THE TROUBLE WITH BOYS
The book what started a national conversation about gender and education, the THE TROUBLE WITH BOYS: A SURPRISING REPORT CARD ON OUR SONS, THEIR PROBLEMS AT SCHOOL AND WHAT PARENTS & EDUCATORS MUST DO has been hailed by The New York Times, The Washington Post, Newsweek, Redbook, U.S News & World Report, People Magazine, Parents, the Today Show, Fox & Friends and Anderson Cooper 360. The author has lectured and conducted workshops around the country, giving teachers, school administrators and concerned parents a clear idea of the problems that beset boys from all walks of life and helping families and schools come up with new tools to insure all children achieve their best.
"Passionate, powerful and persuasive, Peg Tyre's beautifully researched book, THE TROUBLE WITH BOYS offers the reader a compelling explanation for why boys are not being served well by America's schools. I recommend this book to any mother who is confused or worried byherson's struggles in the classroom. What you learn here will help you to guide your son's education. I suspect that teachers may feel that Peg Tyre has given voice to their deepest doubts about the things we make boys endure in school. I urge all educators to read THE TROUBLE WITH BOYS. You won't teach boys in the same way once you've finished it."
My book, THE TROUBLE WITH BOYS, is an attempt to frame a discussion about education and gender in a new way. I am not interested in rehashing a debate about gender politics left over from 1978. We can no longer talk about gender and education like a seesaw—when girls are up, boys are down and visa versa. Yes, the struggle for equal rights for women continues—and there is much work to be done, particularly when it comes to equity issues in the workplace. Yes, there need to be more women in technology and computer fields and more women in corporate board rooms and in Congress. But we don't get there by ignoring the very real struggles of schoolboys.
I'm a long time education journalist. I've spent many years in classroom and visiting schools, talking to parents, teachers and school administrators. Over time, I began to sense that something had changed in our culture and our schools that was causing boys to fall behind. I began to comb through data—and what I found was not comforting. Boys are left back at twice the rates of girls, they are diagnosed as having more learning problems and attention issues. They get more C's and D's. They do less homework. At last look, the National Honor Society was nearly 70 percent female. While they get slightly higher scores on the SATs, many fewer boys that girls take the SATS.
Crown Publishing Group, Hardcover, September 2008, ISBN-13: 9780307381286
"Tyre delivers a cogent, reasoned overview of the current national debate about why boys are falling behind girls' achievement in school and not attending college in the same numbers. While the education emphasis in the 1990s was on helping girls succeed, especially in areas of math and science, boys are lagging behind, particularly in reading and writing; parents and educators, meanwhile, are scrambling to address the problems, from questioning teaching methods in preschool to rethinking single-sex schools. Tyre neatly sums up the information for palatable parental consumption: although boys tend to be active and noisy, and come to verbal skills later than girls, early-education teachers, mostly female, have little tolerance for the way boys express themselves. The accelerated curriculum and de-emphasis on recess do not render the classroom "boy friendly," and already set boys up for failure that grows more entrenched with each grade. Tyre touches on important concerns about the lack of male role models in many boys' lives, the perils of video-game obsession and the slippery dialogue over boys' brains versus girls' brains. Tyre treads carefully, offering a terrifically useful synthesis of information."
—Publishers Weekly (6/30/2008)
"A terrific book, solidly documented…Should be helpful to parents and teachers who need to understand why boys are falling behind and do something about it."
—Diane Ravitch, Professor, New York University's Steinhardt School of Education, and author of LEFT BACK: A CENTURY OF BATTLES OVER SCHOOL REFORM
"This is a book with an important point to make, whether or not you have a son struggling in school. Tyre incisively explains how institutions and cultural mores, not parenting, are contributing to the growing alienation of boys from school. Hers is a welcome and much-needed report card."
—Cleveland Plain Dealer (9/28/08)
"Tyre's new book has ignited a new national conversation about a generation of boys we hope to raise to become productive, caring young men."
—Tampa Tribune (9/28/08)
"Every once in a while a book comes along that offers us an opportunity to change the way we look at something we thought we understood. THE TROUBLE WITH BOYS offers just such an opportunity. It combines meticulous documentation with eloquent first person accounts in a way that good teachers know is the best way to present challenging ideas responsibly and persuasively."
—James Garbarino, PhD, author of LOST BOYS: WHY OUR SONS TURNS VIOLENT AND HOW WE CAN SAVE THEM
"A riveting, deeply thoughtful and encouraging book that leads the way to embracing the best in our boys."
—Louann Brizendine, author of the national bestseller THE FEMALE BRAIN and the forthcoming THE MALE BRAIN
"A new and insightful view of why boys are turning off from school and what parents and educators can do to bring them back…Brims with practical ideas as well as a sophisticated understanding of why boys have become the new underdogs from preschool through college."
—Judith Kleinfeld, Professor of Psychology and Director, Boys Project, University of Alaska Fairbanks
"A clear-eyed, wide ranging, deeply thoughtful book about what's going on with boys…and why we should care. This is the book about boys that could change our world."
—Jon Scieszka, Library of Congress appointed "Ambassador for Children's Literature," and author of numerous bestsellers and award winners including "The Time Warp Trio" books, THE STINKEY CHEESE MAN and MATH CURSE
Boys falling behind
Girls rule in school. Great, right? Not to the millions of boys who are performing poorly in reading and writing, being diagnosed with learning disabilities in record numbers, and opting out of college. In THE TROUBLE WITH BOYS, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Peg Tyre, herself a mother of two sons, dug deep into the research about how boys learn and came to some eye-opening conclusions about why our schools may be failing them.
What has changed to make boys struggle as early as preschool?
Over the last 10 years, parents have bought into this idea that children are receptive to academic learning at a very young age. But there's good research that says that's really bad for a lot of boys, who aren't developmentally ready yettheir fine motor skills and vocabulary develop later than girls', and they have a harder time sitting still. We think if we give them French and violin lessons early, we can plant the seeds of genius. But it doesn't work that way.
Why are girls succeeding while boys are more likely to struggle?
Boys predominantly choose books that are funny and vulgar. They think The Adventures of Captain Underpants is the funniest thing on earth. They don't want to read Little House on the Prairie! But if they bring Captain Underpants or Captain Marvel to school, many teachers will tell them those aren't classroom books. So they learn that what they like to read isn't acceptable at school. That's a negative message that sets a lot of boys back.
The same goes for writing. Boys tend to write for other boysthings that are dark, funny, and gorywhereas girls tend to write for the teacher. Boys don't want to write personal narratives; they want to write about Star Wars, and teachers might not approve of that, so we're creating nonreaders and nonwriters.
What do you suggest to parents who see their sons falling into these traps?
Talk with other mothers so you'll see that it's not just your kid. Find out what is developmentally appropriate for your son's age, and then check in with his teacher. Most are eager to make changes to help your child succeed. Some teachers keep blocks in the classroom through third grade, allow for greater leeway in reading and writing topics, and support risk-taking rather than compliance, which I think empowers a lot of childrenmany of them boys.