Articles and Newsfeeds on Education and Family Issues

 

Global news feeds that extend research on boys to wider conversations about education, families, and society. Also an archive of articles on boy development.

Boys don't want to appear weak, so they express their anger rather than their sadness. When asked what happens when his friend stands him up, a boy in one of my studies says: "I will get mad... but I'm not gonna get mad 'cause he dissed me. I'm gonna get mad 'cause I missed him but I will probably show it to him like I'm mad." Boys tell us, furthermore, that their anger leads them to feel violent. When I asked a classroom full of 12-year-old boys why Adam Lanza killed the school children in Newtown, Conn., the boys responded by telling me it because he was "lonely" and then preceded to tell me their own stories of feeling lonely or excluded and how angry these experiences made them feel.
 

We Are Teachers conducted a survey of their fellow teachers and came up with some interesting results. They put together this handy visualization and came up with some key facts. For example, roughly 2 out of 3 teachers surveyed use traditional and digital games in their classroom. However, about 22% say they simply don’t have time to deploy game-based learning. About half (56%) say they simply don’t have access to the computers needed for digital games.

Stereotyped as "naughty," boys quickly learn that they are thought of as dumber and more trouble than girls. And that has consequences. "When boys aged seven to eight were told that they tend to do worse at school than girls, they scored more poorly in reading, writing and mathematics tests than those who were not primed for failure. And telling children aged six to nine before a test that both sexes were expected to do equally well improved the boys' performance." But the message that boys get is that they're not as smart.

But what exactly is going on with boys? A new study conducted by two economists from the University of Georgia casts some light on the subject. The researchers analyzed a massive amount of data that was collected by the federal government on 10,000 students as they moved from kindergarten to eighth grade.

If the parents are at work when a child is out of school, more inappropriate behavior often occurs, the authors said in the statement, which was published online Feb. 25 in the journal Pediatrics. Students who are suspended or expelled are more likely to never get a high school diploma, end up in the juvenile justice system or eventually land a low-paying job or no job at all.

Like the idea of game-based learning, but not sure how it would work practically in your classroom? By its nature, game-based learning involves turning over a certain amount of the learning process to your students. While this promises to boost motivation and increase independence, it can also cause a headache if you don’t have some basic procedures and routines in place. With that in mind, here are some tricks to ensure that game-based learning is fun and engaging for everyone.

This article gives a discussion about the response to gun violence in the country as growing population seeks to blame violent video game play for the actions. This article draws on several other articles to suggest that there is a much deeper issue going on in the country due to a more pressing issue of mental illnesses.

In terms of interacting with other children, Minecraft sets down very clear rules – largely, that there are none, and just like in real life, these children must choose to work in teams, despite the fact that being aggressive or selfish may look like the immediately easier option. A house is built faster with four kids working together, and the game becomes a lot easier once night falls (when the monsters appear, furthering its appeal and relevance to an age bracket still scared of the dark) when those four are guarding each other, as well as themselves.

American boys across the ability spectrum are struggling in the nation’s schools, with teachers and administrators failing to engage their specific interests and needs. This neglect has ominous implications not only for the boy's social and intellectual development but for the national economy, as policy analysts are just beginning to calculate.  Find out more in this well-researched essay for Atlantic Magazine from The War Against Boys author Christina Hoff Sommers.

 

The “Teach Kids, Not Stereotypes” initiative thinks separating students by gender is equivalent to racial segregation. 

 

Steve Nelson write for the Huffington post, that he's not interested in helping to create a homogeneous generation of common children, raised on the Common Core and marched through a regime of controls and conformity. And he certainly don't care to see children's complex and powerful emotions subdued by a program that takes authentic feelings and corrals them into a contrived box of "mood meters" and catch phrases. 

 

For the newrepublic.com, Elizabeth Weil writes about valorizing self-regulation. Which shifts the focus away from an impersonal, overtaxed, and underfunded school system and places the burden for overcoming those shortcomings on its students.

 

Young men and women who choose to enter teaching do so, in part, because they understand their identity to be the one who gets to stand in front of the classroom, be in charge, and have access to the answer key at the back of the math book. But today, that antiquated notion of what a teacher is simply won't work. If gaming were to be central to a classroom, teachers become coaches, team players, mentors, even true learners with their students. Employing games fully in classrooms begins to recognize that kids already have the entire font of knowledge that teachers used to be, in the palm of their hands in the form of an iPod or iPhone

 

You want to play a fun new app on your iPhone or iPad? There’s a kid for that. Jefferson Johnson, who is in the fifth grade at Flint Hill Elementary School in the Vienna area of Fairfax County. At the ripe old age of nine, he devised the concept and then developed (with some help from Australia) the gameTreehouse Wars.”

 

Parents and activists were pleased with the new policy on recess. Rochelle Davis, president and CEO of the Healthy Schools Campaign, which supported the push for recess, says that having it institutionalized as district policy was “a very great step in the right direction.” But lack of money to hire staff to supervise children was a problem, one that is likely to worsen given the budget cuts already reported by some schools.

 

Single-sex academies like these two Dallas schools not only benefit the students fortunate enough to attend but also are a part of the solution to the growing boy gap in education and the persistent girl gap in math and science. Today millions of American boys are languishing academically. Boys in all ethnic groups and social classes are far less likely than their sisters to feel connected to school, to earn good grades, or to attend college. Girls, by comparison, are thriving academically, but are still far less likely than boys to enter fields in science and technology. Boys and girls, taken as groups, have different interests, propensities, and needs. These academies can provide important lessons on how to educate our children more effectively. 

Let's hear it for purple hair! Odd way to begin a post perhaps, but purple hair needs all the support it can get. This exclamation arises from a recent exchange among the heads of some private schools in which dress codes were the topic. There seemed a consensus that cracking down on unnatural hair color was good policy. My take? Channeling John McEnroe -- you can't be serious! There may be some "codes" necessary in a school environment. Offensive, revealing or commercial clothing certainly might be restricted. As should always be the case in setting rules or policy for children, a thoughtful adult could easily explain the rationale for those prohibitions

A different, utopian approach to classroom management works from the premise that children are natively good and reasonable. If one is misbehaving, he’s trying to tell you that something is wrong. Maybe the curriculum is too easy, too hard, too monotonous. Maybe the child feels disregarded, threatened, or set up to fail. It’s a pretty thought, order through authentic, handcrafted curricula. But it’s nearly impossible to execute in the schools created through the combination of No Child Left Behind and recessionary budget-slashing. And that makes internal discipline very convenient right now.

Young men and women who choose to enter teaching do so, in part, because they understand their identity to be the one who gets to stand in front of the classroom, be in charge, and have access to the answer key at the back of the math book. But today, that antiquated notion of what a teacher is simply won't work. If gaming were to be central to a classroom, teachers become coaches, team players, mentors, even true learners with their students. Employing games fully in classrooms begins to recognize that kids already have the entire font of knowledge that teachers used to be, in the palm of their hands in the form of an iPod or iPhone

9-Year-Old Creates Treehouse Apps

The kid is Jefferson Johnson, who begins fifth grade today at Flint Hill Elementary School in the Vienna area of Fairfax County. At the ripe old age of nine, he devised the concept and then developed (with some help from Australia) the game “Treehouse Wars.” It’s a sort of humanized version of “Plants vs. Zombies” in which a swarm of aliens attacks a boy in a treehouse, and the boy must fend them off with water balloons, frisbees, bowling balls, boomerangs and other stuff you can acquire as you rise through the 30 (!!) increasingly difficult levels of the game.

The hundreds of boys in my interview studies over the past 20 years make the direct link between not having close friendships -- friendships in which "deep secrets" are shared -- and going "wacko," committing suicide, doing drugs, and "taking it out on others." They speak at length about the difficulties of finding friends with whom they can trust, the pressures to "man up," and the fear that expressing their desires for connection will make them look girly or gay. These themes are not simply heard among the boys who are "loners," they are also heard by the popular, sports-playing boys. These themes are evident in the research with boys as well as in the diaries of boys who have committed suicide.

Those addictive video games that keep players glued to the screen may actually do the brain some good — or one of them does, anyway. A new study from the journal Molecular Psychiatry digs into the effect of video game play on the volume of the brain’s gray matter — the tissue responsible for muscle control, memory, language and sensory perception.

Your mother was wrong. Video games aren't bad for you. They're actually making our life better. Despite hand-wringing over a supposed connection between violence and video games (hint: there isn't any), numerous academic studies indicate that playing video games has many psychological and even physical benefits. Taken together, it turns out video games actually make you a better human being.

If you're feeling adventurous today, feel free to read on.  I'll forewarn you though, this post contains subject matter about which I feel very strongly.  As are most emotionally heated issues - I suppose it's controversial.  But hey, I feel how I feel and that's not going to be changed.

When Kathy Lauer-Williams’s son was in elementary school in Allentown, Pennsylvania, he would often lose recess as a punishment for forgetting his homework or a signature on a form. Troubled by the teacher’s habit of taking away recess, Lauer-Williams wrote about it on her blog and spoke to other parents. She found that she was not the only parent questioning this practice. Despite her attempts to talk to the school, she says nothing has changed.

It wasn’t easy – but Idris Brewster and Seun Summers made it through. The two teenagers made it through a difficult, challenge-filled journey to graduate high school. And they made it through with cameras documenting their every move. The two friends were the main characters in the documentary American Promise, which explores their lives in Brooklyn from kindergarten to high school graduation day.

America is failing our boys. Today’s boys have lower aspirations for higher education than girls. While the disparity in interest in earning a degree appears when men and women are in their 20s, the problem may start as early as the fifth grade -- where more boys than girls become psychological dropouts.

To celebrate our family’s Mexican heritage, on Christmas Eve we would eat tamales, enchiladas, sopapillas, and pozole. Both my brother Larry and I eagerly devoured everything on the menu except for the pozole, which we despised. (For those of you who don’t know, pozole is a traditional Mexican maize stew that usually includes chilies and some sort of meat, like pork or cow tripe. I don’t know why we didn’t like it. I actually find the dish quite delicious nowadays).

In his research on achievement by black males in higher education, University of Pennsylvania Prof. Shaun Harper--director of the Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education--didn't try to answer why their college failure rate is so high. Instead, he set out to see what could be learned from the students who were succeeding. As a follow-up to that work, Harper has focused on young men poised to make the leap into higher education.

My house is littered with plastic weapons. The toy box contains light sabers and plastic guns. My teen’s closet looks like it’s home to an arsenal; in reality, his “arsenal” is a stash of Airsoft guns. My boys have spent hours jumping off the couch and running around in the woods, pretending to shoot one another. My boys are not psychopaths. (Well, not most of the time anyway!) They are not even particularly violent people. But they—like most American boys—love to play guns.

Say you’re a teacher with a diverse and exciting group of students who have found learning together an exciting prospect. You have had ups and downs, but each day has ended with more students feeling positive about their ability to learn, and each day investing more in the process. Then, a couple of weeks into the school year, you have to make the first stop in this process. The first Pearson-created standardized test has landed on your desk.

Video games are always getting a bad rap. They’re too violent. They make you lazy. They make you stupid. Staring at screens is bad for your eyes. You’ll never get a girlfriend. But those are lies. Video games are none of those things—well, maybe some of them are—and they can actually help improve your life, if you’re willing to sit down and play them. 
    

A couple of weeks had passed since Markus started working at Jalbum and his thoughts were circling full speed around the game he’d promised himself he’d work on. Like when he was a child and would run home from school to his LEGOs, he now spent almost all his free time in front of his home computer. He combed the Internet in search of inspiration for his project; the heavy labor—the coding—could begin only after he figured out what kind of game he wanted to create. The idea for Minecraftbegan to take shape in his encounter with Dwarf Fortress.

Do schools better suit girls? “It’s a huge generalization, but I think it is true,” Reist said. “To treat everyone the same is to treat them unfairly sometimes.” Reist, who favours all-boys’ or all-girls’ schools, said the solution is to acknowledge those differences and veer away from what he calls “the one-size-fits-all approach.”

Not surprisingly, in her talks with teens, Wiseman found that one of the most popular topics was the thorny social and ethical dynamics of hookups. So, based on these conversations, she created the rules of dibs for boys, or how to pursue girls without wrecking friendships, which you can read here in an exclusive excerpt from The Guide.
 

The diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is on the rise in American children, with an estimated 2 million more kids receiving a diagnosis of ADHD and 1 million more taking medication for ADHD in 2011 than there were in 2003, according to new data released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

Aimed at the most vulnerable student population - low-income boys - the Eagle Academies have shown above-average results. The four-year graduation rate for the Bronx Eagle Academy - the only location around long enough to have graduating class - in 2012 was 67.5 percent. The citywide average that year was 64.7 percent but only 59.9 percent for boys. Graduates have gone on to colleges including Syracuse University, Skidmore College, and Fordham University. Banks said as many as 4,000 students apply for every 100 Eagle Academy slots at schools in Brooklyn, Queens, Harlem, and Newark, N.J.


 

The number of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder continues to rise, health officials say. The latest survey says more than one in 10 children has been diagnosed with it. ADHD has been increasing for at least 15 years. Experts think that's because more doctors are looking for ADHD, and more parents know about it. But the new survey suggests the increase may be leveling off a little.


 

New Haven, like many cities, has a jarring mismatch between the student population and the teaching workforce: 85 percent of students are racial minorities, and 85 percent of teachers are white.

The shortage of minority teachers is even more severe for men. Out of 1,883 active teachers on file in the district, only 56 are black men, according to the school district’s latest figures. Black males make up 3 percent of the teaching workforce, but 22 percent of the 20,938 students in New Haven public schools. Hispanic men are also scarce: In New Haven, only 23 teachers are Hispanic men. Those facts put New Haven roughly on par with the rest of the country: Less than 2 percent of U.S. teachers are black males, according to the U.S. Department of Education. The same goes for Hispanic males. Male teachers are hard to come by: three-quarters of teachers in New Haven, and nationally, are women.