The Magazine

Boyz n the Book

Johnny can read, but won't, and who can blame him?

Oct 27, 2008, Vol. 14, No. 07 • By MARY GRABAR
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Although alarming statistics indicate that methods and reading materials that emphasize cooperation and sensitivity do not seem to serve the needs of boys, education schools, such as the one at Chapel Hill, resist adapting to proven methods. They caution on their web page about "stereotypes and reinforcing behaviors or attitudes which may not benefit boys. Just as teachers should avoid 'feminizing' boys by discouraging masculine characteristics, so too should they resist 'choosing books that match stereotyped views of boys' interests and capacities that may perpetuate those stereotypes and deny alternative interests.'"

But what about when boys' interests follow those masculine stereotypes of tests of strength, intelligence, and bravery--as research indicates they do? Are boys' academic achievements sacrificed in the name of resisting "stereotypes"? A stroll down any college campus today suggests that, indeed, whatever effect new reading materials and curricula have, they are not luring boys to higher education.

Mary Grabar teaches English at Emory.