School Has Become Too Hostile to Boys
And efforts to re-engineer the young-male imagination are doomed to fail
Across the country, schools are policing and punishing the distinctive, assertive sociability of boys. Many much-loved games have vanished from school playgrounds. At some schools, tug of war has been replaced with tug of peace. Since the 1990s, elimination games like dodgeball, red rover and tag have been under a cloud too damaging to self-esteem and too violent, say certain experts. Young boys, with few exceptions, love action narratives. These usually involve heroes, bad guys, rescues and shoot-ups. As boys play proceeds, plots become more elaborate and the boys more transfixed. When researchers ask boys why they do it, the standard replyis, Because its fun.
According to at least one study, such play rarely escalates into real aggression only about 1% of the time. But when two researchers, Mary Ellin Logue and Hattie Harvey, surveyed classroom practices of 98 teachers of 4-year-olds, they found that this style of play was the least tolerated. Nearly half of teachers stopped or redirected boys dramatic play daily or several times a week whereas less than a third reported stopping or redirecting girls dramatic play weekly.
Play is a critical basis for learning. And boys heroic play is no exception. Logue and Harvey found that bad guy play improved childrens conversation and imaginative writing. Such play, say the authors, also builds moral imagination, social competence and imparts critical lessons about personal limits and self-restraint. Logue and Harvey worry that the growing intolerance for boys action-narrative-play choices may be undermining their early language development and weakening their attachment to school. Imagine the harm done to boys like Christopher, Josh and Alex who are not merely discouraged from their choice of play, but are punished, publicly shamed and ostracized.
Schools must enforce codes of discipline and maintain clear rules against incivility and malicious behavior. But that hardly requires abolishing tag, imposing games of tug of peace or banning superhero play. Efforts to re-engineer the young-male imagination are doomed to fail, but they will succeed spectacularly in at least one way. They will send a clear and unmistakable message to millions of schoolboys: You are not welcome in school.
http://ideas.time.com/2013/08/19/school-has-become-too-hostile-to-boys/#ixzz2cRNwXbNHChristina Hoff Sommers - TIME
What exactly is "Tug-of Peace"?
Participants group themselves around a rope that has been tied in a knot to form a circle. Players squat down around the rope, holding the rope with both hands. At the count of three, all players lean back and-using the energy of the group-they stand up. When everyone has stood up (and cheered), players can, on the count of three again, carefully lean back into a squat.
In this game, the counterbalance support that players provide to one another is a graphic representation of mutual support and cooperation. Its a totally different experience than Tug-of-War, which can be a painful exercise that activates aggression and leaves players in the dirt.
(This game comes from Maria Sapon-Shevin, Because We Can Change the World)