Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Trouble With Boys by Peg Tyre: A Must Read Book!

"The Trouble With Boys: A Surprising Report Card on Our Sons, Their Problems at School, and What Parents and Educators Must Do" is a very interesting book that I read when the electricity was out for 5 days. The book was written by former Newsweek reporter Peg Trye after the responses whe received to a Newsweek cover article she wrote in 2006. This book looks at the trend in education that has boys underachieving and struggling in school. As an elementary educator I see part of this problem. I did not realize that it now extends up into colleges where we now are having a "girl" problem. Many girls, after working hard and reaching for their dreams, are finding it harder to get into some colleges as a college may be more willing to take a "weaker" academic boy in trying to maintain a more equal balance of student enrollment.

Upon my first read I found many interesting ideas, but what resonated with me was how she tracked the changes in education through the years. I found many of the trends that she mentioned were changes that were part of my education. From the experimental 60's, when I was part of a school system that liked to try "new" ideas in education, to attending a College Prep boarding school that had just started admitting girls as students. Even in my teaching career when it was drilled into us to teach to the girls the changes continued. Peg Tyre now maintains that we have to do the same for boys!

I agree with Peg. I have always been an advocate for finding ways to teach all students and that when we teach boys we need do it in boy-friendly terms. Many boys, and some girls, do not learn best in an classroom environment where they are made to sit still, be quiet, and to complete worksheets, and to keep all their work looking "pretty". As an elementary male teacher, I sometimes find that this is a hard concept to get across to some teachers. One comment that I liked in this book, and that I didn't expect, is that while Peg Tyre agrees that we need more male teachers in the elementary schools, she does say that "good teaching is good teaching" and that female teachers can do all the things necessary to help her male students achieve.

It certainly is a topic that I don't find addressed in the schools as much as I would like to see it being talked about (which should be as often as possible!). I wonder what would happen if on the state testing one of the subgroups that the test looks at would be the boy students.

I will have to reread the book again to collect my thoughts as I read it in the dark under some blankets and with gloves on my cold fingers. I was not interested in taking notes or marking up the book. I certainly feel it is a book that teachers and parents should definitely read.

Here is an excellent "authors/google" lecture given by Peg Tyre about the boy problem and her book. You can get a good feel for the book by listening to her speech.

Here is an appearance by Peg Tyre on the Today show.

1 comment:

borderst said...

Peg Tyre makes some thought-provoking observations in her Today show interview. I was happy to hear her opinion that this type of learning benefits girls, too. It's just good teaching practice.