It’s because so many women high school teachers can’t inspire boys and downgrade them
I have attached a video to this column that was made by
Stuart Wachowicz, former director of curriculum for the Edmonton Public Schools. It is of vital interest to any parent who has a son or sons in the school system. Mr. Wachowicz is a man of extraordinary common sense for an education bureaucrat which probably explains why he no longer is one.
His message is straight forward. The reason that university enrollments are now running at sixty-six percent female is that the public school system right across the western world is so heavily biased against males that most young men are effectually doomed to an inferior status. Such a charge may sound preposterous, but Mr. Wachowicz, with the help of another former executive in the Edmonton system, proves it conclusively.
I won’t tell you any more. See the video yourself (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qloY4OJxBoQ).
But I could add a few touches to it. In my 18 years with the St. John’s schools, I taught two or three hundred students at the junior and senior high school levels. All but one was a male for they were boys’ schools. The exception was my own daughter, whom I tutored for a year. That alone was enough to raise the suspicion that the two halves of our species are very different, particularly in the mid-teen years, and they therefore call for very different educational methods.
But I had already experienced something of this many years before. Courcelette Road School in Toronto’s Scarborough suburb ran from Grade 1 to Grade 8. It had — six women who taught Grades 1 through 6, and two men: Mt. Ralph in Grades 7 and in Grade 8 Mr. Perkins who was also the school principal. Up to Grade 6, the classroom atmosphere, as I recall it, was in the main secure and joyous. But one looked forward to Grades 7 and 8 with fear and trepidation. You were forewarned. Mr. Ralph was a short, stocky man who at the beginning of the year used the strap a lot. The atmosphere in his class was definitely not joyous, but it was certainly focussed. You listened; you worked; and you did not fool around. In Grades 5 and 6, the boys had been somewhat disruptive. This ended abruptly with Mr. Ralph.
There was worse to come with Mr. Perkins. In our still-young eyes. he was about nine feet tall and must have weighed maybe 400 or 500 pounds, all muscle. Mr. Perkins hardly used the strap at all. He had simply to look at you and trembling began. He taught everything well, but he was especially fond of English grammar. By the end of Grade 8, most us could parse every word in a 50-word sentence we’d never seen before that included a noun clause, and adverb clause and an adjective phrase, plus maybe an interjection and with at least one verb in the subjunctive.
“And of what earthly use would that be?” asks the modern educator. Well it’s use to me was that I fell deeply in love with the English language. It has become a life-long affair. I have made a living using it for most of my 89 years, and still want to weep when I see a really well-turned-out sentence. What a powerhouse we’ve been given. So thank you very much, Mr. Perkins.
Yes, insists the critic, but what does your story have to do with gender discrimination in modern schools? Only this: I don’t remember a single instance at Courcelette Road School where a girl was strapped. Maybe it happened, but I have no memory of it. I did hear of one incident, however, in which a teacher told a young girl how disappointed she was in the girl’s academic performance and the child burst into tears. In other words, there were two systems at work — one for Grades 1 through 6 which worked for both girls and boys, the other in Grades 7 and 8, specifically designed for boys. What we now have is a system tailored to meet the needs of girls at all levels but incapable of controlling boys in the mid-teen years.
Normally, boys need rules, fair and enforced. Theirs is a far more black/white. good/bad, true/false, right/wrong, win/lose world than that of their sisters. A world of greys simply confuses boys and today’s public schools are submerged in swamps of grey. When female teachers find they can’t control or inspire boys, they naturally downgrade their marks, precluding them from further educational opportunities.
But it’s much more complex than this. Teaching for years has been a profession dominated by women. The female proportion of elementary school teachers is 85%, With secondary school teachers it’s, 66%. With soaring divorce rates and resulting fatherless families, a boy could commonly reach the age .of 18 scarcely ever coming under a male authority of any kind.
One possible solution would be to divide the genders in the junior high schools (Grades 7, 8 and 9), with a female teaching staff in the girls’ schools and male teachers in the boys’. The teachers’ unions would no doubt oppose this vigorously, claiming that it discriminates against women teachers. How an attempt to bring about a male/female balance would be discriminatory would be lost on a great many people, but reason rarely plays a major role in current sociology. One thing, however, we do know. Societies that find themselves hosting a vast population of resentful underemployed males do not leave a reassuring record in history.
In pursuing the details of the sex-ed issue, one discerns a growing chasm within our communities between those who believe in God and those who don’t. The disservice done to us by the likes of Mr. Eggen is that he intensifies and widens that gulf. His handling of the sex club issue in the Catholic schools seems so brazenly irresponsible it’s hard to believe this isn’t purposed. But what is that purpose? Does anybody know? Does he? That’s the scary part.
Ted Byfield was founder and publisher of Alberta Report news magazine, general editor of Alberta in the Twentieth Century. a 12-volume history of the province, and general editor of The Christians: Their First Two Thousand Years, a 12-volume history of Christianity. His column on education appears in The Christians.com, a web journal. He has recently authored two little books on modern pedagogy: Why History Matters and The Revolution Nobody Covered. You can order both copies here.