Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Swagger: 10 Urgent Rules for raising boys in an era of failing schools, mass joblessness, and thug culture


"Because parenting can't wait. Our boys are growing up now, in conditions they did not create, and they deserve more than an adulthood defined by illiteracy, poverty, and reporting to a parole officer." ~Lisa Bloom, Swagger

I can't remember how I came across Lisa Bloom several weeks ago, but she ended up suggesting via Twitter that I read her book Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World.


As I was looking up that book, I happened to find Swagger.  Intrigued, I decided to read that one first.  My son just turned 10 and our house is usually filled with at least a few extra friends. 
Schools are of particular interest to me. I often don't think education gets the attention it deserves from those of us who identify as feminists. So, I was both saddened by the statistics she gave and happy that someone was talking about them.

"How do we know for sure that we don't prioritize education? A look at how little time we set aside for our kids to learn will swiftly answer that question. Our kids have one of the shortest school days (six and a half hours) and shortest school year (180 days of instruction, on average) in the first world. Though our kids start strong, the longer they stay in American schools, the worse they do relative to kids in other developed countries. By twelfth grade American kids--both male and female--have lost an entire year of school compared to other first-world students. And there's no political will to change this shortfall, no rising up of the masses to demand better for our kids and our countries future." 

As a native Oregonian, this passage hurt especially deep.

"Oregon's public schoolchildren go to school only 165 days per year. That means that for the majority of their days--200 per year--those kids sit at home, watching television and playing video games. We need to get over our fantasies that kids are building tree forts or swinging from tires during their days off. In their free time American kids are staring at screens. Our children pack in an average of eight to eleven hours a day watching TV, playing computer games, surfing the web, texting or talking on their cell phones."

I reall
y liked that this book both outlined the problems facing our boys and offered solid solutions.  I won't spoil the entire book, but here were a few of my favorites:

  • Make your home a reading Mecca
  • Teach your boy to be ever-critical of all media
  • Support his teacher
  • Teach him to respect girls & women
  • Make community service a regular part of your family life
  • Take him away (ie out of the country if possible!)
Bloom ends the book with an appendix filled with Books Boys will Love.  I am always assigning extra reading in my house, so I really appreciated this age-appropriate list with some new suggestions on it.

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