Many who homeschool today will readily admit that they do so because they know public school is not an option for their family. It is not an option because they have mostly boys.
There are myriad reasons why this is so. To include a few of them would be to go over articles about canceling recess, making children sit still and the increased prescription of ADHD drugs.
But another reason public school is harder on boys has to do with competition and its effect on boys.
The Nature of Competition
According to Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, authors of Top Dog, the hypercompetitiveness present in public schools is especially harmful to boys.
Girls do not react in the same way.
Most competitions are held over a defined period of time – 60 minutes of football. When the contest is over, competitors can relax, leave it behind and separate themselves from how well they did in the game. In schools this isn’t the case. The competition for good grades is endless, the comparisons never cease. It’s not just a game – it’s their life, with real outcomes. To lose in a game is something men can rebound from. But to be losing in life, day in and day out, gets to them. They can’t escape it.
The authors – who also wrote Nurture Shock – spend much time explaining the difference between how girls and boys react to the competition in schools. And while they are referring to elite schools in this specific chapter, the same goes for classrooms in general. According to Bronson and Merryman, females in general tend to do better in what they call “infinite games” and males in “finite games.”
Finite games have a beginning, and end, and the goal of winning. Between games, there is recuperation and restoration. Infinite games, by definition, can never end, and, since no winner is ever declared, the goal instead is to just stay ahead. With infinite games, there is no rest – only a waxing and waning of competitive intensity.
A worthy read.