Friday, July 05, 2002

Girls and boys at school
Hilde writes about the fact that the boys are falling behind, and there's speculation that this is due to boys being discriminated against.

In a way that is what is happening. Society is changing into a place where the early development and better physical control of women is becoming an advantage over men. The school system rewards and nurtures students who are able to sit still and concentrate - something boys are physically less able to do than the girls. This wasn't really a problem earlier, as boys could choose different careers, careers which depended on their physical strength, endurance and manual skills, with teaching in the apprenticeship system which involved more parts of the body in the learning process than ears and eyes. Today even becoming a carpenter involves sitting still and listening for long, endless hours.

As a result, more and more boys are registered as having learning disabilities. They need special attention, special resources in order to keep up, or the teachers just give up on them and consider them stupid.

I don't think this is a result of the women's movement going too far.. I rather suspect that a lot of the success of women over the last 50 years is tied closely to this development of a need for different skills and abilities: a development which leaves men at a disadvantage because they are men, just as women were at a disadvantage in a society where brute strength and not bearing children was important to maintain health and gain status.

What we need isn't as much a men's movement as a human's movement: someone to see to it that all men and women have equal opportunities according to their abilities. But that will take quite a bit of redefinition of what's important in our society, and how to reach those goals. Until then, the struggle of conflicting interests is the best way to get anywhere towards a society where all have the same chances. I think.

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