Differences, that is. On “Need to Know” this week, Jay and I talk with Christina Hoff Sommers about her important New York Times piece “The Boys at the Back.” We examine the alarming data about boys lagging behind girls in school at every level, from kindergarten through grad school. The gals are taking the more challenging courses, garnering 60 percent of college degrees, and are about to outstrip men in the number of Ph.D.s earned.
Sommers offers other alarming statistics as well. We venture into forbidden areas — like innate differences between the sexes (it’s called “essentialism” don’t you know), the benefits of single-sex schooling for some kids, and the feminization of American classrooms over the past several decades. These trends, along with pervasive fatherlessness, have yielded a genuine boy crisis.
And, strident feminists to the contrary notwithstanding, a crisis for boys is a crisis for all. Sommers proposes some common sense reforms for a start. But will the dominant culture tolerate a full court press for boys’ academic development in the same spirit that it embraced the push for girls’ improvement in math and science?