“In Praise of Skinned Knees and Grubby Faces”

One of the authors of The Dangerous Book for Boys, Conn Iggulden, has written an article which was posted on the washingtonpost.com.  In this article, Iggulden provides some background on why he and his brother Hal chose to write the book, as well a defense of the book’s title and content.  To read the entire article click here.  Below are the concluding paragraphs.

I thought I was the only one sick of non-competitive sports days and playgrounds where it’s practically impossible to hurt yourself. It turned out that the pendulum is swinging back at last. Boys are different from girls. Teaching them as though they are girls who don’t wash as much leads to their failure in school, causing trouble all the way. Boys don’t like group work. They do better on exams than they do in coursework, and they don’t like class discussion. In history lessons, they prefer stories of Rome and of courage to projects on the suffragettes.

It’s all a matter of balance. When I was a teacher, I asked my head of department why every textbook seemed to have a girl achieving her dream of being a carpenter while the boys were morons. She replied that boys had had it their own way for too long, and now it was the girls’ turn. Ouch.

The problem with fighting adult gender battles in the classroom is that the children always lose.

I expected a backlash. If you put the word “boys” on something, someone will always complain. One blog even promoted the idea of removing the words “For Boys” from the cover with an Exacto knife so that people’s sons wouldn’t be introduced to any unpleasantly masculine notions such as duty, honor, courage and competence.

The dark side of masculinity may involve gangs and aggression, but there’s another side — self-discipline, wry humor and quiet determination. I really thought I was the only one who cared about it, but I’ve found many thousands who care just as much.

I know there are women who can lift heavier weights than I can, but on the whole, boys are more interested in the use of urine as secret ink than girls are. We wanted to write a book that celebrated boys — with all their differences and geeky love of knowledge, skills and stories. There just isn’t anything wrong with trying to do that.

We all care about our sons — scabby knees, competitive spirits and all. It’s about time we let our schools and governments know how much we care. Let the pendulum swing.

3 comments

  1. When I was a teacher, I asked my head of department why every textbook seemed to have a girl achieving her dream of being a carpenter while the boys were morons. She replied that boys had had it their own way for too long, and now it was the girls’ turn.

    A typical group-think, post-modern, politically-oriented response. Instead of a holistic approach to education seeking truth, the education establishment is trying to balance all the errors and perceived errors on the young boys in a classroom.

    My response is not “ouch.” My response is “Good grief. You have got to be kidding!”

    Sadly, they are not kidding.

    Good for Iggulden. I’ve got the book and look forward to sharing more of it with my son.

    Now. I’ve got to get back to practicing my knot-tying.

    JR

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