* Cheers and boos

Cheers for our young Hercules, who started the week off on an especially good note. His PRIDE report was all 4s and 5s. His teacher printed out a special congratulatory note for his great work during writing time. Go Hercules!

Over dinner last night I asked Hercules what he wrote about, and he described to me his "Get-Up Machine." It's a complex Rube Goldberg-like contraption that is designed to wake him up in the morning. Pretty clever, eh? So we heaped the praise on him and hopefully that will encourage him to write more.

This morning he was very groggy and listless and complaining that his throat hurt. I took his temperature and he was fine, so I sent him to school. It's always tempting to keep him home and take a day off from work, but I really need to reserve my sick time for those days when he's really very sick.

I've been reading about a new trend regarding education which is concerned with the achievement gap between boys and girls. Apparently, a lot of people are alarmed by the fact the boys are falling behind girls rather dramatically. While that may be a valid problem, they believe the blame lies in the "feminization of our schools." I'm not buying it.

As one male high school student so eloquently stated, "All the books are, like, girl books." Hmmm. I'm willing to bet the majority of those "girl books" were written by men, back in the old days when men were taught to value scholarly aptitude and articulate conversation.

As the mother of a boy who is struggling in school, it's obvious to me that schools are not typically structured to accommodate children with special needs, and obviously not all boys, nor only boys, have special needs. At the same time, however, I'm pretty sure that dumbing down the curriculum to make sure boys aren't held back isn't doing them any favors, either. Sure, the system should be more flexible in its teaching methods because some kids just learn differently than others, regardless of their gender. But assuming that boys are being oppressed by our "feminized" schools is just silly. And letting boys slide through school with lower expectations is insulting to boys everywhere. My Hercules is all about action and violence, much to my chagrin. And yet he's quite capable of enjoying such "feminine" entertainment as The Little Mermaid, Junie B. Jones books, and Pippi Longstocking. Well, maybe those aren't the best examples of femininity, but the point is that I intend to expose him to a broad range of literature, art, and films (like the Triplets of Belleville and Animal Farm) because I believe in his ability to appreciate more than just GI Joe.

In my opinion, if society really wants to do boys a favor, we could turn off our collective TVs, throw away the video games, and let them run around outdoors and explore their world at every opportunity. That way, when it comes time to sit down and focus on a more intellectual activity, they'll be able to handle it. And don't even get me started on the horrible role models that our culture expects boys to emulate as "cool." Sports are cool, reading books is not. Soldiers are cool, art is for fags. Frat parties are cool, scholars are nerds. According to MTV and reality shows, it's much more cool for boys to act macho, grope and harass half-naked girls, get stupid drunk, drive fast, punch people that aren't like you, and shoot guns. And we wonder why boys can't be bothered to read books anymore? But it's so much easier to blame the feminists. Yeah.

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