Boys and girls come out to play

Jukka Laari jlaari at cc.jyu.fi
Mon Feb 5 12:12:39 MST 1996


Gary, thanks for that:

"What is especially interesting about this is the response of the media.
No one has advanced the explanation that girls are born smarter than
boys. No way. Here by sharp contrast with the I.Q. debate the emphasis is
all on environmental factors. The favourite explanantion appears to be
that feminists have bullied educators into ignoring boys!"

"Few people have advanced an hypothesis which is linked to the way boys
are constructed. What we are seeing with these results is surely the
result of the encouragement of anti-intellectualism among boys."


1. Interesting. Exactly that argument I've never heard of. However, it
seems that in Australian media a traditional view, that boys somehow are
smarter by nature, is still held? Here was few years ago public
discussion on kindergartens: there are only few male teachers, and
because of that boys don't get proper 'role-models'; female teachers try
to suppress boys' activities as too rude because they don't understand
how important it is for boys to learn practice their bodies physically,
etc. As a result sort of common wisdom emerged: it's important to get to
kindergartens more male teachers who would teach boys virtues of hunters
and warriors while playing - as if that would be relevant in modern
world...

2. That 'social construction hypothesis' is quite widely studied in
sociology, too. Unfortunately I don't know that research very much. What
seems to be present day view is that there are several factors affecting
subjectivization of boys and girls. All the way from socio-economic
background to cultural factors (different characteristics of school
system, media entertainment and the like). For example, what kind of
family background kids have, is there clear differences between boys and
girls in the case of High School Certificate? (One might start to ask,
whether there was more divorces - single parent, usually mother, families
- 'behind' boys than girls? That could imply weaker socio-economic
status. 'Lack' of father figure could cause more 'problems' to boys etc.)
There even might be some 'biological' factor, but how to study that with
contemporary instruments? In general, look at social circumstances would
tell quite a lot about differences.

3. What I doubt a bit is supposition that we/people are simply
constructed. Think about how kids use some people as "role-models",
usually own parents and in a case of absent parent some neighborhood
figure or entertainment hero. Children aren't just passive recipients,
who could be constructed the way we want. In subjectivization there is
their own activity as one 'factor.' However, that is not to deny the
importance of social environment. I just would avoid kind of social
determinism.

Yours, Jukka L


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