I just came across this column written by the NYT's David Brooks earlier this month. In it he speculates about how Henry V would have suffered in today's school system, because the "official school culture is for wimps and softies." There would be no place for a "rambunctious" boy who might get bored easily, wrestle Falstaff and jump off the jungle gym. He would soon be disengaged, and ultimately rebellious, joining the ranks of boys who are underperforming in school. And here is Brook's most damning assertion:
"The education system has become culturally cohesive, rewarding and encourages a certain sort of person: one who is nurturing, collaborative, disciplined, neat, studious, industrious and ambitious."
Oh, man - where to start? First - codewords. He is saying that schools favor girls, and doing so, rearguing the old 90's "boy crisis" literature. Second - why do men always have to go to ancient and often fictional characters to make their points? Most use Greek mythology, but pulling someone from the 15th century and sticking him a 21st century school is also ridiculous. (Of course those were the good old days, when women didn't get educations.) Third, schools were once far LESS tolerant of any kind of disobedience and "rambunctious" behavior, and boys thrived.
Boys suffer far more from a culture that encourages them to be tough, fight and that celebrates slackers than they do from any kind of nurturing environment in school. Brooks points to a problem we've known about for decades, but basically comes up with the same old explanation: the problem with boys is....girls.