Boys will be boys . . . without jobs.

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Boys are animals.  Plain and simple.  Anyone who believes otherwise has clearly never worked with the teenage variety of the so-called male species, nor seen them in their “raw” form.  What’s fascinating to me, though, is that these animals are experiencing what many might call a crisis: Boys are failing academically at a growing rate — an alarming rate. 

The spark of my current concern, however, was struck by this article on male apathy with voting.  The New York Times article outlines research on male testosterone levels with voting.  Researchers from the University of Michigan and Duke University analyzed the saliva of 150 voters during the 2008 presidential election.  What they found was that males who voted for the losing candidate had a surprising drop in testosterone — one that researchers think are associated with literally feeling the loss themselves. 

The New York Times article discusses how female voters outnumber males at increasing levels, which may be a result of males not wanting to feel like “losers” based on their choices.  While this idea is concerning, I think we are speaking about an issue that challenges males on many levels: Males may not be equipped to “lose” in today’s increasingly competitive society. 

Let’s take the classroom for an instance.  In my English classes, a large majority of students who are failing are males.  Fact: Among 55 students, males are three times more likely to not be passing.  In fact, 33% of my males are currently struggling, compared to 11% of females.  Now, many will point to the classroom structure in general as a cause of male struggles: the insistence on “calmer” behaviors, an emphasis on reading fiction, and little opportunity for kinesthetic responses.  This all may be true; but, what if males are just too scared to risk failure?  What if males do not want to link their academic struggles with their ego?  What if a failing grade literally drops a male’s testosterone, thus motivating him to not take the risk?  

If males take a voting loss as a direct hit to their ego, what about the things they actually give direct effort on, such as school?  There could be more to the “male problem” than we thought.  The question should now be, how do we help boys fail less and still learn how to let failures lead to successes?

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. chasemielke says:

    I agree with you that boys often have a difficult time with competition, especially if they could potentially lose. However, I don’t think that testosterone issues are really the major problem. I think that a lot of boys are just too rambunctious and energetic for classrooms. In my experience, boys love to do hands-on things which aren’t always easy to do in a typical class. For example, in English, how often do students get a chance to solve problems with their hands? They mainly have to read or write which are not very physical movements. THAT is the main problem. Do you agree?

  2. jakemlisak says:

    Personally, I think that this is a very interesting take on both male voter apathy, as well as English scores. While I believe that the social structure on our society may be a bigger reason for the loss in testosterone when faced with a loss, this article does leave the reader with a lot to consider. for one, in which ways does society put males under pressure to be winners in every situation. Secondly, is it just a matter of how the male brain works that makes men take losses, voting or otherwise more personally? I for one believe this is a result of social pressures rather than physiological pressures. What are your thoughts?

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