Sunday, September 30, 2007

A Dangerous Book for Boys - What Happened?

I applaud a book such as “A Dangerous Book for Boys.” Why is there a need for such a book? I grew up in a time that such a book would have been laughed at and ridiculed because it was nothing more than common knowledge. I had learned about choosing sides for games and that not everyone got picked; the angst of waiting to be picked, and the shame if you were not picked but traded for two others, just to make the teams even in numbers (two traded equaled one player). Everyone got to play, but not every player was equal. Beginning in fourth grade I would take various hunting shotguns and rifles to school for show-and-tell. We had a fifth grade teacher who would show us his hunting bows; a ninth grade teacher who helped me to restore a Civil War percussion cap rifle in the classroom before school started each morning and the weapon was kept in a closet in the classroom until the next morning. It took almost three months to restore the 50-caliber rifle. From second grade through ninth, Mr. Bender was never called Mr. Bender (at this time you did not have a separate teacher for each class even in a town of a population of 15,000 – four grade schools, one junior high school (grades 7-9) and a senior high (grades 10-12)). He was always called Coach. He taught us, girls and boys, about how to play red rover, ball tag, dodge ball, statue, basketball, football and many other games. These games were easily adapted to the neighborhood outdoor skating rink. He also taught the Vince Lombardi concept of “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.” He never played favorites, even with the jocks. I remember a rope-climbing contest (I never made it up the damn rope) in ninth grade gym class. There were two finalists for the competition. Al (the quarterback for the ninth grade football team and was later drafted for a short stint in the Canadian league) and Denny (a kid who came from a totally different background and was sort of considered the Fonz of the day: no interest in sports; complete with black leather jacket). Denny won the contest by over three seconds. Coach Bender’s response was “Denny won, Al. He had the will and the ability.”

Though these examples may wax nostalgic about my experiences, there is still the question: What has happened to make such a difference in concept in our current culture? I think that a definitive answer can be found in The Changing Gender Composition of Psychology: In 1970, women made up just over 20 percent of PhD recipients in psychology, according to the National Research Council. In 2005, the last year for which data are available, nearly 72 percent of new PhD and PsyDs entering psychology were women, according to APA's Center for Psychology Workforce Analysis and Research. And when you look even further down the line, graduate enrollment in psychology, including those pursuing master's-level degrees, reached nearly three-quarters female in 2005.” And, "Just by their sheer numbers, women are changing the field of psychology," says Carol Williams-Nickelson, PsyD, associate executive director of the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students.”

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