22.1.04

IT'S A GUY THING, YOU WOULDN'T UNDERSTAND. Newmark's Door finds a Dave Barry column subtitled "Problem solving, guy style." It's all in fun, but there is a serious point. I have taken some heat for insisting that the term "gender" be expanded to include the option, "Non-Quiche-Eating Real Guy." Want some more anecdotal evidence? (Of course you do, that's why you're reading this, nicht wahr?) Last night I caught the first spring semester recital by the Vermeer Quartet. At intermission I was chatting with a colleague from my department, and her husband, and another colleague from another department, and his wife, and I made a comment about the Vermeer being good for the university even if the BCS was not, and everybody else reacted, Huh??

Even more seriously, Number 2 Pencil and King of Fools react to a Marshall Poe essay in the latest Atlantic noting a growing educational achievement gap between boys and girls. (Boys' test scores may have historically exceeded girls' test scores on average as the less academically inclined boys selected out of writing the College Boards.)

One point in the article is worth further commentary:
But boys' educational stagnation has long-term economic implications. Not even half the boys in the country are taking advantage of the opportunity to go to college, which has become almost a prerequisite for a middle-class lifestyle. And languishing academic attainment among a large portion of our population spells trouble for the prospects of continued economic growth. Unless more boys begin attending college, the nation may face a shortage of highly skilled workers in the coming decades.
Perhaps the recruitment of more male teachers, or the provision of a less-girly curriculum, or a reluctance to treat high-energy behavior as something to be medicated away will help. It's also worth considering that highly-skilled is not equivalent to college-educated in many cases (start here, look here, and play this golden oldie for details) and the decision of schools to offer fewer shop and other skilled trade classes will only have the effect of raising the incomes of those relatively few people who discover those opportunities.

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