Why Boys Fail
Saving Our Sons from an Educational System That's Leaving Them Behind.
The signs and statistics are undeniable: boys are falling behind in school. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the biggest culprits are not video games, pop culture, or female-dominated schools biased toward girls. The real problem is that boys have been thrust into a bewildering new school environment that demands high-level reading and writing skills long before they are capable of handling them.
Lacking the ability to compete, boys fall farther and farther behind. Eventually, the problem gets pushed into college, where close to 60% of the graduates are women. In a time when even cops, construction foremen, and machine operators need post-high school degrees, that's a problem.
Why Boys Fail takes a hard look at how this ominous reality came to be, how it has worsened in recent years, and why attempts to resolve it often devolve into finger-pointing and polarising politics.
But the book also shares some good news. Amidst the alarming proof of failure among boys-around the world-there are also inspiring case studies of schools where something is going right. Each has come up with realistic ways to make sure that every student-male and female-has the tools to succeed in school and later in life.
Educators and parents alike will take heart in these promising developments, and heed the book's call to action-not only to demand solutions but also to help create them for their own students and children. Richard Whitmire
is a former editorial writer for USA Today and President of the National Educational Writers Association. A highly recognised and respected education reporter, his commentaries have been published in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The New Republic, U.S. News & World Report, Politico, Washington Monthly, Chronicle of Higher Education, and Education Week. He also appeared on National Public Radio's Morning Edition to discuss boy troubles. He is the author of The Bee Eater: Michelle Rhee Takes on the Nation's Worst School District.
Why Boys Fail
Author: Richard Whitmire
Interview with Richard WhitmireQuestion:
What inspired you to write Why Boys Fail?Richard Whitmire
: I looked around and saw that the conventional wisdom -- that girls were being held back in schools -- was wrong. Boys, not girls, were disengaging from school. I could see it in my own extended family, in our neighborhood schools and the national data, especially college enrollment and graduation. The key 'mystery' became: Why are they disengaging? Question:
Can you explain the real reason boys are falling behind in school? Richard Whitmire
: In my book I sift through the usual suspects -- video games, rap music, too many female teachers -- and, for the most part, dismiss those as minor players. What has happened is schools everywhere have pushed literacy skills deeper into the lower grades, so that kindergartners, for example, are now asked to handle the reading and writing skills that twenty five years ago were presented to second graders. Girls, who develop literacy skills earlier than boys, handled this shift with ease. Boys, by contract, get frustrated, see that girls are succeeding where they fail, and conclude that school is for girls. Thus the disengagement. Question:
Why has this worsened in recent years? Richard Whitmire
: The college prep curriculum, which starts in the earliest grades, has become more intensive. I'm not saying that educators are wrong in intensifying the curriculum, including reading and writing skills in the early grades. But they were wrong to assume they could do that without adjusting their methods to accommodate boys. Question:
How can parents prevent their sons falling behind in school?Richard Whitmire
: Stay on top of the reading and writing skills. Find lots of boy-friendly books. And most of all, don't believe teachers who try to reassure you about your struggling son, saying that boys always catch up and that it's okay to allow him to focus on sports. These days, a lot of boys aren't catching up.
Interview by Brooke HunterBuy it now at