The article (read the full version here) highlights a study of English and Welsh school kids which showed that boys from a white, working class background were way behind other groups in terms of numeracy, literacy and science exams (GCSEs).
This can’t be right? Surely if we take privilege and societal prejudices into account, boys (and especially white boys) are going to be the most upwardly mobile, highly educated individuals.
Except they’re not. And they haven’t been for the last ten years.
How did this happen? How did an entire section of our society get left behind. While improvements were made for girls and other ethnic groups, little white boys have been left in the hinterland of poor grades.
Their existence is an unfortunate footnote to the wide ranging success of removing inequality for others.
Christina H. Sommers, the feminist author highlighted this very issue in her book The War on Boys. She showed extensively how boys were being downtrodden at every turn.
It seems we haven’t figured out how to promote the rights of one group without disadvantaging another.
But the male education gap is only the snow covered tip of the cataclysmic iceberg.
Our Boys: Suicide and Those Lost Forever
When you think about genocide, what you think of? Pol Pott and the Cambodian Killing Fields? Idi Amin? Rwanda’s 1994 civil war?
What is the definition of genocide? I found this online:
Genocide is the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular nation or ethnic group.
What does this have to do with male suicide? Here’s what:
Male suicide rates are far in excess of female rates. Men and boys are several times more likely to kill themselves than women and girls.
So much so that it is the biggest killer of young men and even skews male life expectancy. Teenage boys are much more likely to commit suicide than teenage girls.
But what does that have to do with genocide? Look again at the definition. The deliberate killing of a large group of people. Our genocide isn’t at the hands of a despotic ruler. It’s us that is doing the killing.
When I was growing up I’d go sledging every time it snowed. One time I met a new boy – let’s call him Iain (not his real name). We had a blast, skidding down the steep slope. Afterwards we watched cartoons together.
Later, in high school, we went to the same church group. Soon after leaving school he killed himself.
Why mention this? Because you probably know an Iain. A guy who always seemed like he was the life and soul of the party until the day you found out something had been wrong. Most of us know at least one Iain. Maybe more.
The reality is these are inconvenient truths that the media don’t want to report on and politicians can’t stomach. The article in the Telegraph only has 2 comments (at the time of writing). If any other group had been consistently left behind for a whole decade, what would be the reaction? National outrage?
Or does the educational establishment have its hands over its ears while shouting ‘LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU’?
This is the same story as shared by education magazine TES
Why is that? Are illiterate boys easier to control? Does society want to see the ‘Huffington Post Board’ type diversity that rightly backfired and brought widespread criticism.
If boys can’t read, write, understand science, maths or even music very well then at least they won’t be stealing other people’s jobs. Or think critically when given media ‘facts’.
When does an oversight become a conspiracy theory? When no one in power is willing to talk about it, change or do anything to improve the plight of white, working class boys? Boys not only missed the gravy train, they haven’t even made it to the station.
The Lost Generation: What now?
Where do we go from here? On the streets to protest? To our government to ask questions?
Or we, as men, could take personal responsibility for our sons’ education and mental well being.
What do I mean? Can you read to your son more? Does he see you read? How do you value education and critical thought?
Will he learn these things from you? Because his chances of learning it at school aren’t great. If you don’t teach him, who will?