Sunday, September 30, 2007

A Dangerous Book For Boys

I recently purchased a book entitled, "A Dangerous Book For Boys". Far from being actually dangerous, the book is kind of like the cooler parts of the Boy Scout Handbook and the How To sections of the World Book Magazine I remember reading as a child. It has sections on everything from U.S. Navy flag signals, how to perform a card trick, to how to catch and skin a rabbit.

Billing itself as the perfect book for any boy aged eight through 80, it ended up being just the sort of book I want my son to read when he gets older. I would recommend it to the parents of any boys around that age. In today's world, it seems like more and more we are preventing boys from being boys. A brilliant essay about this phenomenon can be found here:

I remember growing up and playing Cowboys and Indians (feather, not dot), Cops and Robbers, Tag, Dodgeball, and Army Men. I remember learning to shoot at Boy Scout Camp, the time my Dad built a slingshot for me, and then a day or so later teaching me about the consequences of not using a weapon properly (I shot the slingshot at my sister--missed, but not by much) by tanning my backside and breaking the slingshot across his knee in front of me. I remember building forts in the woods and using the apples that fell from the tree that grew next to the house I grew up in to defend it--at the end of very atlatl like sticks.

I also wonder about the drawings we made in school: normally they were panoramas of destruction: usually showing the allied forces of WWII wreaking great destruction on an army of stick men carrying swastika flags. These were graphic drawings, involving explosions, fireballs, and little stick bodies flying through the air. Never were we sent to see counselors about it, never were we sent to the principle's office. The only time a teacher even intervened was one time when a kid showed the Nazi bastards winning--earning him a stern talking to about good and evil, not a suspension or terrorist response team.

My generation made it through to adulthood without an incident like Columbine. The only thing that I could see that was different, aside from the fact that the inheritors of Woodstock weren't running everything yet, and our country's Greatest Generation was still enforcing some kind of moral code on government an society at large, was that corporal punishment was still an accepted form of punishment for children. Even at school. I remember being told several times that if I got paddled at the principle's office, that when I got home I would get double. It was indeed a deterrent. I was not "beaten" or abused as a child. I was, however, punished in a more or less fair manner that more often than not met the severity of my transgression--using multiple methods from grounding and time-outs to spanking.

We also had video games. Most of the hand-held ones had red LED's that moved one space per key-press and the only sound effect was a beeping noise. I remember playing Pong, and the advent of the Atari. So, we also had video games.

We had music that was considered immoral and obscene, just like today (personally, I think that has been the way of history: each generation attempts to disturb the next with their music).

So, what was the difference? In my opinion, boys were allowed to be boys, and punished appropriately when it was needed.

Anyhow, I'm starting to ramble, so I'll leave you with the advice to check out the book, read the link and let me know what you think.

1 comment:

Old Man said...

Dr. Helen at had mentioned that book this past February. It was on my gift list for my grandson. Thanks for mentioning the book.