Monday, June 12, 2006

What Did You Read At School?

David Brooks thinks that if only boys were given less gushy and emotional books to read they'd soon start doing so well at school:

Young boys are compelled to sit still in schools that have sacrificed recess for test prep. Many are told in a thousand subtle ways they are not really good students. They are sent home with these new-wave young adult problem novels, which all seem to be about introspectively morose young women whose parents are either suicidal drug addicts or fatally ill manic depressives.

It shouldn't be any surprise that according to a National Endowment for the Arts study, the percentage of young men who read has plummeted over the past 14 years. Reading rates are falling three times as fast among young men as among young women. Nor should it be a surprise that men are drifting away from occupations that involve reading and school. Men now make up a smaller share of teachers than at any time in the past 40 years.

Linda Hirshman has a good take on Brooks's article here, so let me just point out that it's not correct to assume that the small number of men in teaching is caused by the books boys read at school. I might as well argue that the small number of men in teaching is caused by the new red BMW the neighborhood stockbroker drives, and I'd be closer to the mark.

So Brooks argues that the books assigned at school are gooey yucky girl stuff. What were you assigned to read at school?