Monday, June 18, 2007

Graduation Girls

At Chris's HS graduation tonight, the principal went out of his way to mention that for the second time in three years, there were nine girls and one boy in the top ten of the class. Why are people surprised at this? Why is the principal, of all people, surprised at this? Schools - or at least school grades - are designed to favor girls. That's not conscious, but it's intentional.

It may be that boys get just as good an education as girls do, but just don't reap the recognition. My younger brother maintains that the boys actually get a better education, because they learn early that life isn't fair and you have to make your own way. As he spent much of his elementary school career in the hall but now has an MFA and teaches theater at East Carolina University, he may have something there. The reward system of school does not approximate the reward system of adult life very well, though it claims to.

But back to the principal's glee. He related this female dominance in GPA to growing acceptance of female leaders in society. He clearly thinks this shows social progress has been made. How many graduations has this guy watched? How many NHS installations has he presided over (in this class it was about usual: 29 girls, 13 boys)? How many honor rolls has he submitted to the local paper? Can he really have missed that this has been going on for decades? Girls get better grades: about half a letter-grade higher, on average.

It's the other parts of school that reveal that there is a disconnect between classroom rewards and outside rewards. Guidance counselor's advice, and student government elections, and awards given by outside agencies, and standardised tests - the boys pull even in these fields overnight. The girls may suspect that something is up as they observe these things. They certainly get irked when they notice them, because it seems unfair that they, who played by what they were told were the rules, don't take home the prize.

It's simple, girls. The rules aren't the real rules. You've been lied to. The girls who didn't make NHS have started figuring that out before you. The school rules for girls are now the dominant rules through college and even into graduate school. Don't fall for it. You'll just be even madder when you have to learn it later - and you'll make it worse by blaming others that life isn't fair. You're right, of course; it isn't fair. But that won't matter.

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