Sunday, May 08, 2005


So much for all the brainwashing. Leftist teachers have not succeeded in repealing the laws of nature yet

Ever since the "crisis" in boys' education became apparent, experts have suggested dozens of ways to improve the situation. From more male teachers to more hands-on learning, from more structured programs to more physical activity for burning off male energy, there has been no shortage of ideas. But rarely do politicians, educators or parents come to grips with what ails so many boys - the terror of being called a nerd, a geek or, worst of all, gay. What the NSW Education Department had in mind when it produced 10,000 booklets to address the boys' education crisis, we may never know. The Herald reported this week that the Making a Difference booklets, produced in 2002 and designed to promote a "boys can do anything" agenda, have never been released after the department got cold feet.

Many say there is no crisis for boys, and that, far from being the "new disadvantaged", boys are as likely as ever to end up running the world. After two decades of girls' success at school, men still dominate the higher echelons of business, the professions and politics. In the long run, it doesn't seem to matter that slightly more boys than girls fail to attain literacy benchmarks in years 3 and 5. It doesn't seem to disadvantage boys that their retention rate to year 12 is 11 per cent lower than girls'. Girls might achieve higher average marks in most year 12 subjects, but boys still outperform them when they leave school. Seven years after year 12, boys are more likely to be in full-time jobs or training programs, according to a study by the Australian Council for Educational Research. And girls who leave school before year 12 are more likely to be unemployed than boys who drop out.

For these reasons, many say the focus on boys' disadvantage is all wrong - the real concern should be the waste of female talent once girls leave education. And they have a point. But we cannot ignore the plight of many boys who are failing. There is a crisis in boys' schooling that needs to be addressed - but it is not the crisis usually talked about. This crisis becomes apparent only when you ask boys about their experiences at school, which is what researchers Wayne Martino and Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli have done. They also asked girls, many of whom are having a hard time, too. But the boys' accounts are the most illuminating and shocking. In all, 900 students aged 14-16 from six schools - including Catholic co-educational, elite single-sex, and rural comprehensive schools - wrote anonymously for the authors. Excerpts have been gathered in a new book, Being Normal is the Only Way (UNSW Press).

Boys write of the relentless, cruel pressure to conform to a male stereotype and to belong to an "in" group. Unless boys are cool, macho, or sporty, their lives can be hell. "What issues do boys have to face?" writes a 16-year-old from a Catholic school. "Not looking like a fairy . not being too dumb . not being too smart . every pressure available . fitting in the right groups." A 15-year-old writes: "At school, guys can be like dogs and sniff you out fast." Says another: "If you're fat and a spastic you're doomed to eternal rejection." Another writes: "If you don't act macho you get given crap." On and on it goes. Smart boys can be popular provided they are not "four-eyed nerds" and that they compensate through sporting success.

Homophobia is rife. A boy is called "gay" because of his involvement in singing. A boy in the ascendant group writes: "The only problem we have to deal with is wondering if there are any gay people in the school." And another: "Being a guy means you have to watch out for homosexuals." Some male teachers are complicit in the homophobia, ingratiating themselves with the "cool" boys. In some schools, boys who show enthusiasm for learning are tagged geeks, nerds, wusses and fags, says Dr Pallotta-Chiarolli.

More here


A dance teacher working for a public school district was terminated from her job after a complaint that she used religious music in her instruction. The complaint came from a school district staff member who alleged that the music referenced Jesus several times. In addition to secular music on the day in question, the instructor used a rendition of Dona Nobis Pachem and O Si Funi Mungu. Dona Nobis Pachem is a classical piece by J.S. Bach and is sung in Latin. O Si Funi Mungu, which is translated as "Praise God," is sung in Swahili, though it has some English interspersed.

Although the instructor uses a wide variety of music in her teaching, she is careful to use music that is family friendly. Moreover, the teacher offered to further expand her already diverse repertoire. Despite these reasonable steps, school officials refused to provide a resolution and terminated her contract. "It is clearly constitutional and legal for a teacher to use both religious and secular music as a part of instruction," commented Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute.

California law allows instructors to use references to religion while teaching and specifically includes dance instruction. "Although the lyrics in this case are in foreign languages and apparently do not use the name Jesus, it is not unlawful to make such a reference," stated Kevin Snider, Chief Counsel for the Pacific Justice Institute. "It would be inconceivable to have an outright ban on the utterance of the name Jesus in the public schools when such a reference is necessary in history, literature and the arts," Snider explained.

Pacific Justice Institute has taken this teacher's case and is representing her in the dispute with the school district. PJI is willing to provide legal assistance at no cost to any public school teacher who uses a religious reference in the many subjects in which such references are appropriate.


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