Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Boy Shortage

I've seen articles that advocate "more of the same" as a solution to the boy shortage in colleges -- sort of like articles that argue because welfare and Head Start don't seem to be showing results, it proves we need more welfare and earlier Head Start.

Solutions proposed are things like, "Boys need to have more male role models in school," and "boys need to play more boy-like games," and "boys need to be allowed to be more disruptive in the classroom."

This article is closer to my hypothesis, which is that boys only do well when schools emphasize scholastic achievement. Changes is the details of social conditioning are, I suspect, irrelevant; it's merely the viewpoint that "school is there to socialize our youth" in lieu of "school is there to educate -- to teach people skills and facts."

Boys tend to focus on a couple of classes, and blow the others off. They have poor group skills -- unless the group is a competitive one -- but will obsess about acquiring a skill that makes them stand out, even when it takes away from other stuff they're doing.

Intellectual and other curves for boys tend to have the same means as those for girls, but higher variance. If you fail to reward them for sailing off the high end of a curve, the only thing boys still stand out in is failure.

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