I haven't had the time to go all the way through the carnival yet, but there is one post in particular I have seen that I wanted to point out in particular. From the Not Quite Crunchy Parent, we have a post entitled Today Class We Will Draw An "Action-Life"-Encouraging Drawing In Boys. Now, my son is still very young, so it will be a while before this kind of thing becomes of immediate importance for us; nevertheless, we want to be prepared for when it happens. The fact is, boys and girls often do have different interests and aptitudes. There is a strain of thought that gender is a social construct--that is, the only differences between boys and girls come about because of the way they are socialized. This line of reasoning, if taken to its logical extreme and applied to educational environments, can lead to boys being required to read Judy Blume, to write sonnets, and to paint floral still lifes.
Not that there's anything wrong with that....
While every child is an individual, and there are certainly exceptions to every generalization, it is
nevertheless usually the case that boys are more interested in non-fiction, in adventure stories, and legendary stories of great heroes doing great things; and they tend to be less interested in stories involving the exploration of emotions, and the expression thereof. If you want to get a boy to read, and--more importantly--to instill a love of reading in him, you're probably better off giving him Ray Bradbury or Robert A. Heinlein than Jane Austen or Emily Brontë. And note that this has nothing to do with the relative literary merits of those authors--it's entirely a matter of differing interests.
The Not Quite Crunchy Parent makes a similar point about introducing boys to art. To lift one of the quotes she uses:
Under Sax’s leadership, teachers learn to say things like, “Damien, take your green crayon and draw some sparks and take your black crayon and draw some black lines coming out from the back of the vehicle, to make it look like it’s going faster.” “Now Damien feels encouraged,” … “To say: ‘Why don’t you use more colors? Why don’t you put someone in the vehicle?’ is as discouraging (to a boy) as if you say to Emily, ‘Well, this is nice, but why don’t you have one of them kick the other one — give us some action.’ ”Bearing this in mind, here's a question. And I do not just intend this as a rhetorical question, since I did a few things like this in Junior High. How would a typical art teacher today respond to boys in class who draw--or sculpt--militaristic scenes? Knights in armor dismembering each other, Beowulf pulling off Grendel's arm, Blue army blowing up Red army, that sort of thing? My own art teacher didn't mind, but that was early '80's, and the Junior High was located on the grounds of Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota. What kinds of things would happen in schools today if someone did this sort of thing?
Anyway, it's food for thought. Check it out.