Thursday, February 7, 2008

Boys Adrift

Boys Adrift, by Leonard Sax, M.D., Ph.D.
$16.50 at Amazon.com
ISBN: 0465072097
Before I begin, let me take a moment to say that Hans has no qualifications as a psychologist, and is therefore not really suitable to judge whether or not the views expressed in a book like this are valid.
In fact, I'm usually extremely suspicious of psychology. Nonetheless, this book makes a lot of sense to me, so I decided to mention it here. It comes from the "Parenting" section of the bookstore. The subject is the growing epidemic of unmotivated boys and underachieving young men.
Sax lists five factors in the environment which discourage boys from achieving their full potential. As a former boy myself, I could see 
where Dr. Sax was coming from.
Many people claim that boys are experiencing a crisis in terms of their success rates in school and the real world. 
Video games are sited as a major factor. Now I love a good round of HALO as much as the next guy, but it seems like kids just don't play outside any more. In fact, there's a big soccer field right near my house that's virtually deserted all the time.
Likewise, boys don't seem to care whether they succeed or fail in school. In fact, many of them hate school and think it's a waste of 
time. 
Sax claims this is because of fundamental flaws in the way the American education system chooses to educate boys. Many schools have adopted "zero-tolerance" policies for violence, which suppresses a male's natural impulse to compete. Writing stories that feature violence, and even competitive sports like dodgeball have been banned for being too violent.
Of course, many kids have also been diagnosed with ADHD and prescribed medications because they're too rambunctious. Dr. Sax points out that boys are supposed to be rambunctious: they like to push each other down, and want to get cut up a little bit. Is drugging America's kids to make them more sedate the answer?
This book really got me reflecting on my own boyhood, and for this reason I'd recommend it to  anyone who'd like a better understanding of the male gender.
Men and boys have more genes in common with male chimpanzees than they do with women. No gender is "better" than the other, but they are different. Boys Adrift will help you understand the inner workings of a man's mind, and perhaps help set the boy in your life on the right direction. The author has outstanding credentials, and his observations are interesting and insightful. First class work!

2 comments:

steve said...

male genes have more in common with male chimps than with human women? Surely that CAN'T be true! Amazing ...

Anonymous said...

I actually see this from a different perspective- as a Criminologist. A social Science rather than the medical perspective. Daily I see the suites filled by young men waiting to see the "Lawyer", the "Social Worker", the "Psychologist", the "Judge", the "Matriarch" hardly ever the "Patriarch".

Fathers are absent from their families and providing good role models for their Sons. Perhaps the reading of, "The Mermaid and the Minotaur" by Dorthy Dinnerstein, ISBN 0-06-090587-5 offers another perspective...from Ancient Times. The Greeks were excellent observers of Human Nature. We call their written works the "Classics" for a reason.