Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Apprenticeship programs help boys develop maturity and job skills

If you have boys, or if you know any, then this article in the left-leaning Atlantic is a must-read for you.

Excerpt:

Young men are more likely to drop out of high school and are less likely to aspire to college than their female peers. Young men who are poor, live in a city, and are black or Latino are at even higher risk of unemployment and unplanned teen fatherhood than their peers in other demographics. As men’s earnings have stagnated, marriage has declined. It’s a vicious cycle: Being unmarried weakens men’s commitment to the work force, but a stagnation in earnings is contributing to the decline in marriage.

Robert Lerman—an economist at American University and fellow at the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan economic and social policy research center in Washington, D.C.—has a solution. He believes bringing apprentice-based learning to America’s schools would both raise earnings and give young men the skills they need to be good husbands and fathers. Put boys in a real-world situation outside the classroom, with skilled adults as mentors, Lerman says, and students have a chance to engage in on-the-job training in a wide range of fields from baking to boat-building, farming to architecture, public health to civil engineering. This is learning in context and it’s what young men (and women) crave: It feels immediate and real. It is not isolated or abstract; it is refreshingly relevant, and it is taking place in real time, in real space, and among adults who take young people seriously. Youth apprenticeship has an immediacy that engages students who have trouble paying attention in class; instead, they are being given the time and the means to develop genuine mastery in a given field. At the very same time, they are cultivating skills—such as how to communicate effectively, problem-solve, work in teams, and maintain a positive attitude—that help them be reliable partners to their spouses and present, stable fathers to their children.

“If we teach everything entirely in a classroom context, we’re not going to be as effective—even when it comes to academics,” Lerman tells me. “The reality is that people learn best—whether it’s cognitive or technical skills or even how to get along with others—in context.”

Although skill-based training is in decline, the article convincingly show how boys learn better when their education includes real-world skills and real-world behaviors.

Here’s just one snippet:

Robert Halpern, a professor of education at the Erikson Institute in Chicago, whose research focuses on after-school programs for poor children and their families, argues that the best schooling for adolescent developmental needs goes beyond the classroom. During a 30-month investigation of one afterschool apprenticeship program, After School Matters in Chicago, Halpern found that participating youth, who attend the program a mere three afternoons a week for one school year, became more flexible thinkers and undertook tasks with more care. The youngsters learned to persevere and understand the value of working through problems. They became more self-responsible and more patient. Notably, their public behavior changed; they became “more mature, more appropriately assertive,” Halpern explains in his book The Means to Grow Up: Reinventing Apprenticeship as a Developmental Support in Adolescence. These are all skills that serve young people well when they enter the workforce, and when they start families of their own.

These apprenticeships, according to Halpern, gave youth “a sense of different ways of being an adult, what it means to be passionate about a discipline, and what it takes to become good at thinking.” Not only were students learning actively rather than passively for the first time in their lives, the experience enabled many of them to begin to overcome years of thinking of themselves as subpar learners. In so doing, their experiences opened up a future that would otherwise have remained closed, and influenced them at a critical time in their lives. These “very specific learning and work experiences leave a deep imprint on still malleable selves.”

You need to read the whole thing if this is relevant to you. It’s no use complaining about “man up” and other nonsense. The real causes of male decline are systemic. Find the policies that work and implement them. Throw out the failed ideology of feminism from the classroom and do what works for our young men.

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Christina Hoff Sommers: helping boys succeed in school

An article from the leftist Time magazine by feminist Christina Hoff Sommers. (H/T Independent Women’s Forum)

Excerpt:

Being a boy can be a serious liability in today’s classroom. As a group, boys are noisy, rowdy and hard to manage. Many are messy, disorganized and won’t sit still. Young male rambunctiousness, according to a recent study, leads teachers to underestimate their intellectual and academic abilities. “Girl behavior is the gold standard in schools,” says psychologist Michael Thompson. “Boys are treated like defective girls.”

These “defective girls” are not faring well academically. Compared with girls, boys earn lower grades, win fewer honors and are less likely to go to college. One education expert has quipped that if current trends continue, the last male will graduate from college in 2068. In today’s knowledge-based economy, success in the classroom has never been more crucial to a young person’s life prospects. Women are adapting; men are not.

Some may say, “Too bad for the boys.” The ability to regulate one’s impulses, sit still and pay attention are building blocks of success in school and in life. As one critic told me, the classroom is no more rigged against boys than workplaces are rigged against lazy or unfocused workers. That is absurd: unproductive workers are adults — not 5- and 6-year-old children who depend on us to learn how to become adults. If boys are restive and unfocused, we must look for ways to help them do better.

She introduces three ideas to fix the problem, and here’s the third one:

In his delightful Boy Writers: Reclaiming their Voices, celebrated author and writing instructor Ralph Fletcher advises teachers to consider their assignments from the point of view of boys. Too many writing teachers, he says, take the “confessional poet” as the classroom ideal. Personal narratives full of emotion and self-disclosure are prized; stories describing video games, skateboard competitions or a monster devouring a city are not.

Peg Tyre’s The Trouble With Boys illustrates the point. She tells the story of a third-grader in Southern Californianamed Justin who loved Star Wars, pirates, wars and weapons. An alarmed teacher summoned his parents to school to discuss a picture the 8-year-old had drawn of a sword fight — which included several decapitated heads. The teacher expressed “concern” about Justin’s “values.” The father, astonished by the teacher’s repugnance for a typical boy drawing, wondered if his son could ever win the approval of someone who had so little sympathy for the child’s imagination.

Teachers have to come to terms with the young male spirit. As Fletcher urges, if we want boys to flourish, we are going to have to encourage their distinctive reading, writing, drawing and even joke-telling propensities. Along with personal “reflection journals,” Fletcher suggests teachers permit fantasy, horror, spoofs, humor, war, conflict and, yes, even lurid sword fights.

If boys are constantly subject to disapproval for their interests and enthusiasms, they are likely to become disengaged and lag further behind. Our schools need to work with, not against, the kinetic imaginations of boys to move them toward becoming educated young men.

Dr. Sommers participated in a recent debate where she argued in favor of allowing all-male schools against a radical feminist. That page has audio and a transcript as well.

My thoughts

I do think that women need to realize that boys have to be encouraged to do the different things that boys do, if we want boys to be engaged. The good things that boys do in society are not free – they need to be encouraged and not dismissed. Playing a wargame or an adventurous boardgame with a boy is good. Firing real guns with a boy is good. Playing adventurous role-playing games with a boy is good. Going to a war museum or on a camping trip with a boy is good. Watching patriotic war movies or adventurous movies with a boy is good. Reading military history and military biographies is good. Reading classical adventure novels with a boy is good. Listening to adventurous music with a boy is good. Even watching the news with a boy is good.

Nothing is free. We have to create the boys we want, and encourage them to be aggressive, active and righteous.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , ,

New study: premiums for young people to rise in all 50 states under Obamacare

The Washington Free Beacon reports on a new study.

Excerpt:

Health insurance premiums for young people will rise in all 50 states under Obamacare, with an average increase of 260 percent, according to a study released Thursday.

The young and healthy segment of the uninsured is considered crucial for the Affordable Care Act to succeed. Former President Bill Clinton suggested last week that Obamacare only works “if young people show up.”

However, an analysis of premiums both before and after the implementation of Obamacare shows that 18- to 35-year-olds are likely to opt out of high rates in the exchanges in favor of cheaper penalties for not having insurance.

According to a study released by the American Action Forum, post-Obamacare premiums will average $187.08 per month, up from $62 per month in 2013, a 202 percent increase.  Overall, states averaged an increase of 260 percent.

Forty-four out of 50 states saw a three-digit percent increase, and in Vermont the cheapest available premium for a 30 year-old male nonsmoker will increase by $332.69, or 600 percent.

[...]Massachusetts had the lowest increase at 9 percent, though the state is considered an “outlier” since it already had similar health care reforms put in place under former Republican Gov. Mitt Romney.

“[T]hat state’s insurance market has been subject to ACA-like reforms since 2006, bloating the premium for the lowest-cost pre-ACA policy to nearly $214, making it the highest of the 2013 premiums analyzed in this study,” the report said.

But what about the subsidies, won’t they help cover the cost of all the free condoms and birth control pills and abortion drugs?

No:

Given the high costs of the premiums, the study predicts that even with subsidies, most of the young uninsured will opt to pay the penalty rather than sign up for health care.

Individuals between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty line are eligible for subsidies under the law.

Only those who earn up to 133 percent of the poverty line will have a financial incentive to join the health exchange.  An individual with an income of $15,281.70 would receive a subsidy to cover 100 percent of their health care premiums.

Moving up the income bracket creates disincentives for the young to enroll.  Those making $20,107.50, or 175 percent of the poverty line, will still face a $449 premium, which is three times higher than the penalty they would incur in 2014 ($103.57) if they did not purchase insurance.

An individual earning $37,342.50 will receive no subsidy at all and will face a minimum premium of $2,839, as opposed to a $275.92 penalty in 2014.

I’m pretty sure that most people who get jobs out of college will make more than $37,342.50. Petroleum engineers start at around double that income.

So, I’m thinking that the young people – especially college-educated people with jobs – shouldn’t have voted for Obama. Do you think that their teachers and professors explained to them what would happen to them if they voted for Obama? I think not. I think that their teachers and professors wanted their little wide-eyed charges to vote for more funding of education, with no performance checking, so that they could be paid more money. And the children believed their teachers and voted accordingly. This is a particularly bad deal for bright young men – the kind you might expect to be interested in marriage. Now not only have they inherited massive amounts of debt and a crappy socialist economy with no jobs, but they are being forced to buy expensive health care coverage that they don’t need and won’t use. Why? To subsidize the health care claims made by women and the elderly, who use more health care products and services.

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Women earned more doctoral and Master’s degrees than men in 2012

Women now earning majority of graduate degrees

Women now earning majority of graduate degrees

From the American Enterprise Institute Ideas blog.

Excerpt:

The Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) released its annual report recently on U.S. graduate school enrollment and degrees for 2012, and here are some of the more interesting findings in this year’s report:

1. For the fourth year in a row, women in 2012 earned a majority of doctoral degrees. Of the 67,220 doctoral degrees awarded in 2012 at U.S. universities, women earned 34,761 of those degrees and 52.2% of the total, compared to 31,830 degrees awarded to men who earned 47.8% of the total (see top chart above).

[...]2. By field of study, women earning doctoral degrees in 2012 outnumbered men in 7 of the 11 graduate fields tracked by the CGS (see top chart above)

[...]3. The middle chart above shows the gender breakdown for master’s degrees awarded in 2012, and the gender disparity in favor of females is significant – women earned just under 60% of all master’s degrees in 2012, which would also mean that women earned 146.9 master’s degrees last year for every 100 degrees earned by men.

[...]Women represent 58.5% of all graduate students in the U.S., meaning that there are now 141 women enrolled in graduate school for every 100 men.

Click here for the charts.

The author of the post, Dr. Mark Perry, concludes this:

MP: Here’s my prediction – the facts that: a) men are underrepresented in graduate school enrollment overall (100 men were enrolled in 2012 for every 141 women), b) men received fewer master’s (40.5% of the total) and doctoral degrees (47.8% of the total) than women in 2012, and c) men were underrepresented in 7 out of 11 graduate fields of study at both the master’s and doctoral levels last year will get no attention at all from the media, universities and anybody in the higher education industry.

Additionally, there will be no calls for government studies, or increased government funding to address the significant gender disparities in graduate schools, and nobody will refer to the gender graduate school enrollment and degree gaps favoring women as a problem or a “crisis.”  Further, neither President Obama nor Congress will address the gender graduate enrollment and degree gaps by invoking the Title IX gender-equity law, like they have threatened to do for the gender gap in some college math and science programs. And there won’t be any executive orders to address the huge gender disparity in graduate schools by creating a White House Council on Boys and Men like the executive order issued by President Obama in 2009 to create the “White House Council on Women and Girls.”  Finally, despite their stated commitment to “gender equity,” the hundreds of university women’s centers around the country are unlikely to show any concern about the significant gender inequities in graduate school enrollment and degrees, and universities will not be allocating funding to set up men’s centers or create graduate scholarships for men.

Bottom Line: If there is any attention about gender differences in the CGS annual report, it will likely be about the fact that women are a minority in 4 of the 11 fields of graduate study including engineering and computer science (a gender gap which some consider to be a “national crisis”), with calls for greater awareness of female under-representation in STEM graduate fields of study and careers (except for the STEM field of biology, where women areover-represented).  But don’t expect any concern about the fact that men have increasingly become the second sex in higher education.  The concern about gender imbalances will remain extremely selective, and will only focus on cases when women, not men, are underrepresented and in the minority.

Men outnumber women in business, computer science, engineering and physical sciences.

I echo Dr. Perry’s point, and want to add this. In traditional Christianity, men are responsible for providing for their families. One of the ways that we men prepare for this is by getting advanced degrees in STEM-related fields, since these fields are the hardest and also pay the best. So with that in mind, what does it mean for men who want to prepare for this provider role that there is this obvious discrimination against men in graduate schools and doctoral programs? Is anyone going to do anything to change policies and incentives to favor men, like they did when women were under-represented? Of course not. The only thing that will be done is to ignorantly urge men to “man up”, while ignoring the real problems, e.g. – a lack of male teachers, schools that are not geared to male learning styles, and so on.

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Kenosha teachers vote to de-certify their teacher union, 63 – 37

The Competitive Enterprise Institute reports.

Excerpt:

Today, teachers in Kenosha, Wis., voted to decertify their union, the Kenosha Education Association, by a margin of nearly two to one. Only 37 percent of the teachers opted to retain the union in an election made possible by the labor reforms enacted under Gov. Scott Walker (R). The result goes to show that when workers have a choice on whether to join a union instead of being forced into one by law, they often choose to vote down the union.

Competitive Enterprise Institute labor policy analyst Matt Patterson said regarding the vote in Kenosha:

“Gov. Walker’s bold and effective reforms have loosened the grip of unions on Wisconsin’s public purse, to the benefit of taxpayers and to the detriment of Big Labor bosses. The news today proves what unions have long feared – that when workers are actually given a free and fair choice, they will often choose opt out of union membership altogether.

“The public at large—and an increasing number of union members—have become wise to the fact labor unions stifle innovation and burden governments and businesses with unsustainable costs and regulations.”

What that means is that the union not only does not get automatic contributions from teachers, but that the the school district cannot even withhold funds from teacher pay checks. Teachers will have to come to some sort of arrangement with the union to give them money on their own, if they want to.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel added some more details.

Excerpt:

Christina Brey, speaking for the Wisconsin Education Association Council, downplayed recertification, calling it just another hoop for local unions to jump through.

Unions can exist without certification, but they cannot bargain for limited base-wage increases with the district. And there are fees involved with chasing recertification.

“It seems like the majority of our affiliates in the state aren’t seeking recertification, so I don’t think the KEA is an outlier or unique in this,” Brey said.

She added that certification gives the union scant power over a limited number of issues they’d like a voice in.

Sheronda Glass, the director of business services in Kenosha, said it’s a new experience for the district to be under Act 10.

She said that, without the union being certified, the district is not obligated to even sit down and hear the concerns of the union over issues such as base wages and working conditions, a clause known as “meet and confer orders.”

Also, she said the district can no longer hold wages for union dues if the union is not certified.

Employees would have to pursue a different avenue if they want their wages withheld, she said.

“We’ve heard all kinds of stories about what has happened in other districts that came under Act 10 and had no teachers’ contract,” Glass said. “It’s interesting now that we’re in it.”

That comment “It seems like the majority of our affiliates in the state aren’t seeking recertification” is good news.

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