by Dr. Donald Rominger, Jr.
As a mid-level college administrator in summer 1979, I had occasion to observe one of countless public school teacher seminars funded by the U. S. Department of Education. I was staggered by what I saw. The leaders, all having attended the same federal training events, were teaching that no intrinsic differences existed between boys and girls in emotional makeup, abilities, and aspirations. The thrust of this astonishing event was to take all gender-referenced materials out of the classroom and carefully replace them with curricula directing children to pursue gender-neutral learning activities. Activities learned by boys and girls from their families and other children were to be redirected.
Unapproved books were to be seized; traditional games stopped; and language monitored. Boys were encouraged to engage in traditional girls’ games, read girls stories, and play house. Any actions believed to encourage male leadership and adventure were to be stopped, nor were boys expected to treat girls as weaker or in need of protection. Girls’ vocational interests in marriage, nurturing, helping, and artistic professions were to be set aside for induced exposure to construction trades, engineering, and explorative careers. Professional articles claimed societal bias for boys’ substantial performance advantage in math and science, and elaborate measures were taken to eliminate that gap. Boys, naturally deficient in language skills, were to be discouraged even from speaking up in the classroom, for fear girls would be inhibited.
We are paying for the consequences of two decades of state sponsored indoctrination. Many recall the enforced substitution by education and the media of "person" or "chair" for ingrained references to "man" and the ubiquitous use of "men and women" for every male dominated pursuit. Typical is a 1999 story in NCAA News, in which a young female athlete, reflecting on the heroism of D-Day, attributed it not to men but to "those people." Professional groups have abandoned male ethical models, from Paul of Tarsus, Pericles, and Aquinas, to Emerson and Washington (both George and Booker T.) simply because of their gender. Ethicist Christina Hoff Sommers says education is waging a "... War Against Boys" and indicates that young men are being discouraged from seeing themselves as noble or heroic, which poses a real danger to societal leadership. We have seen a rapid decline in male college enrollments to just over 40% of undergraduates. Male learning motives, driven by investigation, analysis, and leadership have been sacrificed at the altars of multi-culturalism and social change.
Nor is the media much help. Entertainment often portrays men as fools unable to control their emotions. They are thoughtless and bumbling, easily provoked or led around by women lawyers in miniskirts. The media portray men as transfixed to simple minded visual images and interested in purchasing gadgets that amplify the number of hours they are influenced by play. Advertisements frequently make use of the sight gag of a man getting hit painfully in the groin, an overt symbol of emasculation.
Jodie Allen, in a June 23, 2003 edition of U.S. News and World Report, suggested that men have become obsolete (italics mine). Quoting Business Week and the sensationalist CBS television show "60 Minutes," she touts girls as having nearly surpassed boys in the intellectual disciplines, law, and medicine, and declares that boys can claim domination only in the dubious categories of remedial education, prescriptive stimulants, suicide, and violent crime. She says that value for male physical strength in the industrial economy will soon be outmoded in the service sector, which makes up 83% of the U.S. economy and will in the future be dominated by women. While admitting that male tendencies for assertiveness and daring have led to success in construction, science, the arts, and corporate development, she claims that this has been outweighed by their propensity for fraud. She sees the only predictable occupational future for men to be in leisure time activities and fighting wars.
Ms. Allen’s dark outlook is framed by real developments in American society and culture. These changes have been nurtured through the juxtaposition of two social science phenomena: bureaucratization and behaviorist social psychology. The first is the propensity of non-elected federal agency heads in the Office of Civil Rights and Education Department to interpret decades-old legislation based on their own doctrinal dispositions. The second is the utilizing of rewards and fear of official sanctions to force acceptance of ideas and practices that could never have been adopted through normal social action. These gain momentum by the sway that the media exercise over popular knowledge, fueled by inadequate public understanding over the origin, role, and powers of government.
Now that public education itself is suspect in filling student needs for leadership, moral development, and critical appraisal, shouldn’t one be able to turn to the free market? Think again. Few church-related colleges concern themselves with ethics and life-style issues. Those that do usually have one or two required Bible classes, and at their core, except for phrasing in a Christian context, concern themselves with agenda borrowed from their state supported cousins. Some studies conclude that there is no discernable difference in moral and ethical decision making skills and beliefs between Christian and non-Christian students.
Solutions to many of these problems lie in educating young men to think well through bypassing the messages they receive. This must be done by emphasizing the attributes in which they excel, explaining the problems that present danger, and bolstering them in the communication domain. Young men will not wait around where their assertiveness is denied. They need arenas offering obstacle and challenge, with opportunities for teamwork, analysis, and problem solving; their visual stimulation harnessed to spiritual and cognitive appraisal, and their desire for nobility expressed in leadership and Christian faith. We must use atypical methods to reclaim our young men.
A pioneer college program called the CrossRoads Academy has been designed to address these core issues and has focused its attention upon male students. Located in Moore, Oklahoma, just north of Norman on Interstate Highway 35, the Academy presumes the interest of many males in leadership and analytical thinking and has developed a program to transcend societal images damaging to men. Nine months in length, it is centered upon male learning styles. The curriculum leans heavily on communication and communication theory, constitutional government and field observation. It seeks young men desirous of developing leadership skills. Its rigorous program is accompanied by emphases in physical fitness and spiritual formation, including team sports, lifestyle management, and personal etiquette. Its portability is truly unique, and it establishes a model that is sure to be copied. The CrossRoads Academy promises to challenge the young man of the 21st century to stand tall and become "salt and light" wherever he may complete his college degree.- D.R.
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