I haven't ranted about this for at least two years, but the post over at Dr. helen's got me up and rolling.
Schools discriminate against boys, and that’s mostly a good thing. Boys learn that life isn’t fair, that you have to make your own way, and they learn to look for alternative routes to success.
Some boys, who do not learn these lessons, are just screwed. There are many ways to fail here. Some girls, who do not fit the girl stereotype of being able to sit still, ask politely, and follow the directions as stated, are also at risk for discovering no routes to success.
People don’t believe you when you tell them that schools heavily favor girls, and evidence does not seem to budge these folks. The template that society in general disfavors women is expected to penetrate every system and institution, and nothing as major as the educational system could possibly be exempt. If this describes you, call me back after you’ve had a couple of sons go through school. I have four. You get used to watching your boy do his 7th grade science fair project on fractals and finishing behind a girl who does a vinegar and baking soda volcano because hers was neatly painted and had nice diagrams. You get used to reading the honor roll and seeing it has twice as many girls as boys on it. High honor roll? Three times as many.
Schools are designed by women for girls. This softens gradually through the higher grades, but never hits level ground. I can still get irked about this, but I have to acknowledge it has been for the best (though just barely with my fourth son). Overcoming obstacles is good for children. Too many obstacles can break them, but a few are an advantage. Schools demand a certain type of behavior – cooperative and responsible, for openers – and these are good things to encourage. It really is better if you learn to listen to the directions and try to treat other people decently. The problem is, these are not the only rules, but they are the ones that elementary school teachers tend to like best.
My wife is an elementary school librarian and my prized daughter-in-law is an elementary school teacher. It is possible to do those jobs evenhandedly. In fact, it is teachers who have sons who are most tuned in to the disparity. But generally, boys get to figuring that school is sort of a girl thing, and find other ways to define themselves. When you read Tom Sawyer or The Little House on the Prairie you can see that this design flaw in the schools goes back over a century. Most males who are tech-wizards of some sort – programmers, inventors, engineers, or developers – are autodidacts. It’s no accident.
Related topic for another post: Feminist anger stems from women discovering that they were only taught half the rules, and their utter dominance in that half does not translate into adult success. Some other rules were sneaking up on the outside, which their teachers and scout leaders didn’t especially make them aware of.