I’m glad to see more people talking about young men’s troubles getting through college, and I’ve been following with interest stories about the admissions bar being lowered for male students, so that universities can preserve gender balance on campus. I spent this morning at the annual conference of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, where panelists discussing the “American Male Imperative” talked about guys’ disconnect at college. Males are less likely to graduate, we know that, but according to the panelists, they are also less likely to take advantage of advising and counseling services, to participate in study abroad and other enrichment programs and to appreciate the constructivist and group-work approaches to academics that were designed specifically to engage students.
Among other things, the panelists suggested a reconsideration of the value of the lecture, more gender-themed housing and dude-centered majors. Hmmm. Beyond the fact that this is fodder for way too many easy, unfunny jokes, what is missing, for me, is a discussion of how we got here. Certainly the genesis of “the boy problem” is societal as much as educational. Could the rise of a child-centered culture and helicopter parenting have empowered girls to take charge of their lives at the same time it absolved boys of ever having to do so? Just thinking out loud.