Tag Archives: Video Games

What is the best way to encourage young men to read?

My answer is to have all-male schools, with all-male teachers, with all fiction books and drama selected by men, and field trips that appeal to male needs, (e.g. – the war museum! the air show! the underground caverns! a computer lab!).

But what about video games? Do they make reading seem boring to young men?

Consider this Wall Street Journal article.

The problem:

When I was a young boy, America’s elite schools and universities were almost entirely reserved for males. That seems incredible now, in an era when headlines suggest that boys are largely unfit for the classroom. In particular, they can’t read.

According to a recent report from the Center on Education Policy, for example, substantially more boys than girls score below the proficiency level on the annual National Assessment of Educational Progress reading test. This disparity goes back to 1992, and in some states the percentage of boys proficient in reading is now more than ten points below that of girls. The male-female reading gap is found in every socio-economic and ethnic category, including the children of white, college-educated parents.

The good news is that influential people have noticed this problem. The bad news is that many of them have perfectly awful ideas for solving it.

Everyone agrees that if boys don’t read well, it’s because they don’t read enough. But why don’t they read? A considerable number of teachers and librarians believe that boys are simply bored by the “stuffy” literature they encounter in school. According to a revealing Associated Press story in July these experts insist that we must “meet them where they are”—that is, pander to boys’ untutored tastes.

Spence explains how many publishers are writing books for boys that are really childish and disgusting.

Spence’s solution:

One obvious problem with the SweetFarts philosophy of education is that it is more suited to producing a generation of barbarians and morons than to raising the sort of men who make good husbands, fathers and professionals. If you keep meeting a boy where he is, he doesn’t go very far.

The other problem is that pandering doesn’t address the real reason boys won’t read. My own experience with six sons is that even the squirmiest boy does not require lurid or vulgar material to sustain his interest in a book.

So why won’t boys read? The AP story drops a clue when it describes the efforts of one frustrated couple with their 13-year-old unlettered son: “They’ve tried bribing him with new video games.” Good grief.

The appearance of the boy-girl literacy gap happens to coincide with the proliferation of video games and other electronic forms of entertainment over the last decade or two. Boys spend far more time “plugged in” than girls do. Could the reading gap have more to do with competition for boys’ attention than with their supposed inability to focus on anything other than outhouse humor?

Dr. Robert Weis, a psychology professor at Denison University, confirmed this suspicion in a randomized controlled trial of the effect of video games on academic ability. Boys with video games at home, he found, spend more time playing them than reading, and their academic performance suffers substantially. Hard to believe, isn’t it, but Science has spoken.

The secret to raising boys who read, I submit, is pretty simple—keep electronic media, especially video games and recreational Internet, under control (that is to say, almost completely absent). Then fill your shelves with good books.

What do you guys think about his idea?

I love video games. ECM helps me to find ones that I will like, and then I play those very sparingly. So this year, I played “King’s Bounty: The Legend”, “Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway” and “Arma II: Operation Arrowhead” on PC, “Etrian Odyssey 2: Heroes of Lagaard” and “Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies” on my Nintendo DS.

And previously I played games like “Silent Storm: Sentinels”,  “Dangerous Waters”, “Silent Hunter IV: Wolves of the Pacific”, “Combat Mission: Afrika Korps”, “Hidden & Dangerous 2: Sabre Squadron”, “Steel Panthers: World at War”, “Harpoon”, “Full Spectrum Warrior: Ten Hammers”, and my favorite RPG, “Wizardry 8”.

So I basically like large-scale tactical squad-based first-person shooters, large-scale realistic military simulations, and 2D turn-based fantasy role-playing games.

But what I noticed is that picking games like these that are adventurous, and playing them modestly, really hasn’t stopped me from reading. So long as I can link the topics that I read with apologetics or with developing a Christian view of politics, economics, marriage, family, parenting and foreign policy, then it seems to me that my reading is just an extension of my game playing. Life is an adventure, and books are weapons.

Specifically, I like to be adventurous and to fight, and I read books that help me to be able to have a job in engineering so that I can travel the world, and also fight about science, philosophy, history and religion. Maybe the real problem is that boys don’t see books as adventuring tools. My married friends view their marriages as very adventurous and subversive – they are very serious about reading and planning things out.

MUST-READ: Why our schools are failing boys

An article from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Excerpt:

According to the federal department of human resources and skills development, 18 per cent of young men 18-24 were in university in 2005-06. The equivalent figure for young women was 28 per cent.

At the same time, the high school dropout rate for male students has remained consistently higher in recent decades than that for girls, another indicator that our education system is failing our boys.

[…]I am blaming “the system” for this because we shouldn’t be blaming young male students for the difficulties they face in what is arguably an increasingly female-programmed educational culture.

[…]”Classrooms keep getting set up more and more around the verbal and less around the kinesthetic and active,” says Michael Gurian author of Boys and Girls Learn Differently. “They are increasingly becoming environments that favour the girls’ brain.”

And as enticing as the notion may be to some radical feminists, we simply cannot re-engineer the male brain. From a teacher’s perspective, at least, boys and girls are simply different.

[…]In fiction, they like text that is funny and they like material with action and description. They also seem to like to solve problems.

So why do we not treat this male brain as a springboard from which we can set the groundwork for a new generation of male scientists, engineers, teachers, journalists and businessmen? As a change from our current one-size-fits-all approach.

Please, read the whole thing. This is a news story in the state-run media of a secular Marxist-feminist welfare state, people. HOLY. SNARK.

(Actually, CBC is less crappy than other state-run media like NPR, BBC and ABC – just look at this recent CBC article by Rex Murphy that ECM sent me about Harper’s decision to prorogue the Parliament)

Related posts

Does the education system discriminate against boys?

Check out this article from MercatorNet, about the plight of boys stuck in the feminized public schools.

Excerpt:

Men are now lagging women in every major category from lifestyle to health, from education to employment. For instance, on the health and lifestyle front, men are involved in twice as many fatal auto accidents as women. Good-bye to all those jokes about women drivers. Currently the US has 1.5 million men in the slammer, a 15 to 1 lead over the fairer sex. We guys are much more likely to be alcoholics and we are ahead in the obesity derby. No surprise, then, that on average women have a five-year lead in life span.

For decades now, feminists have been decrying the salary deferential that men have enjoyed. Perhaps this is so for men in their 40s and 50s, but no longer for the 20-something crowd. The playing field is now level, with the advantage held by the women when it is time to tighten the corporate belt and lay-offs occur. As our recession/depression deepens, bosses are laying off young male employees at a greater rate than young women. This employment data corresponds to staggering statistics showing that across the country girls and young women are dramatically out-schooling their male counterparts. Last September 58 percent of the entering freshman class at the nation’s colleges and universities was female.

However, not only is there a large gap in favor of women’s college attendance, but women go through college faster, with higher grades, more honors and fewer disciplinary setbacks. Currently, they are being admitted to elite graduate business and medical schools in greater numbers.

Other topics:

  • men’s apathy due to getting sex from women without having to prove themselves
  • the lack of fathers (caused by no-fault divorce and welfare programs)
  • the lack of male teachers in schools
  • the lack of male role models in the feminized curriculum
  • parents spending too much on video games and other distractions

This is a must-read for anyone who cares about men.

Other articles by this author

Books I am reading about education

Education Myths: What Special Interest Groups Want You to Believe About Our Schools – And Why It Isn’t So
by Jay P. Greene

The Worm in the Apple: How the Teacher Unions Are Destroying American Education
by Peter Brimelow

The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men
by Christina Hoff Sommers