Nicholas Kristof has an interesting column on the gender gap in verbal skills. Boys may still be ahead when it comes to math skills, but girls are well ahead of their male counterparts in verbal skills. Kristof writes:
Many theories have been proposed. Some people think that boys are hard-wired so that they learn more slowly, perhaps because they evolved to fight off wolves more than to raise their hands in classrooms. But that doesn’t explain why boys have been sinking in recent decades.
I’m not persuaded that gathering helped girls evolve to raise their hands in the classroom. And I wonder if the lag has something to do with the fact that, just as girls can wear skirts and pants, they also can read both the Nancy Drew series and the Hardy Boys. As a student once told me, his reading of The Secret Garden was constantly interrupted by astonished adults, who told him that the book was really for girls. He ended up reading it under the covers, with the help of a flashlight. There are, of course, many other signals sent to boys about books and reading. Rather than “nurturing boys with explosions” and coaxing them into reading books with ghosts, boxers, wrestlers, and bombers, maybe it’s time to change those signals. Still, some great recommendations on guysread.com and happy to see that Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm made it onto the list, even if their book is listed as Grimm’s Fairy Tales.