Pink or Blue Diplomas?
“If a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.” D&C 130:19.
So, even though Joseph Smith didn’t continue with gender neutral pronouns, women are collectively answering his call. In some parts of the country, female students make up 60% of students enrolled in AP or honors classes, and constitute 57 percent of undergraduates nationwide. The stats are making some hot-headed. In a weird reversal, some are making accusations that schools have been rewired to cater to girls while leaving the boys out in the cold.
Doug Anglin, a 17 year old high school student, has filed a federal civil rights case stating that Milton High School discriminates against boys. And while I agree that unfair practices based on pink/glitter paper and inequitable enforcement of hall passes should be abolished, some of Anglin’s suggested improvements are laughable. Honestly, letting students take AP courses for pass/fail and giving academic credit for sports absolutely negates the point, and abolishing community service requirements is just selfish.
Tyre posits that schools are ignoring male student needs. In her Newsweek article, she includes a lot of information about how boys need more space to run around, developmental stages of boys versus girls, hormonal influence, etc etc. All of which I can understand on a theoretical level, but it just isn’t convincing. She finally hits the nail on the head when she talks about family involvement.
I cannot argue against the fact that all students need encouragement and opportunity at school and at home in order to succeed. I don’t see it as a problem limited to gender. In his LA Times article, Landsberg discusses a variety of reasons why kids are doing poorly or dropping out of high school. And while some of the factors seem far removed from our clean, LDS style of living, a recurrent factor is the lack of support and encouragement at school and home.
As a child of east Asian immigrants, education has always held top priority. It was the great equalizer … the vehicle which brought my parents to this country, and by which their children would be able to carve their own places into society. Good grades and going to college were not choices, but mere hurdles (mile markers) to be passed on the road of life.
I only remember two things about the third grade. The first is that it was very boring … lots of sitting quietly and doing assignments in workbooks. The second is getting busted for doing handstands. I’d finished my in-class assignment, and had started chit-chatting with my desk-mate. Mrs. G got irritated and “punished” me by sending me out into the hall, where I promptly started practicing my handstands. Mrs. G turned all shades of purple and called in my mother for a conference on my aberrant behavior. The way my mother tells it, once she got the facts, she blasted Mrs. G for not keeping me sufficiently intellectually stimulated, and left in high dudgeon. The next fall I started at a nearby magnet program, and entered a world of creative exploration that left me no time to be bored.
Emerson wrote, “Education is the drawing out [of] the soul.” Childhood should be a time of exploration and discovery. Children need exposure to everything good we can throw at them, in order to find that place where passion and productivity intersect. And from that intersection, opportunities to learn, grow and share arise.
John K. Carmack, managing director of the Perpetual Education Fund, wrote , “Just knowing that our prophet is deeply concerned about [young men and women all over the world] and wants the best for them has been powerful. Knowing that he has declared that education is the key to opportunity has turned their hearts and minds to education, training, and a search for a satisfying career. Knowing that career training, guidance, and the means to obtain them are available is powerful medicine. This reaching out to the youth may yet prove the most important principle and brightest light of the Perpetual Education Fund.”
So, let’s quit with the “He said … She said …” blame game and actually do something. Encourage and be involved in our children’s education and our own. Be good parents, or if not a parent, then be a good example period. Get involved in a mentoring program. Develop our talents and share them. Promote all things virtuous, lovely, or of good report. Some may label it as seeking for advantages, but I’d rather call it, “the building up of the kingdom.”