The War on Boys continues? School shootings result?

I have a sneaking suspicion that the emotion driven, reason challenged, frenzy in the media about gun control has something to do with decades of systematic work in academia to emasculate boys and men.

Yes, sheer unethical politics is a factor, for political tactics are like water on a pavement: they finds every crack.

I want, for example, to know more about the connection not just with video games and the people who go to shoot up schools, malls or theaters, but also their connection with prescription drugs (you want to go there and read that!), which can often start in school because of some teacher.

I read this on LifeSite:

Eliminating feminist teacher bias erases boys’ falling grades, study finds

January 17, 2013, ( – Has the Sexual Revolution, and the feminist ideology that drives it, pushed men out of universities by undermining boys in school as early as kindergarten? Some writers are beginning to connect the dots between the shift over the last few decades in educational practices from fact-based grading to evaluation based on “non-cognitive” and “emotional skills” and the drop in school performance of boys.

In the 1970s, feminist critics regularly complained that the school system favored “male thinking.” Facts, dates, rote learning, and math skills that were seen as “too masculine” for girls. In the intervening decades, feminists have made huge strides throughout the Western world, and education – particularly in the training of teachers – has been transformed as a result.

That most government policy makers and academics accept this as an unqualified success has left bewilderment as to how the new, more “fair” teaching styles have resulted in poor outcomes for boys and ultimately for the men they must become.


Read the rest there.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. mamajen says:

    Not only prescription drugs, but illegal drugs as well (or perhaps the combination?). Marijauna keeps coming up in cases of extreme violence, yet because conventional wisdom says it causes people to “peace out”, it can’t possibly be part of the problem…and the same people who want our guns are clamoring for its legalization.

  2. Banjo pickin girl says:

    the Catholic press is pretty late on this. Joanne Jacobs’s blog has been dealing with this issue for years.

  3. anilwang says:

    It’s not only feminist teachers….Feminizing teachers are also a problem.

    Back when I was in grades 1-3, I was in taught by extremely sweet nuns who genuinely cared for the children, but they were so soft that I was at the bottom of the class. The response from the nuns (This poor child needs even more help) made things worse. It wasn’t until grade 4 when I got a lay Catholic male teacher that things turned around. His response? He accepted no excuses. “Do your best” and “I know that’s not your best” was his main mottoes. He wasn’t a drill sergeant, just a principled non-nonsense father of several children. Under him, I went from the bottom of the class to the top and stayed there.

    Boys need positive no-nonsense non-feminized male role models, but failing that, the old “nuns with the rulers” non-nonsense female role models. The problem is, the old feminized teachers have grown softer in both sexes and the “nuns with the rulers” have been replaced by feminist “boys are just deficient girls” teachers of both sexes. The results have lead to the society we have today.

  4. AnAmericanMother says:

    I’ve got some experience with this . . . my youngest is “all boy” and was miserable in the feminized schools (where they tried to “understand” him and then wanted to drug him) until we found him a good small private school with plenty of vigorous activity for boys and a lot of strong male role models – including veterans, former law enforcement, sport shooter, judo expert . . . that turned the tide. Then he asked us to be allowed to enlist in the Marines upon graduation, and after conferring with his teachers and our priest, we sent him off. He thrives on the discipline and order, and is now a remarkably responsible young man with a handsome and accomplished wife and adorable baby girl.
    On the other topic . . . I surmise that many of these drugs are involved in antisocial behavior because they are a “quick fix” for part of the problem. They “fix” the depression but that enables the person to take action . . . .

  5. wmeyer says:

    I was raised in a very small town, and public school is all there was (and is), but I was lucky to have an elderly old-maid teacher in first grade who patrolled the room ruler in hand. She rarely used it, but that rare use was sufficient to infuse in the rest of us a deep desire to avoid the experience. She was also generous with her praise when a student excelled. In grade two, the teacher was not an old-maid, but was strict and determined. Those two school years were the basis of my formation as a student. I was also lucky that phonics was taught in grade two. a dozen years later, my younger brothers were not so lucky, either in teacher quality or in curriculum.

  6. AnAmericanMother says:

    Thank heavens I was taught phonics!!!!

  7. fvhale says:

    I went to public schools in California (Los Angeles Unified School District, California Community College, University of California).

    When I was a little boy, my mother was my first and best teacher. She is the one who taught me to read and write, and arithmetic. And my father insisted that after school I study, at home. He did not care so much What I studied, just that I studied something, and he provided me with books. The public school teachers were, IMHO, little more than babysitters (some nice, some who hated children).

    By the time I was in public high school, school was more of a “danger zone” and “obstacle course,” with only a few better teachers in 3.5 years of public schools. Again, most of what I learned, I learned on my own, at home or in the library.

    Sadly, college and university were little better, as far as teachers and what I got “from the school.” Professors were busy with their gigantic self images, for the most part. Some were vicious. Some were on drugs. Some were busy having affairs with other professors already married to other professors. Some were clearly insane, but tenured. Even in college, most of what I learned I learned on my own, either through my own study or work. Eventually I graduated with honors, etc., but it was just a mindless jumping through the academic hoops, as I had already been working in my field for six years by then.

    I think that “dysfunctional” aptly describes most public schools, from kindergarten to graduate school, and that is after working for public colleges and universities most of my life.

    And, sadly, most of the “catechetics” I experienced in the Church, apart from a few new, young catechists absolutely in love with the Church and faithful to the Magisterium, are not much better. So many Catholics have been “deformed” by poor catechesis and formation. Again, I do my own reading and study.

    I firmly believe that education is, first the responsibility of parents and family, and then the responsibility of the individual. Many educational institutions, secular or religious, are rotten in many ways. Perhaps the economics of the early 21st century will prune down some of the diseased bloat that built up in the late 20th century in the institutions (so many feeding endlessly on government funded student bodies and minds).

  8. Fabula Rasa says:

    As an educator this is a topic of intense interest to me, and it’s not ignored by teachers or by any professional educators that I know of. (“Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys” was a book that always merited a seminar or two, for instance.) I am having a hard time thinking of any graded assignment that assesses “non-cognitive” skills, so I don’t think that our grading standards have shifted radically, though I note with dismay the dismissal of rote memorization as a lower-rung pedagogical tool. I will add that the heyday of that kind of dismissal is behind us, however, and the last decade has seen the pendulum begin to swing back the other direction, at least in the better schools. There are two factors that contribute to the recent poor showing of males in education:

    a) Girls are better at school. Notice I don’t say girls are smarter. But the sort of thing we expect of young children in school (and these expectations, by the way, long predate the full entrance of girls into schools) is the sort of thing that young girls are just better at: sitting still for long periods of time, paying careful attention to detail, etc. The sort of no-nonsense classroom, for example, that Shakespeare sat in. It was our standard Western educational model for hundreds (more probably thousands) of years. And sure, boys did fine at it, because there weren’t any little girls sitting next to them doing it obnoxiously better. Boys can sit still, focus intently, and pay careful attention too, generally at about age 13-14 or so; by then most organizational and behavioral advantages have been evened out, and the playing field is more level. Trouble is, by then many boys have internalized a sense of failure at school, and this becomes a lifelong problem. An obvious solution is same-sex schooling at the younger grade levels, and in fact many independent schools separate the sexes for English and math in the middle school years, when the difference in developmental level is most acute.

    b) We decided recess was not terribly important. In the classical model of education (again, think Shakespeare’s classroom), the extreme physical constraint of the classroom was balanced by plenty of wide-open, full-bore, no-holds-barred outdoor play — the sort of thing where you shove kids out the door with a sharpened stick and a bag of rocks and say, have at it. But as our curriculum has become more crowded – i.e., as we have decided that the solution to our educational woes is MORE STUFF, and SOONER, ignoring the data that says the world’s best schools (Finland, Japan, the Netherlands) actually delay reading – we have steadily squeezed out opportunities for physical activity in the school day, or offloaded that to afternoon sports. The result is that boys who already feel a little “less than” compared to Perfect Polly Pigtail sitting next to them and drawing curlicues on her name now face even more of an uphill battle to contain themselves and channel their formidable physical energy into equally formidable intellectual energy.

    A final anecdote: in my career I am privileged to teach both middle schoolers and high schoolers. In low-level language class, I always ask them to write vocabulary cards. When they hand these in to be checked, I don’t need to see names to identify who wrote what: the girls’ cards are painfully neat, the letters are ruler-straight, decorative unicorns dance along the edge, and they’re likely written in scented purple pen, whereas the boys’ cards look like they were scrawled in pencil while locked in the trunk of a moving car, with a flashlight clutched in their teeth and their hands and feet bound. However, by the time these same students are high schoolers tackling Ovid and Horace, those differences are completely gone, and if they exist at all, they exist in the opposite direction: the same boys whose homework used to look like the work of a serial killer now are the ones most adept at translation, with brains arguably better suited to the sort of work I am asking of them. My point is that most educators don’t get to occupy my relatively privileged position of seeing the full sweep of the developmental spectrum. Girls do well in school because we reward their early success with praise, and being praised makes you want to do even better, as it should. Boys get too little of that reinforcement now, and same-sex elementary schools that could help with that are what you might call thin on the ground. There are no easy solutions in sight, I’m afraid.

  9. chantgirl says:

    anilwang- As a homeschooler, I have often thought that I need the equivalent of a nun-with-a-ruler trunk monkey, like the commercials with the trunk monkey that comes out and fixes some problem. My hubby is brilliant in the areas of science and math, but cannot spell to save his life. Sadly, some of my children, and not just boys, have inherited this handicap. There are days when I want to call in the nun with a ruler!

    fvhale- “clearly insane, but tenured..” LOL. I’m waiting for the masked poultry fellow to chime in here on his compatriots.

    In the current public school system I see a new push- to focus heavily on math and science to the exclusion of literature and logic. It seems the new model is trending toward graduates that can get jobs, but not question the cultural and governmental system in which they function. They are to be cogs who don’t think too deeply about the social order.

  10. Michaeleus says:

    How can you expect boys to do well in a feminised educational system? Square peg/round hole.

    Bad analogy maybe, but you get the point.

    Single gender instruction…better.

    My mom was in Catholic schools in the 50’s and early 60’s..nuns all the way through…she was tops in her classes. She was very smart…and was ready for co-ed college…in which she excelled too.

    I always remember a friend of mine, who is about 15 years younger than me (grew up in the late 80’s) that he was a Ritalin Zombie until they (or he) took him off of it..only because he was high spirited. He is a well-adjusted young man, married with a great family and great job…no Ritalin.

    To me, public education is seriously flawed, and the generation that medicated itself during the 1960’s is now running it and wanting to medicate your and my children. We pay for these schools with our taxes…we should have a say in what our kids experience!

  11. LisaP. says:

    One thing folks don’t realize normally is that Ritalin is a stimulant (there’s a reason for that, stimulants focus the mind, think coffee or adrenaline).

  12. PA mom says:

    Yes, I was thinking these sort of thoughts the other day when I heard about the boy who was bullied who shot the “popular” kid.
    Thinking about how little effort it would probably have taken on the part of anyone, parents, teachers, other students, for him to have had the smallest piece of happiness that he needed.
    I think that it is the over emphasis on “perfect” that is most messing up kids. Not in the scholastic sense, the every answer is right in some way nonsense. No, in the behavior category where boys and girls can make mistakes, and then other children and teachers have them marked forever.
    My own daughter had a bad social year in school that she has still never recovered from, and no one seems to go out of their way to invite her back in. I don’t know why that should be acceptable at a Catholic school especially, but there is this sense of, ” you can’t make them!”
    How open of a heart can they have and still leave her feeling so alone?

  13. MichaelJ says:

    As the father of three boys, I have some anecdotal experience indicating that there are other factors (more important, in my opinion) that explain the drop in school performance of boys.
    Yes, non-cognitive, emotional, and behavioral skills are a far more important measure of performance today than they were back when I was in elementary school, but the shift in focus goes far beyond different skill sets.
    Instead, the shift in focus is a kind of “reverse discrimination” onto girls themselves to the exclusion of boys.
    I think it’s a great idea to encourage, praise and push girls to perform better, but not if it means ignoring boys. That is what happened in the elementary schools my boys attended.

  14. Laura98 says:

    Oh my… where to begin. I can point out another education blog which covers this subject quite well – Kitchen Table Math: The Sequel (I am on there as Laura in AZ)

    The curriculum has changed so much over the past 40-50 years, it is hardly recognizable from what it once was. Teaching styles have also changed. It has become fashionable for kids to basically teach themselves, especially K-6. The teachers are basically facilitators or the “Guide on the Side.” If you look through modern textbooks or workbooks, all the work is group work, there is hardly, if ever any individual work. Girls generally do better at group work.

    When you take a closer look at the curriculum used in this group work, and at what is asked of the students, you see that it is also slanted in favor of girls, even in science and math. Questions often ask about how the student feels about the subject or how they think the person in the story feels. If it’s science, most of it has been co-opted by the environmental movement. For instance, they might ask how the animal feels now that it’s forest home has been destroyed by the home-builders (I kid you not). Even in math, the student is subjected to stories and writing such as how would it feel to be a number “4,” not to learning numbers, and facts, such as most of us did in school.

    This sort of curriculum is making its way into Jr. High and even High School. And, I’m not even including the general dumbing down of what students learn and lowering of expectations. It’s no wonder that many children, boys and girls, simply give up on school. I know I would have. I couldn’t take that sort of stupid stuff in school as I have a pretty low tolerance level for … erm… junk. It is in the Catholic Schools too… one of the reasons why I pulled my daughter out of her school and started homeschooling her.

  15. Margaret says:

    We need to be very careful about demonizing those eeeevil, psychotropic medications. The fact that a certain number of violent actions have been carried out by people taking them may in fact be a symptom rather than a cause. I suspect if we had the data we would also note that a disproportionate number of people engaging in random acts of violence had had a negative disciplinary encounter (school, work, law enforcement, whatever) within 90 days of the violent outburst. That disciplinary encounter would probably not be a cause either, but reflective of the fact that the people around the perps observed troubling behavior in the days and months leading up to the violence and intervened in some fashion, either medically or disciplinary.

    There really is enough stigma associated with mental illness already. I have two close, beloved family members who are thankfully not crippled by panic attacks as they previously were, thanks to nasty, scary psychotropic meds.

  16. Johnno says:

    The best solution is to bring back segregated schools or at least segregated classrooms for boys and girls where each can be raised and taught in the most beneficial manner. Especially when they’re young. Boys and girls are different. The sooner society gets that through their head, the better off we’ll be. But to even suggest this will be a gasping insult to those ‘gender-neutral’ folks. And we can inevitably sit back and wait for the lawsuits to come rolling in when parents who’s child believes or is raised to believe he/she’s of the opposite gender demand their child be accepted as such and put in the opposite classroom.

    Hate to say it folks, but the problem isn’t going away, because society today doesn’t want to solve the problem, they’ve very happy with the set-up because it helps reinforce the genderless and therefore immoral pigsty they prefer to live in.

  17. The Masked Chicken says:

    I had much to say, but the wi-fi has been funky, today and so, it has been difficult to post. Needless to say, the education industry has found no better teaching methods than those known by 200 B. C., but they have to look like they are doing something to get paid, so they invent one new kooky technique after another. One reason I never got a teaching license is that I would have to sit in graduate education courses, but I know how to do research and I would just waste my time and theirs by pointing out the problems in their studies. Modern educational theory is an exercise in Feynman’s Cargo Cult Science:

    In his speech, he says:

    “We’ve learned from experience that the truth will come out. Other experimenters will repeat your experiment and find out whether you were wrong or right. Nature’s phenomena will agree or they’ll disagree with your theory. And, although you may gain some temporary fame and excitement, you will not gain a good reputation as a scientist if you haven’t tried to be very careful in this kind of work. And it’s this type of integrity, this kind of care not to fool yourself, that is missing to a large extent in much of the research in Cargo Cult Science…The first principle is that you must not fool yourself–and you are the easiest person to fool. So you have to be very careful about that. After you’ve not fooled yourself, it’s easy not to fool other scientists. You just have to be honest in a conventional way after that.”

    Laura98 is describing Constructivism – the latest fad, which is now being worked in with the Khan Academy’s, “Flipped Classroom,” where students learn by video and do nothing but discuss and work problems in class. It is an epic fail, since if the child misconstructs the universe on his own, then you have not one, but two problems – you have to show why his version is wrong and then show him the right version. Why not just show him the right version in the first place? The Spiritual Work of Mercy is instructing the ignorant, not letting the ignorant ignorantly instruct himself.

    Slashdot had an article on January 4 on why girls do better in school than boys. It may be found, here:

    Essentially, girls don’t perform better, but they socialize the teacher better, who then gives them higher grades.

    Most of the kookiness until lately has been confined to the non-accountable humanities courses – English and History. How many English teachers virtually force their students to write an argumentative paper on the topic-du-jour and then castigate those who hold traditional values? History teachers love to exaggerate the influence of women in history, but they, somehow, can never be brought to acknowledge Joan of Arc. I was reading a good, non-biased history text a while back that was talking about the rise of the Burgundian Court and the fracturing of Central Europe in the 1300’s in long flowing paragraphs. Then, the book stops and inserts a paragraph of one sentence. It read:

    Then, came Joan of Arc.

    That sent shivers up my spine. Oh, no, the kooky history teachers would have to talk about her faith in God and her purity of character. They would never do that, but hey, THAT is real feminism.

    Thankfully, the liberal wing can’t really touch undergrad sciences and performing arts. Nature doesn’t really care how you feel about the combination of salt peter, sulfur, and charcoal. If you mix them in the right proportions, it WILL explode once ignited and it doesn’t give a damn how much it hurts your feelings!

    In music, if you can’t play the part, they ask you to leave. No one gets coddled.

    The major problem in modern education is that it is delusional and unlike some of the students, you can’t treat it with a pill. I tend to get grouchy talking about this topic. Some poor kid gets bullied, so he takes a gun to school. Where the heck were the parents? “Oh, we didn’t know.” Why not? “Johnny, doesn’t talk to us.” No, idiots, Johnny doesn’t trust that he can talk to you and you know why – because you never gave him a reason to. In my house, when we messed up, we knew a spanking (not the idiotic time-out) was coming. We trusted that like cause-and-effect. Our parents were consistent and logical in how they treated us, so, we knew we could trust them. They weren’t perfect, but we knew they had our backs.

    It might be easy to say that kids from broken homes perpetuate most of the bullying in schools, but the stupid teachers, instead of going after the parents, try to treat the kids. Doesn’t anyone see the connection between the deterioration in Christian marriage and the rise of violence in schools, except me? No. Psychologists would rather re-define marriage than admit what is staring them in the face. Useless.

    There is no war on boys. There is a war on the Truth. Boys are just caught in the cross-fire, collateral damage. It might amuse some to look up the Sokal Affair. A New York University physics professor wrote a nonsensical paper with the title: Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity”, published in, the Social Text, Spring/Summer 1996 “Science Wars” issue. It had all the right left-wing trigger words. When the hoax was exposed, so was the nudity of post-Modernism.

    I could write more, but why waste time on something that my grousing won’t change. Until honesty, accountability, and integrity become watchwords in modern education, again, until Socrates is willing to die for teaching the truth, all we can do is grit our teeth (you know they are coming after the home schoolers, next, don’t you?).

    By the way, my twin sibling (yes, there are two of us), co-wrote one of the high school science cirricula (won’t say which) for the state that has the highest education scores in the country (sorry for being vague – it comes with the mask). I can gurrantee that they don’t hold hands and sing in that subject in that state. This topic is not theoretical, for me.

    The Chicken

  18. The Masked Chicken says:

    Oh, about psychotropic drugs. While some of them do work, there is a certain shamanistic quality about current psychopharmacology, given that they have little provable idea of how these medications really work. They just try millions of them and occasionally find some that give a response that seems useful. That’s okay. I can live with that.

    What I can’t live with is the claim that this is science except of the most trail-and-error type. Some of these drugs have been over-sold to the public with a certain smugness that they are scientific cure-alls (Prozac, I’m looking at you!). I do mathematical modeling of the neural processing of humor in the brain (and depression – although I don’t publish in that area – no good empirical data of the type I need to prove or disprove the theory exists, yet), so I am up on the state-of-the-art on the science. There ain’t much (there are many more studies relating to depression than humor, but it seems that few have realized that the neural processing of tragedy and humor use exactly the same areas of the brain), although I can see the mountains in the distance, unlike thirty years, ago.

    Ritalin, is another story. Not only do we not know exactly what ADHD is, it is virtually impossible to confirm a diagnosis except with a brain scan and that is controversial. Certain things like low dose lead poisoning can mimic ADD, but how many guidance counselors know that? How many would send the kid to a doctor for testing? No, they diagnose ADD by observation, for the most part. I have had students in my college classes who have been diagnosed with ADHD and we have spent some time talking.

    I don’t want to start a scientific food fight. These are simply my opinions. Who knows whether they are correct.

    My rule: use medication if you must, but try to avoid it, if possible. I think that seems prudent.

    The Chicken

  19. The Masked Chicken says:

    Have a longer comment in moderation. Maybe I do need an editor :)

    The Chicken

  20. wmeyer says:

    Ritalin, is another story. Not only do we not know exactly what ADHD is, it is virtually impossible to confirm a diagnosis except with a brain scan and that is controversial.

    My working theory about the epidemic of ADHD is that it is more a reflection of teachers who can’t excite the interest of their students than a real medical or mental health issue. As far as I can see, the increase in reports of ADHD seems to be in inverse proportion to the quality of public education. But hey, I am no scientist, and thankfully, not a teacher. ;)

  21. wmeyer says:

    Have a longer comment in moderation. Maybe I do need an editor :)

    Hmmmmm…. ;)

    Oh, surely not!

  22. NoTambourines says:

    I agree that the prescription drugs are often over-prescribed, and used as a labor-saving device to avoid the inconvenience of cognitive behavioral therapy, but also to save face and keep things private. I suspect many parents would rather give little Johnny a pill with breakfast at home than take him to see somebody.

    That said, there are people who are helped by such drugs, and I’m one of them. This time last year, I was suffering from severe depression and anxiety. I remember driving home the night of 1/3/2012 desperately trying to rationalize to myself that I wasn’t better off dead. While therapy is definitely necessary, taking the medication felt like it was simply putting back something that was missing. The meds won’t put the barn back together, but they’ll help stop the tornado.

    Other things to consider in the cases of childhood behavior are the situation at home, the proliferation of one-parent households (usually dad-less), the breakdown in discipline at home and at school, and, I daresay… the birth control pill. I’m already nuts, so I hope no one will think I’m nuttier if I speculate that’s a major un-turned stone in the explosion of what are known as the “4A” disorders: Allergies, Asthma, Autism, and ADHD.

  23. JuliaSaysPax says:

    My k-8 school had a rather terrible case of “boys are bad”. When the class got rowdy, the response was to bench all of the boys at recess (you can imagine how that backfired). We had huge portions of our grade based on the neatness of our notebooks and how pretty the cover pages of reports and things were, rather than actual content. When it came to disciplinary issues, boys would be suspended or given standards or benched, while girls would be told that it was just a “learning experience”. All this and more led to people saying things like “Well, you know they love my class, only 8 boys” and “Hah! Your class has no chance of getting to keep your 8th grade trip! You’ve got mostly boys!” (See, even the kids noticed). In the end, most boys graduated with much, much worse grades than the girls, but it all evened out in high school, when most of us went to single-sex schools.

  24. mike cliffson says:

    Interested in the masked chickens stuff.
    Bottom line: thou shalt not have strange gods before me.
    Strange is about right, not to say downright peculiar.
    Stateside I only know by rumour, but all my life uk and spanish educational bureaucrats and public education been worshipping stranger gods than wider society, and well ahead of em. (Western society at large mainly goes for mammon I think) .
    Molech demands and gets human sacrifices in the womb, we’d have a hard job educating the survivors even with a few more canonizable examples of heroic sanctity amongst teachers, most of whom, my workmates and colleaugues I meet, arent too bad as human beings,whose performance is well below what it could be were assumtions and criteria different. Yeah,big of me to make such judgements -but it’s practical judgement as a father.
    Semindependant schools can do better – but things are done for the photo; to avoid the complaint the press can blow up, you spend more time keeping your back and your institutions out of any claimable cause than actually teaching; for the supposed vote winner; for the benefit of the handinglove union chairborne administrator setup; the infection spreads to schools with”catholic” over the door. The system serves neither kids nor parents from even the worldliest point of view.
    Secualrist ideas demand blood, not in this case so physical , but in the form of childrens minds’ and futures, which is visible. Their Sous ? Satan is a ravening wolf ,after souls, presumably these are ways he’ll get em.
    As a father , I d sack the LOT from the top ministers to the last janitor , and start over, which would leave me on the street myself and wife and kids homeless , if not starving.
    (the church feeds people here, no recognition, no thanks, just emptier cemeteries.).
    And start over –
    which if the Lord don’t build the house , in vain toil the labourers.
    Johnson comonsensedly remarked to a more reform minded Boswell, re university reform , regarding a number of issues, that moral fibre is important, if what is at fault is the people, the best imaginable system won’t work, whereas (not quite his words) Christian can make ANY system work.

    Cf re boys especially, UK
    Not news: no nature walks, no snowballing, no fun at all, mostly in school, been happening for years.
    There’s a viral video of a pair of catholic schoolteesn, round 13.14, Durham, she hits him repeatedly,” he refuses to hit lasses”.
    Kids leaving ukprimary school “physically illiterate.
    And what the regs I work under are…

  25. majuscule says:

    Masked Chicken wrote:

    there are many more studies relating to depression than humor, but it seems that few have realized that the neural processing of tragedy and humor use exactly the same areas of the brain

    My life experience demonstrates this! Thanks for bringing it up!

  26. Therese says:

    Regarding school shootings…how long before pistol-packing Fr. Z is swamped by offers from Catholic schools hoping not to become the next Sandy Hook?

    –A gunsmith’s granddaughter

  27. LisaP. says:


    The study some time back that pointed out how the birth control pill distorts our natural instincts regarding mate selection, because it messes with our chemical signals, seems to have obvious implications for all the rising chronic conditions that are gene-driven.

  28. LisaP. says:

    Depression, anxiety, ADHD, etc. are real, and they are physical. I don’t know of anyone who takes medication for any of these things who does it lightly — the image of the mom preferring to throw a pill at a kid is popular, but it’s often not the way it goes. For one thing, there are side effects to ADHD medicine that make it even harder for parents in some cases once the kid gets home — the school only cares about him sitting still, they don’t have to deal with the fact that he now won’t eat. I know moms who take their kids off the drugs on the weekends to give their boys a break from the side effects. But they’re so harried by the school they feel their kid will fail in the system if they don’t do what the professionals tell them to do during the week. I know a special ed teacher who was fired from a school because she protested the number of kids that were being strongly advised to medicate by the principal. Worse than chicken’s example of a counselor being unable to diagnose properly, many kids are being “diagnosed” by administrators who then send them to a doctor they know is friendly to medicating.

    These drugs can by symptom relievers. But if a surgeon in the field was treating a man with a broken leg and gave him morphine, he wouldn’t stop treating him simply because the guy didn’t complain any more. I’ve been around long enough to know many women who have been on anti-depressants for decades, and they reach a point where they are switching medicines, adding medicines, or upping the dosage every few months; they can’t go off the morphine because the leg has now set itself wrong and the pain is too great, but they need higher and higher levels which begin to cause major problems from side effects, and the morphine never works quite as well as it did the first time. It’s really an area where medicine and education has dropped the ball.

  29. Harriet Vane says:

    Kids don’t have psychological problems, adults do! That’s what used to be taught in medical school, according to our family doc. Somewhere along the line, we decided to invent ADD/ADHD (to control our boys) and fibromyalgia (for the woman bringing them in for their Ritalin (amphetamines). Take it from a 20-smthg raised in public school. The drugs destroyed the boys. They became twitching, social outcasts, while their caregivers got sympathy for being hysterical hypochondriacs.

  30. Cecily says:

    I worked for a while as a public high school biology teacher, so I looked at that list of drugs the perps were taking with the eyes of an interested educator trained in the scientific method. (I have also taught elementary school). I did not see ritalin on the list, though I admit I skimmed it quickly. All that list told me is that depressed people have been going on violent rampages. This is not a surprise. Those perps often also had messed up families and/or were into ideas or practices that were less than Christian. What came first, the chicken (depression) or the egg (an attempt to correct the chemical imbalance with a drug)? (Sorry, Chicken, that was not a personal comment). Let’s see some peer-reviewed studies. Let’s see more than one.

    These drugs are tricky. They work for many people, but not for all. Sometimes it takes many tries to find the right drug for a loved one. This can take years, so sometimes they are in so much pain they give up and kill themselves before a solution can be found. It is very painful to watch a loved one in this downward spiral. I have seen it more than once in my family.

    I am a member of a very large family (I have 14 uncles/aunts) that has seen mental illness passed down now in four generations. Every family has one or two children who are mentally ill. Their siblings are doctors, lawyers, etc. The medical doctors in the family believe it is a dominant gene. Some of those mentally ill family members committed suicide, some did not. The suicidal ones did not take their medication. The well adjusted ones did/do. One example: I had two uncles who were bipolar. They were both M.D.’s. In those days, they were afraid to get medication because they feared losing their medical licenses. One did not take any meds. He committed suicide. The other, who lived on the other side of the country, went to a neighboring town and somehow got on meds semi-anonymously. He began an important and successful department at a big hospital, had many children and a successful marriage, lived a long life, and was the pillar of our huge family. His children are practicing the faith. There are other family members who were helped very much by medication. We’re watching the same scenario now work out in the younger generations. As one of my cousins, an MSW and practicing therapist, says, “Take your meds! We’ve had three suicides and two murders in our family because people haven’t been on their meds. If you don’t take your meds, I’m coming up there on my broom.”

    Meds help so many people. What that list tells me is that, sadly, they don’t help everyone.

    My conclusion from watching scenarios in my family is this: The mentally ill who BOTH take their meds and hold tightly to Jesus are the ones who are able to live a normal life. Regarding my two mentally ill M.D. uncles: the one who committed suicide did not appear to me to take his faith seriously. The successful doctor prayed the liturgy of the hours and went to Mass daily. He also went on medical mission trips.

    We are at a very primitive stage of understanding mental illness, and the drugs are primitive. But they do help many people. It’s too bad they don’t help all. But drugs aren’t the only factor.

    For more information, NAMI is a great organization, and has helped a lot of people in my family.

  31. Cecily says:

    The Johnson O’Connor Research Foundation reports that clerical speed is necessary for success in today’s schools, and that girls are, in general, much better at clerical tasks than boys. They consider this a large factor in discrepancy of boy/girl performance. Obviously this is not the only factor, but it is an interesting one. Teachers…let’s work in more non-clerical assignments!

  32. wmeyer says:

    I do not doubt that mental illness, or ADD and ADHD exist–what I doubt is that these things are epidemic among school children. However, if they are (and this does not appear to have been the case 50 years ago) then we must examine what has changed. The quality of education has been hugely degraded. Many teachers don’t and won’t make the effort to engage the imagination of their students. Schools of education have concocted all manner of unproved theories, then used our children as guinea pigs. I am old enough to have escaped most of that nonsense, but my youngest brother was a victim of the International Teaching Alphabet. Initial gains were more than offset by the depressing crash when the kids were removed from ITA and had to re-learn to recognize words.

    And there is that whole-word recognition madness. The antithesis of phonics. If phonics teaches us to recognize how our language is constructed, then whole-word most surely teaches us not to understand.

    If I could, I would return McGuffey’s readers to the classrooms, and remove every “improved method” applied in the last 80 years, at least. And purge thoroughly anything founded on the theories of John Dewey.

  33. Cecily says:

    There are multiple issues in education. I think the current crisis is caused by:

    1. Christ has been expelled.
    2. Families are a mess, and the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
    3. Schools of Education and principals do not believe in discipline. Teachers who use a reasonable amount of discipline are, themselves, disciplined. And I’m not talking anything extreme…no standing in the corner or rulers. Just things like a principal saying, “So and so was crying in my office, and it’s your fault she’s crying (and taking up my time) because you told her she can’t keep interrupting class multiple times. You, teacher, must change your ways and be sure you never say anything that will make a child (spoiled brat) cry (have a tantrum because she knows it will work).”
    4. The dumbed down curriculum bores children.
    5. Children are less motivated to work because so much is done in groups. It’s easy to sit like a lump and slide through on the work of one child in your group of 5. I’ve seen it happen in many elementary classes while subbing. The motivated kids resent it. I had a top student and his mother decide he wasn’t going to come to the last two weeks of school because he didn’t want to do a group project for this reason. (We were doing a group project because the teacher I replaced had it all planned and it was too late to do something different). We were taught research says group work promotes more learning for all concerned. I doubt that research is accurate.
    6. I was told in my Education Master’s degree program that if a child is acting up it is my fault because I am not making the material interesting enough. That is nonsense. We had plenty of boring rote lessons in my Catholic elementary school, and nobody acted up. For example, not one of the fifty first graders in my class acted up. Ever. You got that right…one teacher, 50 first graders.

    You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, especially when the teacher is not allowed to maintain order. Instead, s/he must cater to all these disturbed kids from broken homes, drug homes, alcoholic homes, etc. Let’s stop blaming the teacher!

    I no longer teach in the public schools because I can’t stand it any more.

  34. Minnesotan from Florida says:

    It was interesting to me, when I taught Horace’s Odes when I was a graduate assistant, that on examinations where I set “Give the context” questions for things like splendide mendax or simplex munditiis or non humilis mulier, the women tended to write at length and the men to write with succinct brevity (in both cases,when wrong as well as when right!).

    When I was in elementary school (1942-1948), or at any rate when I was in grades, say, 4-6 (1945-1948), the girls were the “better students,” and I as a boy was a bit bullied for being a very “good student.” (The situation changed when I moved from the university demonstration school in the middle of seventh grade to the regular school-district school; that I changed in midyear shows “in how much pain” I was.) Thus the feminists’ perception in the late 1960’s that boys were favored, which I am only now learning of, bemuses me. My teachers in grades 1-12 were mostly women, of a sensible and mature type whether old or young, and exemplified, I think, true nondiscriminatoriness. At that time the few men teachers tended to be losers. This is probably because there was indeed discrimination in the adult job world and women seldom went for a doctorate and college teaching.

    I have been very enlightened by comments in this thread that suggest that there is more need for segregation by sex at the elementary and junior high level than at the high school or college level. Many thanks to the contibutors who have thus given me new ideas.

  35. Harriet Vane says:

    Hear, hear! I am a Violin teacher and I agree, it is difficult to teach children whose home environment undermines everything you are trying to accomplish. I still don’t believe in ADD though. It’s just a fancy name for “My kid has the attention span of a gnat because I sit him in front of a TV all day.”

  36. LisaP. says:

    Harriet Vane (fab name!),

    No, there is ADHD and ADD. Seriously. I can peg it across the room, and you can put four kids over there and two are misbehaving, one ADD and one not, and I can still peg the ADHD kids. It’s a true physical difference, I really believe it.

    But here’s what I also believe — it’s a *difference*, not a defect. We all have differences in our personalities and our interests and abilities. ADHD doesn’t have to be a problem, although it will probably always be something of a cross. Compare it to being a genius (not that ADHD means genius, but take my point here). A genius could be a lot of trouble at school. Or he could be amazing. It depends a ton on his school, on his character, on his choices, on what help and direction he gets, and on what his family teaches and does. It is a strong difference from the “norm”, so what if we decided every genius in schools had to be sedated to prevent them from causing trouble? That’s where I think we are with ADHD. Did you run into any kids with ADD diagnosis that were not medicated and didn’t get in trouble? I’ve met them. Massively cool people. Lots of our great Americans are in that category.

    Fibromyalgia is an interesting one, all those “imaginary” diseases — I’m seeing evidence that they may be a misfiring of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. My kid has the misfire, and if she doesn’t eat a high salt diet she is loopy, distant, foggy, and in pain all day. It’s a real physical thing. Took us two years to figure out all she needed was salt. Doctors wanted to give her tons of tests, or tons of drugs, or say she was imagining things and send her back to school, to fail.

    So, I do believe there are wonky physical things going on but the question is, how do we deal with them? Do we perpetually medicate the symptoms? Or do we work to find a root cause? Do we either indulge people or ignore and roll our eyes at them when they have a physical issue like this? Or do we tell them we believe they feel bad — and they need to try to be good anyway, and we’ll help them with that.

    I agree, former teacher, with all said here about classroom techniques and environments. Very bad for kids. Bad for girls, too, it just doesn’t show the same way.

  37. Cecily says:

    Harriet Vane–I agree that ADD and ADHD are overemphasized by some people. Two of my cousins are pediatricians, and they complain about parents who want them to certify ADD or ADHD for kids who obviously don’t have it. But other kids do have it. It is real. My mother also can spot it across the room (she’s a retired special ed. teacher).

    I also agree that excessive TV watching is a huge problem!! I think internet surfing is worse for fostering short attention spans…have you read about that? Catholic author Michael D. O’Brien recommends we read about the topic in books like “The Shallows.” That book talks about surfing the internet and how it retrains and rewires us to think in a superficial manner. A very interesting read.

    By the way, my regards to Lord Peter.

  38. JKnott says:

    Several years ago PBS did a series that took three or four families and placed them in an authentic Colonial environment for a couple of months preparing to survive the winter in the wilderness. The women hated it; no makeup, no dishwashers or washing machines etc..
    The men face hard work and significant challenges; cutting down trees, providing for food, building housing, gardens and other basics. They would be judged in the end on whether they would have survived the winter.
    The end result was fascinating. While the women couldn’t wait to get home, all the men loved it! I guess it was a masculine sense of accomplishment and providing for family.

    How about this for an extracurricular activity in high school to replace the sex education, TV and video games?

  39. mike cliffson says:

    Im sorry (only for here and now!) that Fr is such a prolific Blogger and this thread is now buried!We have eleven, mostly girls, and Im in education.I get the feeling I could have such a good natter with so many of you!
    BTW Fibromialgia has a blood tag. There’s something physical in there.Its flare-ups are stress and emotion-related. I suspect that a more christian society would have less of it, less often, with no intention to make fibromialgics feel guilty.
    And second Cecily – Man has the God-given wit to resolve the rest if Our Lord is at the centre of the picture.

  40. Cecily says:

    MikeCliffson: “And second Cecily – Man has the God-given wit to resolve the rest if Our Lord is at the centre of the picture.”

    I’m not sure what you mean by that…but I have a feeling you missed that I said the #1 problem in education is that Christ has been expelled, and that I have observed that the mentally ill who hold tight to Jesus are doing fine.

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