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Why Boys Fail: Saving Our Sons from an Educational System That's Leaving Them Behind Hardcover – January 13, 2010
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“…thorough, thought-provoking look at the increasing achievement gap between boys and girls…engaging read…offers arguments that could be used by…youth advocates to fund literacy and related programs for boys.” -- Voya
“… parent of a son, school reform advocate, elementary school teacher, or, most importantly a school administrator or member of …school boards…you need to read this book.” -- TucsonCitzen.com
“This is why we need reporters…an unbiased look at what is and isn’t working in schools. Plenty of real stories and real journalism.” — guysread.com
“…subject matter is compelling…sound advice—recommended for parents, educators, and others advocating for innovation and flexibility in their educational situations.” — Library Journal
"…excellent starting point for examining a problem that could have long lasting consequences if it’s not addressed soon….insightful look into a serious deficit in our educational system…" — Bismarck Tribune
“…addresses an important, and neglected, problem in our schools. Teachers and administrators should pay close attention to what Whitmire has to say.“ — Washington Times
“The gender gap will certainly be a difficult problem to overcome…but hopefully this book will help pave the way for a better understanding.” —Geekdad blog on wired.com
“… brilliant new book… I don't know of a clearer or more balanced examination of this issue…recommendations at the end of the book are sensible, creative and overdue…” — Washington Post
“…provocative and useful new book…” -- Diverse Issues in Higher Education
“…backed by extensive body of research about the gender gap that exists from prekindergarten through college worldwide…straightforward, fun, and void of educationese.”–The School Administrator
The signs and statistics are undeniable: boys are falling behind in school. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the biggest culprits are not video games, pop culture, or female-dominated schools biased toward girls. The real problem is that boys have been thrust into a bewildering new school environment that demands high-level reading and writing skills long before they are capable of handling them.
Lacking the ability to compete, boys fall farther and farther behind. Eventually, the problem gets pushed into college, where close to 60% of the graduates are women. In a time when even cops, construction foremen, and machine operators need post-high school degrees, that’s a problem.
Why Boys Fail takes a hard look at how this ominous reality came to be, how it has worsened in recent years, and why attempts to resolve it often devolve into finger-pointing and polarizing politics.
But the book also shares some good news. Amidst the alarming proof of failure among boys—around the world—there are also inspiring case studies of schools where something is going right. Each has come up with realistic ways to make sure that every student—male and female—has the tools to succeed in school and later in life. Educators and parents alike will take heart in these promising developments, and heed the book’s call to action—not only to demand solutions but also to help create them for their own students and children.
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More About the Author
Of all the education issues I've written about, the boys dilemma may be the most perplexing. The conventional wisdom at the time, that girls were having a hard time in school, turned out to be false, and my research into the issue turned into Why Boys Fail.
Former DC schools chancellor Michelle Rhee wrote the foreword for Why Boys Fail, and soon after the book came out I approached her about cooperating for a biography. After a lengthy deliberation -- for Rhee, national publicity has often backfired -- she agreed, giving a green light for me to talk to her family, friends and work associates. The result is The Bee Eater.
Next I wrote a book with the College Board about which school districts and school leaders were doing the best job educating low-income students: Achieving the Dream. One chapter in that book was about Rocketship charter schools, which led to the current book I'm working on, On The Rocketship, which is about high performing charter schools trying to reach more students now attending lousy schools. On The Rocketship will be released in June, 2014.
Top Customer Reviews
Most helpful were the examples of schools that get things right, mostly by making sure no one, boys or girls, are falling behind.
Whitmire keeps coming back to the idea that the US government and the Department of Education has to get into the act by commissioning a major study into the boy problem. While I would agree that this might break the dam holding back serious consideration of boy-friendly education techniques, I don't see it as either a panacea or as a necessary step. The schools that are doing well by boys that he describes in the book are not doing so because they are responding to a government study; they are simply looking within their own student body and seeing the glaring inequalities. Any and every school can and must do that--without an outside kick if necessary.
More effective would be involved parents, principals, superintendents, school boards, and state legislatures insisting that schools report results by gender, and address any problems that show up in those results.
Whitmire only briefly and obliquely touches on the ed-school problem.Read more ›
Yet, some of his conclusions I found to be frustrating and unconvincing. For instance, he seems to insist that "feminization" of the classrooms is not a convincing explanation for boys' poor performance compared to girls', but throughout the book he points out ways in which teachers and the education system neglect the particular learning needs of boys -- especially when it comes to reading and writing assignments. One of Whitmire's major themes is that boys are failing in school because the world has become more verbal while boys haven't. But it seems more accurate to argue that the reason for the failure is that boys have vulnerabilities that are not being adequately addressed by an education system that is geared more to the learning styles and interests of girls. Fortunately, he does hold feminists in the US accountable for both their denial of the boy education problem and their persistent obstruction of reform efforts.
The book, all in all, is well worth a read for those who are concerned about this neglected problem and who realize that the academic failure of boys is harmful to our sons and daughters as well.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is not really a review but is more a few suggestions.
I once had friends who worked for the education department of the Australian state of NSW. Read more
Excellent book. Not just for educators and educational policy makers, but also for sociologists striving to understand broader range of factors determining life-success in modern... Read morePublished 11 months ago by petr.mateju
Every parent of a boy should read this book. It really helped make sense of what I've witnessed with my son's educational experience. Read morePublished 23 months ago by JJDsMom
I am the founder of A Voice for Male Students.com, a website which promotes educational equity for men and boys. Read morePublished on October 23, 2013 by Jonathan Taylor
I liked this book. Although I am not a classroom teacher I am an public heath educator. I used to write health pamphlets and presentation materials...at a 9th grade level. Read morePublished on August 9, 2013 by Gus A. Vaninetti Jr.
If you've ever wondered why your son has struggled in school this is a must read. My son suffered a great deal during his elementary school years because he is "gifted". Read morePublished on May 28, 2013 by Carol Gislason
Everyone should read this book. From my personal experience, raising my own children and attending countless grade school awards ceremonies, I can attest to the fact that boys... Read morePublished on January 11, 2013 by M. C.
As both an education policy professional and a parent of a young boy who will soon enter kindergarten, this was a good overview on an important and neglected topic. Read morePublished on January 9, 2013 by Jennifer Biundo
Journalist Richard Whitmire has written and the American Management Association's publishing wing AMACOM has published a nuts-and-bolts book about boys' failure to keep pace... Read morePublished on November 29, 2012 by J. Steven Svoboda