison is boys today vs. girls today, although there are some comparisons of boys today vs. boys in the past.

In the article, von Drehle uses as his main source the "America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2007", a joint publication of a number of Federal agencies.

In addition to what Brian cited and what I quoted above, here are some other quotes from the article:

"It gathers a trove of data, and as I made my way through it, I concluded that there's real substance to the boy crisis, and there have been good-faith reasons for sounding an alarm."

"Statistics collected over two decades show an alarming decline in the performance of America's boys--in some respects, a virtual free fall. Boys were doing poorly in school, abusing drugs, committing violent crimes and engaging in promiscuous sex. Young males lost ground by many behavioral indicators at some point in the 1980s and '90s: sharp plunges on some scales, long erosions on others. I was forced to confront a fact that I had secretly known all along: that teens of 30 years ago--my generation--were the leading edge of an epidemic of thugs, dolts and cads."

"What about school? Boys in the fourth, eighth and 12th grades all score better--though not dramatically better--on math tests than did the comparable boys of 1990. Reading, however, is a problem. The standardized NAEP test, known as the nation's report card, indicates that by the senior year of high school, boys have fallen nearly 20 points behind their female peers. That's bad, not because girls are ahead but because too many boys are leaving school functionally illiterate. Pollack told me of one study that found even the sons of college-educated parents had a 1 in 4 chance of leaving school without becoming proficient readers. In an economy increasingly geared toward processing information, an inability to read becomes an inability to earn. "You have to be literate in today's world," says Sommers. "We're not going to get away with not teaching boys to read.""

"Women now outnumber men in college by a ratio of 4 to 3, and admissions officers at liberal-arts colleges are struggling to find enough males to keep their classes close to gender parity. "

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 2, 2007 3:20 PM

Why? If there is little or no interest in a topic, is there a law that says we must stick to the topic of the day?

Posted by: anonforthis | August 2, 2007 03:16 PM
___________

Forgive me for thinking that talking about a substantive topic might actually be more interesting than bickering back and forth about whether or not the blog has been interesting or frustrating! I think we need to get over it and move on to real discussion about a real issue!

Posted by: flprofmom | August 2, 2007 3:20 PM

flprofmom

"Forgive me for thinking that talking about a substantive topic might actually be more interesting than bickering back and forth about whether or not the blog has been interesting or frustrating! I think we need to get over it and move on to real discussion about a real issue!"

I anxiously await more cutting & pasting from wise ArmyBrat.

Posted by: anonforthis | August 2, 2007 3:23 PM

When the blog gets really close to self-destruction, the posters retreat for a while. The weak and the bores are weeded out. Some posters regard pATRICK's "retirement" as a personal triumph!

His "comeback" has been less than stellar.

I was leaving when i read this. I am not sure if this poster hates me, likes me, thinks i am a bore or maybe all of the above. As far as my "comeback", if you were expecting me to throw grenades every day, you will be disappointed.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 2, 2007 3:26 PM

"brave"? "wise?" You're making me blush, anonforthis. :-)

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 2, 2007 3:26 PM

ArmyBrat,
Thanks for the quotes. So, perhaps a good question to ask is "what have we been doing right to help improve the outcomes of girls over the past 30 years - and how can we learn from that lessons that we can apply to help our boys?"

I agree with you that the answer surely isn't to require college degrees for the jobs that are predominantly male dominated. That would simply limit the life chances of less-educated men even more than they are already. What other things could be done to help motivate and support boys throughout their schooling that would lead to better performance in high school and higher rates of college attendance?

Posted by: flprofmom | August 2, 2007 3:27 PM

Re: Matt, Dave and pATRICK being conservatives

-Proud Papa

I am NOT a conservative. I am more conservative than many on this blog, but I have never considered myself a conservative.

I am really curious, do most of you view me that way?

Posted by: daves000 | August 2, 2007 3:31 PM

daves000

"I am NOT a conservative. I am more conservative than many on this blog, but I have never considered myself a conservative.

I am really curious, do most of you view me that way?"

Please turn off the lights when you leave...

Posted by: anonforthis | August 2, 2007 3:35 PM

Patrick,
I think that anonforthis basically meant that many posters were glad you retired, and that your coming back has not elated them.

And after the way you acted a couple of days ago, I would have to agree that on occasion, your input is unpleasant. But I would rather have you on the blog, with a name, than a bunch of others that I can't identify and with whom discussion is useless. At least I can argue with you, even if it makes me mad occasionally. And at least I know what to expect from you.

Posted by: Emily | August 2, 2007 3:36 PM

"As much as I hate anecdotal evidence, I have to mention that our son was diagnosed as hyperactive (and we were urged to medicate him) while living in Northern VIrginia. Since then, we've moved farther south to a district that has daily PE as well as outdoor recess and the opportunity to walk/bike to school and lots of safe places to play outdoors after school-- and all of a sudden, our child doesn't require "behavior management" anymore.

It saddens me to think of all the kids (boys, particularly) who end up medicated when some of them might just require more physical activity then they are currently getting.

Posted by: justlurking | August 2, 2007 07:38 AM

There is no diagnosis of "hyperactive." The diagnosis, if it is appropriate, would be "ADHD" or "ADD" depending on when in the last 10 years the diagnosis was made, and whether the child exhibits the hyperactivity component of ADD - most children who suffer from ADD do not exhibit the hyperactivity component. Since a significant portion of the assessment for ADD is dependent on self-reporting by parents, it is nigh unto impossible for an ADD diagnosis to be made without parents' feedback on a variety of factors that support such a diagnosis, e.g., teacher comments alone will not support a diagnosis of ADD. I suspect that while teachers may have strongly recommended an assessment, your son was not assessed for ADHD. I'm glad if he doesn't struggle with that syndrome, but it is a bit disingenuous to spread, "recess is the answer", to a mental disorder.

Recess and exercise cures ADD in the same way that cancer is cured by swimming, and bi-polar disorder is cured by eating more meatloaf. If recess is the answer, then there was either a severe disconnect between the parents and the diagnosing psychiatrist or psychologist during the assessment, e.g., the answers the parents gave on diagnostic and observational questionnaires was not accurate, or the physician was unqualified to make the diagnosis.

Posted by: MN | August 2, 2007 3:38 PM

Daves000,
Yesterday, you declined to elaborate on how you think men are discriminated against because you were busy. Since this discussion is almost on topic, are you willing to revisit and explain yourself? If so, I am all ears.

Posted by: Emily | August 2, 2007 03:03 PM

Emily, you must think I am ignoring you (I'm not). I have tried to answer you, three times yesterday and another today, all of which never showed up here when I hit submit. I give up (for today, anyways).

Posted by: daves000 | August 2, 2007 3:38 PM

Emily

"And at least I know what to expect from you. "

That can be the kiss of death in a blog.

Posted by: anonforthis | August 2, 2007 3:38 PM

There is no diagnosis of "hyperactive." The diagnosis, if it is appropriate, would be "ADHD" or "ADD" depending on when in the last 10 years the diagnosis was made, and whether the child exhibits the hyperactivity component of ADD - most children who suffer from ADD do not exhibit the hyperactivity component.

-MN

Are you calling this poster a liar? It cerainly seems that way.

A quick google showed me that the H in ADHD is hyperactive, so it doesn't surprise me that those with ADD don't display the hyperactive part of the diagnosis (its not part of ADD). I assume ADHD is diagnosed on a sliding scale, so I would think it would be entirely possible for a child to display the hyperactive part without the attention deficit part. Which, while not a full blown psychiatric diagnosis, could be helped with either additional recess or medication.

I also find it entirely plausable that, even without a diagnosis, a teacher would recommend medicating a difficult child.

Or, I could be talking out my A$$. ;)

Posted by: daves000 | August 2, 2007 3:51 PM

I just lost a post also.

Washington Post technical people, fix your system!!!

Posted by: Emily | August 2, 2007 3:51 PM

I have to address one misconception that I keep seeing pop up in these "Are the boys all right" kind of discussions: the idea that primary education was somehow designed to favor girls. In fact, the primary education system evolved, over a long time, with boys as the main consumers of it. Most public education, here and in Britain, at least, involved memorization and recitation, and a lot of sitting still and being quiet. That was considered the best way to learn the basics. It may just be that children used to get much more exercise than they do now, and so had an easier time with the sitting still, or maybe they hated it just as much but discipline was stricter. And maybe girls are, on average, better at sitting still and being quiet than boys are. But stereotypes serve no one well; some girls are more boisterous, some boys more studious. And, boys continue to outperform girls in math and science at the university level, and in reaching the highest ranks of medicine, law, and business, so clearly men have it in them to succeed.

When I went to elementary and middle school, we had a 15-minute recess in the morning, a 30-minute recess after lunch, and P.E. every day. Now, my understanding is that kids get a lot less recess, and the cause of that is slashed budgets and test stress.

Further, the things that do hamper boys may not be strictly the result of gender; for example, innner-city boys have lots of problems, but is that because they are boys, or because they live among poverty, drugs, and crime in a subculture with a dearth of involved fathers (due to that same poverty, drugs, and crime)?

Posted by: Katya2 | August 2, 2007 3:57 PM

"Are you calling this poster a liar? It cerainly seems that way."

The final words of the blog...

Posted by: anonforthis | August 2, 2007 3:58 PM

daves000, I don't see you as a conservative, but that's probably because I'm pretty moderate.

MN, good points about ADHD and ADD. I'll add to that the obvious point that a teacher complaining about your kid being disruptive does not equal a diagnosis. You can tell the teachers to shove their opinions where the sun don't shine if they suggest medicating your child when you've already gotten a clean bill of health from the doctor. That being said, medication can and does help children. In my opinion, you (not you personally) are doing a disservice to your child if you put your head in the sand and pretend your kid just needs to let off a little steam instead of getting him or her diagnosed.

Posted by: Meesh | August 2, 2007 4:03 PM

I have to address one misconception that I keep seeing pop up in these "Are the boys all right" kind of discussions: the idea that primary education was somehow designed to favor girls.

Posted by: Katya2 | August 2, 2007 03:57 PM

I don't think anyone is saying that though. I think we would all agree that public education in the past was primarily setup for, in descending order of importance; the well off, boys and then girls.

What a lot of people are saying now is that, in our effort to raise the performance of girls, we have changed the way school operates to the extent that it now puts boys at a disadvantage.

And I honestly believe that if the college attendance ratio were 4:3 favoring boys, none of you here would be giving excuses as to why it is OK.

Posted by: daves000 | August 2, 2007 4:07 PM

daves000 --

Please explain for the group how school is different now than in, say, the 70s, so that it puts boys at a disadvantage? What changes were made, specifically, so that girls would excel and boys would struggle?

Re: your response to MN on ADHD, I choose option C. Unless I missed something and you have an advanced degree or MD in psychology, neurology, pediatrics, or another related subject?

Posted by: vegasmom89109 | August 2, 2007 4:14 PM

Re: your response to MN on ADHD, I choose option C. Unless I missed something and you have an advanced degree or MD in psychology, neurology, pediatrics, or another related subject?

Posted by: vegasmom89109 | August 2, 2007 04:14 PM

You are entitled to you opinion. Do you have such a degree?

Posted by: daves000 | August 2, 2007 4:21 PM

How often are kids labeled ADD or ADHD when they are simply bored? Either the teacher in ineffective or they are farther along than the other kids in that particular subject. Just because someone has been hired as a teacher doesn't always mean they can teach.

Posted by: KLB_SS_MD | August 2, 2007 4:26 PM

daves000 --

Please explain for the group how school is different now than in, say, the 70s, so that it puts boys at a disadvantage? What changes were made, specifically, so that girls would excel and boys would struggle?

Posted by: vegasmom89109 | August 2, 2007 04:14 PM

First, if you read carefully, I never said I hold that point of view.

I was just trying to point out to Katya that I don't think very many people (if any) hold the opinion that "that primary education was somehow designed to favor girls."

And since you feel I am not qualiied to answer a question without a relevant degree, I will pass on your polite request as I am not qualified to answer.

Posted by: daves000 | August 2, 2007 4:38 PM

No, daves000, I don't, which is why I don't speculate, pontificate, or otherwise elaborate on the subject, especially if my only first-hand knowledge is a bunch of media hype. I prefer to talk to parents who have a child with an official diagnosis, read medical journals, and talk to teachers who deal with disruptive children, both ADD/ADHD and "normal," before I jump to a lot of conclusions.

ADD and ADHD are medical diagnoses. Using words and phrases like "assume," "I would think," and "I find it plausible" is inappropriate. Listen to some of the people who have experience, either medical professionals or parents -- you might learn something.

Posted by: vegasmom89109 | August 2, 2007 4:41 PM

What a lot of people are saying now is that, in our effort to raise the performance of girls, we have changed the way school operates to the extent that it now puts boys at a disadvantage.

And I honestly believe that if the college attendance ratio were 4:3 favoring boys, none of you here would be giving excuses as to why it is OK.


Posted by: daves000 | August 2, 2007 04:07 PM

daves000 -- I was responding to this portion of your post when I asked you to explain how education has changed so that it now favors girls. I apologize if I misunderstood, but I thought your post implied you agreed with this explanation.

You are such a font of opinions and absolute knowledge. I assumed you must have some direct experience or research or specific examples to share about boys vs. girls in school. Seems I was mistaken.

Posted by: vegasmom89109 | August 2, 2007 4:59 PM

No, daves000, I don't, which is why I don't speculate, pontificate, or otherwise elaborate on the subject, especially if my only first-hand knowledge is a bunch of media hype. I prefer to talk to parents who have a child with an official diagnosis, read medical journals, and talk to teachers who deal with disruptive children, both ADD/ADHD and "normal," before I jump to a lot of conclusions.

Posted by: vegasmom89109 | August 2, 2007 04:41 PM

So, you think the original poster was lying too?

Posted by: daves000 | August 2, 2007 5:04 PM

You are such a font of opinions and absolute knowledge.

Posted by: vegasmom89109 | August 2, 2007 04:59 PM

Opinions, maybe. Absolute knowledge, I don't think so. Why do think I put so many qualifier in my statements?

I don't know what I did to you to earn all this venom, but what ever it was, I didn't mean it.

Posted by: daves000 | August 2, 2007 5:13 PM

daves000 -- If I were talking to the original poster, I would probably ask about the hyperactivity diagnosis because I haven't heard of such a diagnosis in many many years (if it ever truly was a diagnosis and not an educational catch-all for kids who can't sit still). Could be this poster was using inappropriate shorthand. Could be she made it all up. Could be her child went to school in 1968 and that was what teachers and docs told her. Could be her doc still thinks it's 1968. Could be any number of things.

One of the shortcomings of a blog discussion is that you can't pick up on the nuances you might if you were having the same conversation over coffee. I thought MN did an admirable job of explaining what a current diagnosis meant. I'm sure this was for the benefit of the fellow-blog readers, not to call the poster a liar. The original poster is free to weigh in to elaborate on her experience. If she does, we can further the conversation. If she doesn't, so be it. But no one's calling her a liar. Calm down.

Posted by: vegasmom89109 | August 2, 2007 5:18 PM

One of the shortcomings of a blog discussion is that you can't pick up on the nuances you might if you were having the same conversation over coffee.

Posted by: vegasmom89109 | August 2, 2007 05:18 PM

This is certainly true based on your perception of me.

Posted by: daves000 | August 2, 2007 5:23 PM

Vegas Mom, part of daves000's modus operandi is to feign being wounded, viz.: "I don't know what I did to you to earn all this venom..." So let's just ignore him until he's willing to discuss issues objectively instead of acting the victim.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 2, 2007 5:25 PM

I've been reading this blog since its inception and while I can see the pros/cons of having people sign in - I don't necessarily think it is going to reduce the nastiness. Look at the way mehitabel has been responding lately. As catlady she used to have good ideas and provide useful feedback without being rude. But after reading some of her comments the last two days and now her response on daves000 makes me wonder what happened to the real catlady.

Posted by: noname1 | August 2, 2007 5:30 PM

And now he just proved my point, Vegas Mom.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 2, 2007 5:36 PM

What a lot of people are saying now is that, in our effort to raise the performance of girls, we have changed the way school operates to the extent that it now puts boys at a disadvantage.

And I honestly believe that if the college attendance ratio were 4:3 favoring boys, none of you here would be giving excuses as to why it is OK.


Posted by: daves000 | August 2, 2007 04:07 PM

dave, You are tying together unconnected issues. We have changed the way public schools operate, not in a deliberate attempt to do anything to benefit girls, but through the laws of unintended consequences.

Dramatically increased class sizes result in classrooms in which many boys find it difficult to focus or concentrate. No one advocates for large class sizes or suggests that there is any positive educational benefit from tolerating them. They are simply a reality for cash-strapped school systems.

NCLB has caused teachers to cut-out subjects that were interesting and offered a change of pace from drills and repetition, e.g., they kept boys engaged. Now many teachers focus on reading and math for big blocks (2 hours+) of time, rather than breaking up the school day into lots of different topics and units, including social studies, science, PE, and special learning units (Colonial Day, etc.). Boys are bored, get turned off from school, and accept inexperienced el-ed teachers' labels that they are disruptive.

These things don't benefit girls at all. Girls merely have an edge in maturity between ages 5 and 11 and that maturity allows girls to better tolerate the boredom and rigidity of many public elementary schools.

Posted by: mn.188 | August 2, 2007 5:48 PM

and vegas mom - much thanks.

Posted by: mn.188 | August 2, 2007 5:54 PM

MN.188, well put. Many of the situations you describe occur even in regions where enrollments aren't growing -- just the economic crunch on school systems, especially when taxpayers want tax-cuts instead of supporting public schools sufficiently to meet NCLB criteria as well as retaining programs like music, art, and other aspects of well-rounded education.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 2, 2007 5:59 PM

Vegas Mom, part of daves000's modus operandi is to feign being wounded, viz.: "I don't know what I did to you to earn all this venom..." So let's just ignore him until he's willing to discuss issues objectively instead of acting the victim.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 2, 2007 05:25 PM

I know when I am not welcome. See ya.

Posted by: daves000 | August 2, 2007 6:04 PM

See what I mean: it's all about being the victim.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 2, 2007 6:07 PM

MN --

Your comment about how class sizes have grown is interesting, because I recently read a column by Jay Mathews in the WaPo that came to the opposite conclusion -- that class sizes are actually much smaller than they were 20-30 years ago. He published a picture of his 4th grade class, which had at least 40 kids in it. I dug up my class pics and had a similar epiphany -- all of my classes in elementary school had 30-40 kids. DD has never been in a class with more than 20 students. This may be unique to our area as the legislature passed a mandatory class-size rule that limits 1st-3rd grade classrooms to 15 students. Most schools apply for a waiver because they can't hire enough teachers to get to that number. But most do manage to keep it at 20.

Does anyone else remember their class sizes if they went to elementary school in the 60s, 70s, or 80s? How many children are in elementary school classrooms in other states?

Agree that NCLB has been a disaster.

Posted by: vegasmom89109 | August 2, 2007 6:10 PM

Okay, 1st and 2nd grade in an Idaho parochial school was 50 kids. 3rd grade was public school and there were about 30 kids.

4th grade our family moved to California (really it was part of Oregon, but south of the state border: *seriously* rural, 8 grades in four classrooms), so for 4th through 8th grade there were 18 in my grade, and 12 in the grade behind me for a total of 30 in the classroom during even-numbered grades, or 7 in the grade ahead of me for a total of 25 during odd-numbered grades. Oh, the 18 of us were the largest group that school had ever had.

My sons are in Oakland schools, and we've been careful about *which* schools they attend. State law requres kindergarten through 3rd grade classrooms are 20 students or less, 4th and 5th grades and middle schools are limited to 30, and we haven't been in the troubled schools that can't meet the state standards.

Posted by: sue | August 2, 2007 6:44 PM

My class sizes in K - 6 ranged between 16 and 21 kids.

My junior high and high school classes ranged between 15 (math) and 30.

Somewhere in the above chronology, we moved from small town North to county-schools small city South.

Objectively, if you walk in the classrooms in many schools, you know immediately whether they were constructed to hold the number of desks that inhabit them. I've seen quite a few very, very crowded classrooms. That would indicate that there's at least been a change in class size since the date on which the school was designed/constructed.

Posted by: mn.188 | August 2, 2007 7:09 PM

The vast majority of schools in Las Vegas are new, especially in my area, so they've probably been constructed with the class-size mandates in mind.

School populations tend to ebb and flow, of course. My old elementary school, which was built in the 60s, was packed while I was there in the 70s. It was closed and converted to some other use in the 90s, I believe. It was recently "reactivated" and is full of lots of children again. I imagine the physical size of the classroom would depend upon the number of students the school needed to accommodate and the average classroom size in the era in which it was designed.

Classrooms are set up differently now than when I was in school in the 70s, especially 1st & 2nd grade. DD's class had lots of centers and students moved around throughout the day. The typical classroom design of desks in rows didn't show up until 3rd grade.

Posted by: vegasmom89109 | August 2, 2007 7:22 PM

"Classrooms are set up differently now than when I was in school in the 70s, especially 1st & 2nd grade. DD's class had lots of centers and students moved around throughout the day. The typical classroom design of desks in rows didn't show up until 3rd grade."

regional differences are interesting. We only have centers in kindergarten here in the 10 - 12 schools I've visited. Maybe if there was more moving around, instead of the dreaded desks - whether in rows or groups, or whatever - boys would be more inspired.

Posted by: mn.188 | August 2, 2007 7:33 PM

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