Long before we begin thinking about boy/girl brains and role models, we need to first think in more complex ways about the very real differential treatment of boys and girls from infancy. We are missing out really big in two ways. We must see how our genetics models have become too rigid in terms of learning and ability and we must learn to see our average stress in a very “new way”, one that is made up of “many maintained layers of mental work”, which accumulate, taking away real mental energy from thinking, learning, motivation, reducing reflection time, and hurting mental/emotional health. By seeing average stress in this way, we can then see much better how the very real differential treatment boys receive from infancy, greatly affects thinking, learning, motivation and mental health. Only then we can perceive how this problem increases greatly as we move down the socioeconomic ladder. This differential treatment is also causing middle-class boys to fall behind their female peers collectively.
How Society Forces Males to Lose Their Potential
We must understand the old belief “boys/men should be strong” and very aggressive, less supportive treatment by society including parents and teachers is causing us to lose Male potential, ability, and productivity in the information age. We are losing generations of Male potential and creating much more violence, even more fatalistic violence today. This will grow out of control unless we take immediate action by providing the same, kind, stable, *verbal interaction, and mental/emotional support we as girls are receiving from infancy through adulthood. We must end this differential treatment in the information age if we wish for boys and men to compete equally with girls and women.
The Male Crisis is growing due to much differential treatment from infancy. We need to remove our genetic models and see how differential treatment from infancy is creating the Male Crisis. The genetics models greatly favor individuals in higher socioeconomic environments, who then falsely justify the plight of less affluent persons not as intelligent or simply not working hard enough. They do not say how Female students in their areas are doing better collectively than their Male peers from their same socioeconomic environments. The myth of genetics and sheer effort is greatly hurting students in lower socioeconomic areas who have also been told the myth of genetics and hard work. They are totally ignoring how individual environments greatly affect their thinking, learning, motivation, reflection time, and their mental health.
A New Way to Look at The Average Stress
I have developed a learning theory that sees average stress in a much more comprehensive way. This shows our average stress as made up of many maintained, unresolved layers of past, present, future – experiences, circumstances, needs, fears, preparation for defense, along with many weights and values we have developed over time that may act as magnets for other accumulating layers of mental work or conflicts over time. This shows stress as more complex and is maintained by our minds as many unresolved mental conflicts. Each of those layers takes up real mental energy, which leaves us with less mental energy for thinking, learning, motivation, shortens our reflection time and hurts our mental health.
This shows us just how our individual environments and differential treatment, “not genetics”, greatly affect our abilities over time. This begins in infancy. I have developed a learning theory, which provides children and adults with tools to continually change and improve their lives over time. Without such tools, it requires long-term stability and a nurturing of knowledge and skills to be successful. Higher average layers and much less support create a much harder road to travel. My theory helps to understand and more permanently reduce those layers of mental work to make it easier to think, learn, and extend reflection time (higher average stress shortens reflection time).
Various Differential Treatments to Boys
The Male Crisis has not been looked at in terms of much differential treatment, which increases greatly as we go down the socioeconomic ladder and more time in those environments. If we look in different socioeconomic areas we cannot help but see how the numbers of Male problems diminish greatly as we go up the socioeconomic ladder. Even in higher socioeconomic areas, those Male students are also falling behind their Female peers. As we go down the socioeconomic ladder, the number of Males failing and turning to many harmful escapes greatly increases. We need to look at much differential treatment of boys and girls beginning from infancy through adulthood. It is amazing to me that such differential treatment has not been looked at by the researchers. I imagine there are two reasons:
- The false belief in genetics has blinded the researchers to the great social, environmental causes of learning and motivation in academics.
- There is the present, very improper view of average stress, which sees stress only as occurring from some immediate situation, event, or work. We need to see how our average stress is made up of many layers of past, present, future layers. We can see this by drawing an upright rectangle representing our full mental energy, then drawing in from the bottom and upward, many innumerable, layers of unresolved mental work, all of us are acclimated to – to some degree – and also places all of us at some environmental disadvantage from others. So, all of us suffer from some amount or layers of maintained, unresolved mental work, which limits our leftover mental energy for thinking, learning, reflection time, and mental health.
As we can see the problem involving differential treatment and learning is much more complex than school curriculum or boy chemistry. We need to stop looking at where boys are in life, character, and behavior and begin seeing how boys are treated, very differently from us as girls, from infancy by parents, teachers, peers, and society all to make them tough. This is creating the activity, less maturity, more learning problems, and more fear and dislike for authority figures.
The belief, boys should be strong allows more aggressive treatment as early as one year of age, designed to create more layers of anger, fear, and tension, so they will be prepared to fight, defend, and be tough. This is coupled with “much less” kind, stable, (very little kind of verbal interaction) and much less mental/emotional support, knowledge, and skills for fear of coddling. It is this more aggressive, less supportive treatment, which creates the toughness or extra maintained layers of average stress: anger, fear, preparation for defence, anxiety, etc. These layers remain in the mind and take away real mental energy from academics so those boys will have to work two or three times as hard to receive the same mental reward for mental work expended.
The result of the Differential Treatment
This more aggressive, less supportive treatment along with less verbal interaction creates more social/emotional distance/distrust of others – parents, teachers, peers, and others in society. It creates lags in social vocabulary, less knowledge of syntax and other communication we as girls are given on a more continuous basis. It creates higher average stress, which creates more activity for stress relief (not genetics but environmentally created). The higher average stress also creates higher muscle tension, which hurts handwriting: more pressure on the pencil and a much tighter grip, hurting handwriting and motivation (too much pressure tighter grip causing early fatigue).
The total effect including less care and support creates much more failure and a feeling of hopelessness, especially with our false genetic models firmly in place. Also, to make it even tougher for boys is the granting of love and honor (feelings of self-worth) only on condition of achievement, status, or image. This was designed to keep Male esteem and feelings of self-worth low to keep them striving and even be willing to give their lives in war for small measures of love and honor from society. Males not achieving in school or other areas are given more ridicule and discipline to make them try harder. Support is not given boys for fear of coddling and false genetics models. Many boys (as you would expect) thus falling behind in school then turn their attention to sports and video games to gleam small measures of love and honor not received in the classroom. The belief boys should be strong and the false belief in genetics creates a blatant mental denial of the differential treatment, which is creating the lower academics, low esteem, and other problems many boys are facing today. So strong is the belief that there is an almost emotional cannibalism allowed upon boys and men who appear weak in some way by society: parents, teachers, others, even from many girls and women, especially in the media.
Note, this is not about showing feelings or openness from boys and men, it is about support, care, and respect for boys even when appearing weak in some way. Remember aggressive treatment is increased for any sign of weakness and the much wariness boys feel for parents and teachers who feel it necessary and more freely allowed to use more aggressiveness for any sign of weakness or vulnerability. This is condoned by many in the society today.
-By Lynn Oliver
About the Author
Lynn Oliver is a learning expert and is originally from Atlanta, Georgia. She graduated from the University of North Florida with a degree in Education. She taught part-time for many years while caring for her family. From her college years, she has maintained her desire to provide tools for change and improvement for all students and adults. She is now retired from teaching but has maintained a very passionate desire to have her learning theory and its evolving applications accepted by educators and used in school as a method for the long-term need for everyone.