or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Education › Learning at Home and Beyond › Unschooling › something i need to talk about...
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

something i need to talk about...

post #1 of 41
Thread Starter 
in all the unschooling groups i have dealt with over the years there is something i have noticed and it is sort of bugging me.
it seems to me (and this can very well be a gross generalization, i can only go on what i have been told and what i see about what has gone on in the three groups i have been associated with), that at a certain age boys seem to be left to their own devices and girls are encouraged to learn more.
an example might be... a boy wants to learn about weapons so they get a book and then let them beat the tar out of each other as their learning from weapons. while a girl might be taking to a SCA meeting, shown movies, gotten books, and even make a weapon and learn to use it.
i don't see many girls at ten being left at home to play Halo all day while the family goes to the park, but alot of the boys at around ten seem to do that.
i do have personal issues with those sorts of games, BUT if a family doesn't see a problem with it i have no issue with that family.
it just seems like the girls get more focus and the boys are left alone to watch TV and play video games.
again i have no issue with tv watching or video game playing/ computer use. i just think that the boys do it more and are not encouraged to explore more.

h
post #2 of 41
Your stereotype is borne out in my family. My 16yo dd is busy pursuing AP English courses, writing classes and heading for a future professional music career. My 11yo dd is into aikido, cross-country running, farming, and formal study of biology. My 7yo dd is into everything. My 13yo ds prefers to stay home and play Left 4 Dead and do scripting using Garry's Mod. (I also have my own personal issues about gaming, but watching him, well, I can't judge. It is his passion. It is what he loves. It's important to him. So I support him in it.)

But you know, if anything I encourage / strew / offer / support / facilitate with my son more vigorously than his sisters. But he just isn't interested. Nothing I offer is accepted. I offer lots that is related to his gaming too -- and that's often declined as well. Even getting him to the community gaming club (a LAN and video-game night at the community hall, with tons of gaming teens and adults) took huge amounts of persuasion. I've bought him books on programming, game theory, computer logic, tried to set up mentorships and volunteer opportunities. And I've done a lot to try to encourage other related or unrelated interests in him, especially those that are social or physical. Nothing takes. Instead his sisters start bouncing around saying "can I do that?"

It's not quite as bleak this makes it seem. He is a good kid. He has a couple of other interests that he's deeply committed to, and a bit of a social life with some really awesome friends. But when it comes to novel experiences and new opportunities, 99 percent of the time he says "no thanks."

I don't get it. All I can do is offer, and it doesn't do any good.

Anyway, to an outsider it looks like his sisters get all the active parental facilitation and he is simply left to his own devices as a mouse potato. But I've tried at least as much with him, I really have. The allure of gaming is just so strong for many boys.

Miranda
post #3 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post
The allure of gaming is just so strong for many boys.

Miranda
So curious as to why this is. I'm seeing the same thing in my 6.5 yr old ds, but not my almost 4 yr old ds... so far. I was really hoping he would outgrow it, but by the looks of it from yours and the OP, all I have to look forward to is more of the same. Sigh.

Kristine
post #4 of 41
What is the allure with video games? My sons and husband all love them and there is no way I'll ever be able to reverse the trend. In fact, I couldn't even prevent it. Not that I tried terribly hard. On the other hand, most of the unschooled teenage girls I know are much more into social media than the boys. Or so it seems.

I think that the girls demand the investment. They want the connection. Or at least they respond well to structured activites. The boy sseem to be disinterested in doing things that are not of their creation or invention, prefer to be left alone in a world they control (perhaps?) and most certainly when they are exploring something of interest, a physical component becomes pretty essential.
post #5 of 41
Forgive me if this sounds really old fashioned, or over-generalized, or politically incorrect or whatever... This is just abstracts off the top of my head... Try to see my larger point and not only the examples I list...

Don't boys and girls learn differently than each other? Have different levels of skill/desire based on wiring? I guess I am saying that females are cut out for different stuff than males. I'm thinking bows and arrows versus bead looming or something along those lines. Honestly, I think that boys are hardwired to want to learn fighting and hunting logistics/strategy. Sadly, I think that "gaming" is the modern stand-in for what used to be a very valid, much needed skill. They just don't need to know how to track deer, or protect the farmstead anymore. Girls, on the other hand, I think are hardwired to be detail oriented and social. Take care of babies, mend clothes, gather fruit, whatever.

Looking at most cultures throughout history, there are marked differences between what females and males are expected to do. I don't think it is only outdated sexist themes that have made it that way. I absolutely appreciate that it in our modern society girls are encouraged to learn archery and it is okay for boys to design dresses... I am a big proponent of not trapping anyone into a gender role. BUT I do think that, for the most part(not true for absolutely everyone), boys and girls have different methods of learning different things and very different strong points. I hope that makes sense.

I know that from observing my 6yo DS and my 3yo DD, they have very different learning styles. He wants to be shown how to do something and left alone with it. My DD will sit with you for hours doing variations of the same few things over and over with you.

A side story that is of some note... My little brother, about 14 or 15 at the time(public schooled), watched a TV show on PBS about the use of the trebuchet(spelling?) as a war weapon. Then he went and built one out of paper. THEN he went outside and built a huge functional one out of junk in the yard. Before and after that he'd spend months playing video games. And then he'd go out and make his own forced-air forge and mess around with making his own weapons. And then he'd spend another few months playing video games. The games provided the interest and the context for weapon making and a "place" to use them... He would then go out in the real world and apply that. While I get nothing out of video games, I can't knock the people who see their boys finding something of merit in them.
post #6 of 41
Thread Starter 
SB: that is true, they do learn differently.

moonin: you're right. it is really hard to say what exactly is going on on the inside.

i will have to mull this over some more.

h
post #7 of 41
My son is absolutely the gamer in the family, but funnily enough it's my daughter (5yo) who wants to stay home all the time and my son (9yo) is the one who wants to be out at all the happenings with our group of friends, classes, activities etc.
post #8 of 41
Oh and in our group there are a couple families with boys who tend to stay home but there are more boys who come out to participate than stay home and the parents are just as attentive either way.
post #9 of 41
Maybe it has its roots in our evolution?

Women/girls had to learn a variety of tasks by rote memorization and specific handiwork to keep hearth and home intact. Men/boys get to sit around between hunts, plowing and harvest. Their work was more intense but sporadic.


That's all I've got.
post #10 of 41

Across the board...

Regardless of how evolution and biology may have hardwired us, male children being allowed to under perform is not doing them any favors. Most boys are not going to grow up to be hunters or soldiers. Failing to prepare them for the reality of a global economy, increasing competition, and the "real world" is irresponsible. I have noticed a huge achievement gap in my own generation (people who are in the mid twenties to early thirties) between men and women.

This article is long but interesting and definitely worth the read. I'm not sure what the solution is the but the problem seems to be growing across the board and certainly does not seem limited to homeschooling groups or even school aged children.
post #11 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gucci&Granola View Post
Regardless of how evolution and biology may have hardwired us, male children being allowed to under perform is not doing them any favors. Most boys are not going to grow up to be hunters or soldiers. Failing to prepare them for the reality of a global economy, increasing competition, and the "real world" is irresponsible.
I think it's important to point out that while they may not be out there on homeschool field trips or volunteering at the SPCA, there is plenty that can occur on the computer that is simply excellent preparation for the "real world." My ds is a gamer and computer geek, and as a result of his interests there he has far more knowledge of business, entrepreneurship, logic, physics, marketing, computers and economics than his sisters do. He's already being paid for providing tech support and has age 13 has already earned Grade 10 and 11 credits in Information Technology and Digital Media.

Compared to his older sister, whose most refined skills are violin performance and creative writing, he's the one who will likely end up with the higher-paying job and good hours and benefits.

Miranda
post #12 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post
I think it's important to point out that while they may not be out there on homeschool field trips or volunteering at the SPCA, there is plenty that can occur on the computer that is simply excellent preparation for the "real world." My ds is a gamer and computer geek, and as a result of his interests there he has far more knowledge of business, entrepreneurship, logic, physics, marketing, computers and economics than his sisters do. He's already being paid for providing tech support and has age 13 has already earned Grade 10 and 11 credits in Information Technology and Digital Media.

Miranda
This is an excellent point. My husband is a video game lover (although he does NOT play all the time or even everyday) and he works for Google. His interests in computers and technology on a recreational basis have helped him quite a bit professionally. However, the trend to which I was referring among my peers is an increasing unwillingness among men to do things that they don't want to do. All the tech experience in the world wouldn't have gotten my husband his job if he had been unwilling or unable to work with people (face to face), follow directions, manage time, prioritize, and suck up his own needs and wants when it was really time to get things done.

In the article that I cited above the author bemoans the fact that men are now less likely to graduate from college, to hold down decent jobs, to move out of their parents homes in a timely fashion etc... So much additional pressure has been placed on females for such a long time that many women and girls cultivate drive and motivation from a young age. Historically, women had to be far superior to men to earn similar professional respect and opportunities. Things are changing and NO ONE, man or woman, can simply rest on their laurels anymore. Job competition is fierce and for every kid in America who has a penchant for technology there are 10 in developing countries that not only understand tech but also have a strong, focused work ethic.

I was homeschooled for a portion of my childhood and I feel strongly that children should be allowed to cultivate interests and follow passions. The issue I take is with the assumption that all children require equal guidance and structure. Unless children are being raised in a bomb shelter, they are going to be effected by the culture in which they live. Girls have had to do more to prove themselves historically and as a result may be more likely to push themselves when given free reign. I don't think that allowing boy children to sit around and play video games all day (whether they are in public school, private school, homeschool, or are unschooling) is beneficial long term.
post #13 of 41
My ds is not into games much at all. He's actually pretty outgoing like his mama. My dd loves computer games and watching her daddy play his games. I have noticed that my dh is not nearly using the potential he has because of games and I will not allow that for either child. It damages the ability to have a true relationship with partners (I'm a holistic psych and this is a problem across the board)

I let them have their games, however, I have them wake up each morning and read three sentences I keep on our dry erase board.

1) I am happy today.
2) I will strive to be a good friend and partner.
3) I will strive to be a good person.

The kids love reading it and it's our mantra. It has worked well in keeping them balanced between the importance of when they are drowning themselves out of interpersonal relationships.
post #14 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gucci&Granola View Post
Regardless of how evolution and biology may have hardwired us, male children being allowed to under perform is not doing them any favors. Most boys are not going to grow up to be hunters or soldiers. Failing to prepare them for the reality of a global economy, increasing competition, and the "real world" is irresponsible. I have noticed a huge achievement gap in my own generation (people who are in the mid twenties to early thirties) between men and women.
I never said we should allow them to under perform. Though, when I homeschooled my kid one year... I noticed the thing the OP did. Time and time again the girls did real work.. the boys mostly played.... and much of that play was solitary and indoors with the game cubes and such. So sad.
post #15 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by philomom View Post
I never said we should allow them to under perform.
I didn't mean to imply that as your meaning. I was just interested in providing my perspective (as a member of the first generation to grow up with gaming AND a huge achievement gap between the sexes). There is a lot of room for variation and I certainly don't think that all men are lazy or that all women are motivated and hardworking.

I don't have a son but when and if I am ever raising a boy I'm sure I will struggle with these same issues.
post #16 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gucci&Granola View Post
The issue I take is with the assumption that all children require equal guidance and structure.
I don't think I've met anyone with more than one kid who has ever made that assumption once a second child enters a family the fact that each has different operating instructions becomes pretty darn apparent in a hurry
post #17 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gucci&Granola View Post
I didn't mean to imply that as your meaning. I was just interested in providing my perspective (as a member of the first generation to grow up with gaming AND a huge achievement gap between the sexes). There is a lot of room for variation and I certainly don't think that all men are lazy or that all women are motivated and hardworking.

I don't have a son but when and if I am ever raising a boy I'm sure I will struggle with these same issues.
My husband loves video games and is finishing his PhD whilst I stay at home and have no degrees and loathe video games but cannot seem to stop them. Whatever the hell am I supposed to do? I don't have a TV, but the computer is how we exist. This is the water we swim in. I suppose we'll just have to adapt.

But what is the solution really? Do we expect tired, over-stretched individuals struggling without a tribe and without jobs or appropriate societal support to just undo culture?

I know folks who live in the woods and have chosen to unplug and live off the land and that's all well and good for them, however, we don't all just choose to own land and live off the grid. It usually takes some sort of foundation of resources, not to mention skill, a certain level of motivation, and a sharp focus on one goal at the expense of others. I don't have that to spare at the moment. Meanwhile, I've got kids. Sons, in fact. Who love video games. I can't control it. But I keep running across five thousand reasons that I should feel guilty about it.
post #18 of 41
Thread Starter 
i don't think you or anyone should feel guilty about it. i was just noticing a trend. not that i have an issue with computer use or tv or gaming per say, it just seems that, in my experience, the boys seem to gravitate to gaming and then do nothing else, while the girls may enjoy gaming but seem more involved. again this is only in the three groups i have been in. and yes there are exceptions, like boys who don';t game and like to hang out, but i have yet to see a single girl who didn't enjoy gaming and ALSO being out and about.
we have a tv, and a computer and all the kids use both, but i do make sure there is a balance. we all go to the park, they do take lessons (ie piano, or gym, etc ) just to get them out there and around people. we also have days where we sit and watch alot of tv.

my brother i guess could be part of the generation that sort of grew up with computers and gaming. he is 4 years younger then me, but had a computer all thru middle and high school. he even had a chance to go to college for computer programing, yet he was too busy gaming and flunked out. now he has a decent job, but can't really move up in the business due to his horrible personal skills. not saying it is the gaming, maybe because he has such bad personal skills he likes to game? but it does hold him back. he and his wife just moved out of my parents house a year or so ago. he is in his mid 30's. again i am not saying this is the life of a gamer. lol just that this has been something i have wanted to avoid with my own sons. i am sure there are many gamers who have gone on to have great jobs and can balance the two passions.

and although i do allow my kids to do what they want alot of the time, being the mom, i do pay attention to how they spend their time. i have noticed when they sit for HOURS in front of the screen (any screen tv or computer or game system) they get weird. so i do set limits and i do keep track. they less poorly, they tend to crave crappy foods, they get pissy with each other. i will send them outside for awhile, or shut things down for the rest of the day if i notice that things are getting weird. but i feel like that is part of my job as mom, to watch out for their welfare.

h
post #19 of 41
I read something somewhere (maybe in Raising Cain) about how boys are much more selective than girls about their relationships. It's not that girls aren't selective, just that they don't mind socializing with a wider selection of people. So it's hard for boys to go to school and be with a teacher if they don't really connect with her or him. Girls have an easier time with that.

I've always been impressed by my ds's social skills. He just came that way, needing little guidance on the matter. He's willing to meet new people. But if he doesn't hit it off with them after a couple of times, he'd certainly prefer to stay home and play with the computer, and the people he meets over the computer. But he'll drop that to be with a good friend, as well. He is selective and discriminating. It's not a good or bad thing but if it's a typical boy thing it helps explain what the OP thinks she is observing. And again, I'm not trying to make it sound like its a bad or good thing for girls to be otherwise, or even to claim that all girls are more social. But there does seem to be something different from each other about how the majority of boys and girls socialize.

We sit out of many of the classes and organized events that are available so it may seem like ds is left to his own devices or not encouraged to explore. But that's not the case. We're just selective and prefer exploring out of a group setting so we can go at ds's pace and follow the directions his interests lead. We'll be at the parkday and he'll run around with a sword but we'll skip the co-ops so he can do his own thing.
post #20 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by unschoolinmom View Post

I let them have their games, however, I have them wake up each morning and read three sentences I keep on our dry erase board.

1) I am happy today.
2) I will strive to be a good friend and partner.
3) I will strive to be a good person.

The kids love reading it and it's our mantra. It has worked well in keeping them balanced between the importance of when they are drowning themselves out of interpersonal relationships.
Love this!! unschoolinmom

I do not have much to add to this discussion other than my son age 7 loves games, especially the wii, for him though it's the competitiveness of it, even against himself he's constantly trying to beat his score, or someone else . alway trying to be: better faster stronger...I'm not too fond of that part. But when he plays he is in it 100 percent giving his all, his best in every way. That can't be a bad thing, right?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Unschooling
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Education › Learning at Home and Beyond › Unschooling › something i need to talk about...