The Myth of ‘The Boy Crisis’
By Caryl Rivers and Rosalind Chait Barnett
Sunday, April 9, 2006; B01
It was the early 1900s, and boys were supposedly in crisis. In monthly magazines, ladies’ journals and books, urgent polemics appeared, warning that young men were spending too much time in school with female teachers and that the constant interaction with women was robbing them of their manhood. In Congress, Sen. Albert Beveridge of Indiana railed against overeducation. He urged young men to “avoid books and in fact avoid all artificial learning, for the forefathers put America on the right path by learning completely from natural experience.”
What boys needed, the experts said, was time outdoors, rubbing elbows with one another and learning from male role models. That’s what led—at least in part—to the founding of the Boy Scouts in 1910.
Now the cry has been raised again: We’re losing our boys. The media have been hyping America’s new “boy crisis” in magazine cover stories, a PBS documentary and countless newspaper articles. Boys, these reports lament, are falling behind in academic achievement, graduating from high school at lower rates than girls, occupying fewer seats in college classrooms, displaying poorer verbal skills.