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Why Boys Fail (11 Edition)by Richard WHITMIRE
Synopses & ReviewsPlease note that used books may not include additional media (study guides, CDs, DVDs, solutions manuals, etc.) as described in the publisher comments.
Parents and educators have seen it for years: elementary schools swarming with fidgety boys who hold their pencils funny. But what they don’t see is that in recent years, the lackluster performance of boys often fails to improve with maturity.
Boys are in trouble. However you slice the numbers—fifth-graders in special ed, ninth-graders held back, low senior grade point averages, high school dropouts, fewer college graduates—boys are performing far below girls. And they’re performing far below the expectations of today’s marketplace, where more and more jobs require college degrees.
Why Boys Fail is a sweeping survey of one of the most misunderstood and sometimes totally ignored problems of our day—the precipitous slide in boys’ academic achievement, which cuts across racial and economic divides and affects boys around the English-speaking world. Richard Whitmire draws on extensive journalistic skill and experience to pick apart the prevailing theories of what is causing boys to fail—feminized classrooms, toxic boy cultures, mind-numbing video games—and shows how each contributes to the problem but fails to wholly explain it.
Instead, the author reverses course from the usual finger-pointing to uncover what is actually working in schools to bring boys up to speed, and draws his conclusions from there. The answer is simple yet monumental: the world has become increasingly verbal, but boys have not. From heightened kindergarten reading expectations to language-dense math problems, many boys lack the reading and writing skills needed to keep pace. Their lagging literacy skills snowball through the school years and ultimately derail ambitions and prospects.
Why Boys Fail is not simply a depressing assessment of the fate of our nation’s boys; it also offers suggestions for what works. Packed with inspiring case studies of schools that have successfully implemented programs for improving literacy—such as intensive phonics instruction and ongoing reading instruction in the middle years—this extensively researched, persuasive book is a must-read for parents and educators alike. It opens your eyes to the magnitude of boys’ academic underachievement and uncovers effective solutions to countering this deeply troubling and widely misunderstood problem.
Richard Whitmire is a former editorial writer for USA Today who served two years as President of the National Educational Writers Association. A highly recognized and respected education reporter, his commentaries have been published in the New Republic, U.S. News, 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 lives in Arlington, Virginia.
Selected as one of the Top 5 Educational Books by Literacy News
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 polarizing 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.
It’s no longer a case of “boys being boys.” By every statistical measure, boys are falling steadily and alarmingly behind in school. Why Boys Fail draws on a wealth of data, interviews, case studies, and clearheaded analysis to both document the problem and uncover the real culprit driving the academic slide of boys: they just don’t have the reading and writing skills needed to keep up. And the book shares some good news in the form of schools that are getting it right by implementing practical strategies and programs for boosting literacy among the entire student body—boys and girls alike.
Advance Praise for Why Boys Fail :
“Richard Whitmire writes a compelling book about a real issue in our schools—too many boys falling behind and never catching up. He understands the need for accountability, and his practical solutions will help us achieve our promise to leave no child behind—including our boys.” — Former U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings
“A spectacularly comprehensive and nonjudgmental look at why our boys really are in trouble, with a thoughtful and positive call to action. This is the book that every parent, teacher, and legislator should read—right now.” — Jon Scieszka, National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature
“With his reporter’s eye for careful investigation and his characteristic penchant for tough-minded analysis, Whitmire not only breaks down the problem, but also offers up thoughtful solutions. For those who care about results, and are willing to challenge their own ideological predispositions, this is an important read.” — Joel Klein, New York City Schools Chancellor
“Ask any teacher: boys learn differently from girls and often struggle in the classroom. Richard Whitmire, one of our nation’s most thoughtful journalists, dug deeply into this topic and has unearthed clues that will help us better serve male learners in particular and all students in general.” — Nancy S. Grasmick, Maryland State Superintendent of Schools
“A brilliant new book....I don't know of a clearer or more balanced examination of this issue...recommendations at the end of the book are sensible, creative, and overdue.” — Washington Post
Fifth graders in special ed, ninth graders retained, high school dropouts, college graduates—however you slice the numbers, they don’t look good for boys, who are performing far below girls across the socioeconomic spectrum. What’s driving their academic decline?
Richard Whitmire picks apart the prevailing theories as to what’s happening and pinpoints the real reason why: Classrooms have grown increasingly verbal, but boys have not. From heightened kindergarten reading expectations to language-dense math problems, many boys lack the reading and writing skills needed to keep pace.
Why Boys Fail supplies data, interviews, case studies, and clearheaded analysis to both document this widely misunderstood problem and uncover schools that are getting it right by boosting literacy among the entire student body. This is eye-opening reading for parents and educators alike.
Richard Whitmire is a former editorial writer for USA Today and president of the National Educational Writers Association. A highly recognized and respected education reporter, his commentaries have been published in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The New Republic, and U.S. News & World Report. He is the author of The Bee Eater: Michelle Rhee Takes on the Nation’s Worst School District.
About the Author
RICHARD WHITMIRE is a former editorial writer for USA Today and President of the National Educational Writers Association. A highly recognized 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.
Table of Contents
Introduction to the Paperback Edition 1
1 Discovering the Problem 13
2 The Reason for the Boy Troubles: Faltering Literacy Skills 27
3 The Likely Causes of the Reading Lapses 39
4 The Writing Failures 63
5 The Blame Game: What Gets Blamed (Unfairly) for the Gender Gaps 79
6 Solutions: What Works for Boys? 107
7 Impediments to a Solution: The Ideological Stalemate 135
8 The International Story: Australians Struggle with the Boy Troubles 151
9 Why These Gender Gaps Matter 163
10 Actions That Need to Be Taken 181
Appendix: The Facts About Boys 211
About the Author 239
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