Condemning boys to mediocrity

Sydney Morning Herald

As school systems cater for the middle of the bell shaped curve those ont eh edges get left behind…increasingly that mean boys. If you are a male students who doesn’t fit the ideal they are turning away from learning byt the attitudes of schools and the system:

HENRY V is one of Shakespeare’s most appealing characters. He was rambunctious when young and courageous when older. But suppose Henry went to an American school.

By about the third week of kindergarten, Henry’s teacher would be sending notes home saying that Henry ”had another hard day today.” By mid-year, there’d be sly little hints dropped that maybe Henry’s parents should think about medication for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Many of the other boys are on it, and they find school much easier.

By primary school, Henry would be lucky to get 20-minute snatches of recess. During one, he’d jump off the top of the jungle gym, and, by the time he hit the ground, the supervising teachers would be all over him for breaking the safety rules. He’d get in a serious wrestling match with his buddy Falstaff, and, by the time he got him in a headlock, there’d be suspensions all around. First, Henry would withdraw. He’d decide that the official school culture is for wimps and softies and he’d just disengage. In kindergarten, he’d wonder why he just couldn’t be good. By high school, he’d lose interest in trying and his grades would plummet.

Then he’d rebel. If the official high school culture was uber-nurturing, he’d be uber-crude. If it valued co-operation and sensitivity, he’d devote his mental energies to violent video games and aggressive music. If university wanted him to be focused and tightly ambitious, he’d exile himself into a lewd and unsupervised laddie subculture. He’d have vague high ambitions but no realistic way to realise them. Day to day, he’d look completely adrift.

This is roughly what’s happening in schools across the Western world. The education system has become culturally cohesive, rewarding and encouraging a certain sort of person: one who is nurturing, collaborative, disciplined, neat, studious, industrious and ambitious. People who don’t fit this cultural ideal respond by disengaging and rebelling.


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  • ConwayCaptain

    Did Henry V at school.  Bloody good play full of blood and guts.  This is the type of play that boys should do not Chick Lit.

    Cry Hazard and let slip the dogs of war

    • grumpy

      I thought it was “cry havoc…”?

      • ConwayCaptain

        My mistake

        It was a signal that after a town had fallen and had been earlier given the opportunity to surrender and hadnt then the soldiers were let loose to rape pillage and plunder

    • Kimbo

       “And gentlemen in England now a-bed
      Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
      And hold their manhoods cheap (no laughing down the back there, young Conway! Billy Shakespeare didn’t mean that!) whiles any speaks
      That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day”.

      • ConwayCaptain

        The Kenneth Branagh version og Henr V is far superior to Olivier’s.

        The KB version showed it as it was.

        There were some Fr Aristo families wher 3 and 4 generatyions were wiped out.

        The Eng Bowmen were suffering from dysentery and marched with no trouser on.  Almost like the Falklands Campaign.

        Shakespeare’s speech befor Agincourt actually take from Henry’s speech written down at the time.  Tim Collins speech before leading his Regt into Iraq is held as a modern equivalent

    • Kimbo

        @ CC

      “The Kenneth Branagh version og Henr V is far superior to Olivier’s”.

      Yep. Branagh’s was certainly the “darker” of the two. Right from the
      beginning with Derek Jacobi as Prologue, striking a match to lift the
      darkness, “Oh for a muse of fire that would ascend the brightest heaven
      of invention…”

      Olivier’s version was made just as WWII was ending (I think it was
      dedicated to the British paratroops or commandos), so it went for a
      happy and glorious Hollywood/Disney feel. Had lots of English cavalry
      charges on a firm racecourse of green. However, as I’m sure you well
      know, Agincourt was fought on a plowed field that soon turned to mud,
      and it was essentially only the French who attacked on horse – to their

      As you alluded in your previous exchange with grumpy, the speech before
      the seige of Harfleur shows Shakespeare had no problem exponding the
      horrors of war…

  • grumpy

    This is so very true and sad.  Caused completely by the feminisation of the education sector.

    This is deliberate and can trace back to the Min of Ed official who stated that “the only way to forward boy’s education was to ‘deconstruct male sexuality'”.

    • Lion_ess

      I agree with your view of the feminisation of the education sector.  I have recently moved my son from a public high school into Unitec where he is thriving

      • George

        We were at the graduation ceremony at Viv Uni this year which included the Education Faculty. I doubt if more than 2% of those qualifying were men. Prepare yourselves for enormous issues in 10 to 20 years time as this works its way through the system.

        Are there any publicly listed private schools I can invest in? I reckon the private sector is going to have a huge clientele base for decades to come!

  • Positan

    I loved the maturity of his introspection when, as Prince Hal in Henry IV, he mused over his decision to join the next day in the robbery on Gadshill that Falstaff and others had planned.

    “I know you all and will awhile uphold the unyoked humor of your idleness … “

    • Kimbo

       “…we understand him (the Dauphin) well
      How he comes o’er us with our wilder days,
      Not measuring what use we made of them.
      We never valued this poor seat of England ;
      And therefore, living hence, did give ourself
      To barbarous license; as ’tis ever common
      That men are merriest when they are from home…”

  • Neil

    I put it all down to a generation growing up with Homer and Bart Simpson as their idols actually…..

  • George

    Rosemary MacCleod in The Press today has a piece berating the whole education system for it’s pursuit of mediocracy.

    Her last two sentences are frighteningly prophetic.

    • Phronesis

      Too late.

  • Johnbronkhorst

    We seem to be teaching our boys (indirectly) that they don’t have to work hard to get a head. Our girls however seem to think, to get ahead they have to work teice as hard. Perception appears to be the problem….tell them all the truth, ……SMART and HARD work is what gets you success…nothing more and nothing less!!

    • Fozzie

      Have  two sons through this education system you so deride – one a high achiever completing his doctorate,  and the younger in early years of college – seen nothing of this teaching . The schools and teachers are constantly push them to achieve – reach for the stars. See this article has it’s origin in the US – no real comparison to NZ. We could do with less of this crap reporting and comparisons to systems that bear no resemblance to our reality here.

      • Johnbronkhorst

        So observation and intelect skipped a generation in your familly? Or did they get from their mother??? ALL the research is suggesting boys are falling behind and girls are surging ahead. AND….work ethic seems to be the difference!!!!

      • Did you see the part where it mentions this problem affects all the OECD nations? Didn’t think so…looks like you need remedial reading and comprehension.

  • Fozzie

    Johnny – I am their mother – so you can take your sexist shit talk  and put where the sun don’t shine ! May I dare  to suggest that the problem may be with the parenting rather than just the education system ? Work ethic is something that is learned at a young age – maybe too many parents more interested in their own lives, careers, overseas trips etc  that being there for there kids.

    • Johnbronkhorst

      touchy touchy…..So fucking what!!!..ALL education of children starts, ends and is encouraged by parents…congratulations on YOUR sons, however doesn’t change the fact that BOYS are falling behind GIRLS in the education race and the race to secure a good lifestyle and successful life!!! The education system is just a tool to be used, work ethic is critical to the results…personal RESPONSIBILITY….work hard and smart…..get ahead…simple equation…. boys aren’t being taught this and girls are!!!

      • Fozzie

         Never thought I would saying this to a bloke – but girls and boys are different ! Boys mature later and need different input – the schools my boys have been to recognise this and treat them differently – problem is a lot of parents don’t seem to want to understand  and expect the school to solve their problems for them. Raising two boys 15 years apart has been very interesting – the expectation now is that the school will fix all – well ‘hello’ it won’t !

      • Fergus

        fozzie….yes different….so what!!!??…..The requirements of success in life , employment and education are identical. EXPECTATION is the key, expect them to work hard and smart adnthey will succeed.

      • Pukakidon

         That is a bit of Fozzie logic.   Yes I agree with you that it is the parents that must bring their children to strive to achieve.  However we have a contract with the education department to teach our children to a high standard, and they are not holding their end up. I don’t care that they justify their poor performance by rating themselves against other countries which are heading down the same feminist tubes as well, I look at the current results, and they are abysmal for boys, it is akin to abuse and neglect and bloody disgraceful.

        Primary and Secondary teachers will not allow the customer e.g. us, to investigate their secret little world or to be able to demand better returns.   It is funny how poorly boys do in the predominantly female schooling environment, however when they get free of the shackles of feminism they thrive in the real world.   We just have to look at the pay scales between men and women and how the professions top 10 percent are men.   Women seem to do degrees which are of no use to human kind and the universities have now transformed degrees into a world of nonsence.   If you look in the polytechnics you will see masses of young men learning trades which are as important if not more important than the silly university degrees that woman seem to do well at, such as investigating how to justify why it is alright to be fat.

        Of course you would defend the results of the current primary and secondary school system, because it is all about woman for woman and run by drippy woman who don’t want their poorly performing system to be investigated.

  • grumpy

    Hardly surprising when you look at the people involved……

  • I have a link to a book by Leonard Sax in this post of mine: Revenge of the forsaken gods called Boys Adrift: The five factors driving the growing epidemic of unmotivated boys and underachieving young men.  Schooling is just one of the factors (but a biggie, so I’m not trying to minimise it).  The other factors are video games, prescription drugs, endoctrine disruptors and the devaluation of masculinity in our society.

    I find this subject on what makes boys do well or not really interesting as a mother to two boys, aged 15 and 11.  The most important thing seems to be is a whole lot of role modelling by the father – far more important that anyone else.

    • Karlos

      Completely agree with you Lucia, although I did have a second look at endoctrine disruptors, I thought you were talking about indoctrination at first, like what the Catholic Church uses.

  • grumpy

    No surprise when you look at who’s involved.  Check out some of the contributors to the radfem forum, silly bastards even use their “the standard” aliases.

  • ConwayCaptain

    The Brits led by the ZLABOUR PARTY no;less are considerinmg putting ex Froces perconnel into school to run them!!

    I went to a Naval Cadet School and it wouod do some of these shits the world of good.

    You call me SIr, I call you Sir the only difference is You mean it and I bloody well dont.

    You ‘orrible ltttle wog Siiiir. RSM Brittain to Hussein of Jordan at Sanfhurst

  • Kthxbai

    And not all girls suit the girly-girl curriculum, there are those of us who like our recesses, science, blood and guts novels and winner-take-all end of year exams as well. 

    We should at least have more of a choice as to how children are assessed and the curriculum content.

    • Pukakidon

       Agree Kthxbai – Horses for courses.