No Crisis For These Boys

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Everyone should find something they love doing.  Then work isn’t work.  It’s a part of themselves.  Of who they are. ”  – Paul McAuley, The Quiet War. 

As I established in a previous blog post, The Gender Gap in Education, girls are now outperforming boys in almost every subject from elementary school to postgraduate level and they significantly outnumber boys in university enrolment in most western countries.  Many people have been alarmed by these facts and have concluded that boys are in crisis.  Much has been written about this supposed boys’ crisis.  Some say it exists and others deny its existence.  Those who reject its existence often cite socio-economic factors and varying beliefs related to gender stereotypes and ideology as the real reasons for the decline in boys’ performance.  Middle-class and upper-class boys are still doing relatively well.  Some educational researchers argue that there are more differences in educational attainment levels among boys themselves, than there are among boys taken as a group, and girls taken as an opposing group.

The mere recognition that girls get superior grades at school and now outnumber boys at university level, does not give us sufficient reason to conclude that most boys are in crisis.  While we want to see a greater proportion of boys opt for 3 or 4 year university degrees, the reality is that more and more boys who are eligible for admission into universities, are opting to avoid university and pursue 2 year associate degrees at community colleges, or short technical and vocational competence-based certificate or diploma courses at polytechnics instead.  There is no crisis for these boys.

These boys have chosen to master various areas of technical and vocational education and training ( TVET ).  They realize that they can earn more money and have greater job security than many of their friends who choose to pursue academic degrees at university.  These technically oriented boys offer services such as photography, culinary arts, plumbing, electrical installation, automobile repairs, air-conditioning and refrigeration, carpentry, masonry, tiling, reselling, freighting, landscaping, farming, graphic design, I.T. services, website design, and jewellery-making, just to name a few.  These skills are directly work-related and are eagerly sought by many established companies.

Many of these boys or young men choose to become entrepreneurs and start their own businesses.  They employ other young people and boost the national economy.  Self-employment is their goal.  This is in stark contrast to students graduating from traditional universities, who generally become job seekers within contracting and ailing national economies.  The technical and vocational services mentioned above depend on individual knowledge and skills and often use online marketing and advertising to reach their clients.

Anecdotal and empirical evidence shows that more and more boys are opting for technical and vocational education and training (TVET ) rather than academic education.  Ideally, there can be a happy combination of the two approaches because they can complement each other.  In North America and Europe there are many School-to-Work programmes and in the Anglophone Caribbean we have our NVQs ( National Vocational Qualifications ) and CVQs (Caribbean Vocational Qualifications ) which are compliant with industrial standards.  It would be instructive to quantify statistically the proportion of boys who now prefer to go the TVET and work route rather than enter academic universities.  However, there is no crisis for these boys. More and more boys are also choosing to work in non-traditional areas such as professional sports and various sections of the music industry.


4 thoughts on “No Crisis For These Boys

  1. Dog it. That would be good if those “so many boys and men could have a place” but, —-
    I feel the problem is many boys and men are not able to handle the college work today. It is not genetic or from lack of effort, but a very real different treatment from infancy that is creating very real lags in academic growth. While that is nice that some boys and men are finding such places for jobs, the jobs are not paying as well and not as consistent in many areas given the numbers. That job market will sustain the many boys and men who are not making it to a two year or four year college for information age skills. I wish it could work, but the numbers are not good in changing pay by gender today.
    The belief boys should be strong allows more aggressive treatment as early as one year of age. This is increased over time by parents, teachers, and peers. Boys are also ‘not given” kind, stable, verbal interaction and other mental/emotional/social supports for fear of coddling. This treatment is creating real higher average stress more correctly defined as many layers of mental work from past, present, future experiences, fears preparations for defense, worries, a host of mental work. This is also creating more social/emotional distance from adults/teachers, less positive communication skills, low social vocabulary, more activity for stress relief (not genetic), that hurt academics for many Males. They are also given love and honor only on condition of some achievement, status, image, etc. Those boys not achieving in school are given more ridicule and discipline to make them try harder. This is sending many boys and men to more outside areas of enjoyment and escape
    As girls, we re receiving much better, more correct treatment from infancy through adulthood. This is creating in time, a very real opposite outcome for us. We enjoy lower average stress, high social vocabulary, much better communication, support, trust from parents, teachers, and peers. This is creating much more ease of learning that accumulates in many wonderful, information age skills over time. It is sad that many girls and women today now feel superior while many good boys and men feel inferior. Both sides have no idea how differential treatment from infancy is causing it all.


    • There is a lot of truth in what you say about the unequal treatment of boys and girls, which places girls at an academic and developmental advantage. While it is true that some boys cannot compete with their female peers, it is also true that more and more boys are choosing technical and vocational education. They take less time to get their diplomas and degrees and often they do not have fixed salaries. They can work overtime and their skills bring many clients to them even in their spare time. In fact many of them work for more money than their counterparts with traditional 3 or 4 year degrees who are on fixed salaries.


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