The First Time and the Last Time
Warren Farrell, author of the Myth of Male Power (more on this work in a future post), stated that, "This is the first time in U.S. history that our sons are having less education than their fathers."
There's a first time for everything. First time we went to school. First time we went out on a date. First time we drove ourselves to the store or a party. First time we kissed. Usually, the first time is a prophetic statement that there is more to come. The idea that there will be many more experiences of going to school, going out on a date, driving ourselves places or kisses is not so foreboding.
However, when we are speaking about sons being less educated than their fathers, then it is quite foreboding.
Some recent statistics suggest that academics are now more of a woman thing. Nationally, boys account for 70% of all the D's and F's given in school. Other data indicates that 2/3 of students in special education remedial programs are guys. Last stat, at least for now: only 20% of boys are proficient in writing and 24% proficient in reading by 8th grade!
I recall sitting in my undergraduate poetry class as our professor questioned us on Beowulf. We all sat silently. Then she forced my classmate, right next to me, to answer her and she gave the correct answer. What came next was unexpected. Our professor began haranguing us about how it's so ridiculous that students think "it's cool to be stupid!'
It was true. I spent the better part of my elementary and middle school education pretending to be dumb. I was obsessed with being the class clown and making the cute girl in the corner laugh. Yet, when push came to shove, I did the work, learned the material and killed the exam. But our younger counterparts do not seem to be following suit or are not able to recover.
The deeper issue is that many of these statistics are the history of boys who are now men, husbands, and fathers. I have met countless young men and older men who have no burden to read. Whenever a young man asks me about mentoring or coaching, my first recommendation is to commit to reading at least 1 new book every month. Many of them cannot even follow through on this.
Anyone reading this falls on 1 of 2 sides of this issue. Either he is a man that has neglected his mental development and needs to be challenged or he has endeavored to be more educated than his father and needs to spread this mindset to the young men around him. If we are going to man up, it cannot be just us by ourselves. We must think of the boys that one day will follow us and hopefully follow on to be better men.
So my challenge is very simple. This may be the first time in U.S. history that our sons have less education than their fathers, but it will darn sure be the last time. Let us not wait until the scarcity of an educated gentlemen with a moral backbone becomes an endangered species. Let us not wait until the only worthy role models for our sons and perhaps the sons of others be simply ourselves. Let this first time shock us into action. Let this first time spur us on to exceptional mental development. May we remember this time at the dusk of our lives not as the first time our sons were less educated than their fathers, but the last time.