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Smart Boys: Talent, Manhood, and the Search for Meaning Paperback – September 1, 2001
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From Library Journal
This practical and provocative book explores the phenomenon of youthful male giftedness. Both professors of psychology in education at Arizona State University, Cohn and Kerr (Smart Girls: A New Psychology of Girls, Women, and Giftedness) combine original research based on a follow-up study of an accelerated-learning class from St. Louis, MO, in 1969 with a literature review of previous studies to ground their conclusions about giftedness and masculinity. Discussions cover life-cycle issues and the impact of giftedness on the academic and social adjustment of such boys, including problems of underachievement and antisocial personality characteristics. In addition to analyzing gifted minority youth, the book offers inspiring suggestions for guiding and parenting gifted boys. Conveying a clear sense of the loss of potential demonstrated by the starkly conventional lives of the St. Louis children as adults, the authors tackle deficiencies in the educational system and broader societal issues that inhibit talented boys. Accessibly and clearly written, this wide-ranging book should enrich the understanding of parents, teachers, and mentors. Its gender specificity also allows for concrete analyses and specific suggestions. Recommended for public libraries and specialized education collections. Antoinette Brinkman, formerly with the Southwest Indiana Mental Health Ctr. Lib., Evansville
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Ideals of masculinity that stress physical agility over intelligence compel smart boys and men "to ignore the urgings of their intellect and creative selves in order to fulfill socially ordained masculine roles," according to psychologists Kerr and Cohn. Kerr authored Smart Girls, Gifted Women (1985) and follows up by focusing on the particular challenges facing smart boys, given changes in sex roles and increased attention to the needs of girls. The book cites research and case studies showing that many gifted boys don't live up to their potential and suffer social isolation, having to choose between excellence and "normality." Kerr and Cohn start by examining how intelligence figures in images of American males and look at the developmental stages of gifted boys from infancy to manhood. Finally, the authors offer guidance to parents on how to nurture gifted boys and overcome their particular challenges, including ambivalence about their gifts and concerns about masculinity. Parents and teachers dealing with particularly bright boys will find this book a useful and encouraging resource. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top Customer Reviews
This book gives quite detailed accounts of many of the issues specific to gifted males, and it also breaks them down chronologically to address the growing gifted male at different stages of life, including gifted men (yeah!) It serves its purposes well as a quality reference book, and its reviews of the myriad popular books about boys, although too short, are helpful and basically sound.
One caveat: the writers (I assume both of them, since the reader has no way to identify which writer authored which section or article) write from a very PC perspective, which occasionally leads them to accept or reject certain hypotheses or ideas outright. Many of these actually deserve more careful consideration, positive or negative. There is also a strong and somewhat preachy emphasis on the problems of homosexual boys, and it runs as an undercurrent throughout the text. While the unique difficulties of these boys merits attention and tact from teachers and parents, it almost seems to be put on a pedestal in this book. Perhaps the authors have dealt extensively with homosexual boys who have faced many issues, but they are not explicit about this, so these emphases too often come across as agenda driven and prescriptive dictates.
All in all, quite well-written and broad, albeit a bit preachy in places. I would recommend this book for parents, teachers and gifted ed professionals who deal with gifted boys on a regular basis.
The book is very readable and flows through the personal and collective stories that all males--gifted in a variety of ways and from vaiour backgrounds--experience as they struggle to become themselves. We can all learn more about how to treat the unusual and valuable aspects of those gifted boys and men we deal with daily from reading this book.