Well, whaddaya know?

Toast passes on an article in Slate which suggests that “the gender lens may not shed light on the latest educational crisis.” Gee, that sounds familiar. Where have I heard that before…?

Writer Ann Hulbert does a great job of debunking the “boys are in trouble” business with both data and a little common sense, and I’d do it no justice by excerpting, so I really recommend reading the whole thing.

One thing I’ll note, however, is this:

What's truly at stake for American children may not be the intricacies of neural wiring, but the rudimentary habits of working. Citing a recent study by two psychologists (one of them Martin E. P. Seligman, author of Learned Optimism), Washington Post education reporter Jay Mathews called attention to evidence that self-discipline—in particular, a capacity for deferred gratification—may be the best predictor of academic success, better than IQ: Do your homework, and plenty of practicing, before you watch television or sit down to play Xbox. That sounds, I know, like irresistible grist for an argument about whether and why girls might have an innate gift for just that kind of goody-goody, grindlike behavior, but let's not start it. It's a disservice to girls to portray them as destined for diligence, as though conscientious effort were a second-rate recourse for slower or steadier minds, rather than what is really is: a crucial choice that helps ensure long-term success. And it's an even bigger disservice to boys and their college prospects to reinforce the idea that discipline and self-denial are sissy stuff.
That’s a perfect example of why I’ve been arguing against viewing this through the prism of gender. It does a grave disservice to both boys and girls on a lot of levels, and has the added ill effect of ignoring the very real societal issues that must be addressed if this problem is going to be met with suitable solutions.

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