“Drama. Drama. Drama.” That is how Louann Brizendine, M.D., starts her chapter called “The Teen Girl’s Brain” in her fascinating book The Female Brain. We all know that teenage girls go through a dramatic change with the onset of puberty. The hormonal shifts leave them – and often us, as their parents – confused and frequently upset. The friendly, open, affectionate child who loved to spend time with us may now be moody, secretive, and obsessed with her looks and her friends. She is also certain she can run her own life without any advice from her parents.
When the second wave of American feminism began in the late 1960s, most researchers in gender studies believed that all babies are born without gender-specific behaviors. Gender differences came about because parents and other adults treated girl babies differently than boy babies. A typical scientific study was one that had a researcher take a video of an adult with a baby. If the baby were dressed in pink, the adult would cuddle and coo. If the same baby were dressed in blue, the adult would play “rough house.” These studies “proved” all gender differences were learned.
From Harry Potter’s Hogwarts to Professor Xavier’s school for X-Men, boarding schools have made quite the cinematic comeback in recent years. This trend is reflected in real life as well, as residential academic facilities are adding innovative approaches to a centuries-old tradition of offering quality educational experiences for specific sets of students.
Who is responsible for ensuring that teens are safe from school bullies? Since aggressive teens can’t typically be expected to police themselves, and bystanders are often targeted for bullying when they stand up for a friend in need, many people believe it is the responsibility of teachers, counselors, and parents.
Teachers are often stunned when they watch videos of themselves leading their classes. Time after time a video is clear evidence that a teacher favors boys.
Professors David and Myra Sadker spent over a decade and thousands of hours in American classrooms watching and taking notes on sexist teaching methods. They published their results in their groundbreaking book, Failing at Fairness, and also appeared on television shows like Dateline to expose sexism in co-ed schools.
The older little girls get, the less confidence they have.
A six-year-old girl is often robust and full of confidence, eagerly speaking up in her classroom, and full of energy and health on the playground. Girls in early elementary school not only earn better grades but also obtain higher scores on national tests like the Stanford-Binet than boys do.
Once girls go through puberty and look like women, the boys at their schools sexually harass them.
In survey after survey, overwhelming majorities of American high school girls report putting up with lewd comments, boys brushing against them in a sexual way, bra-snapping, unwanted kissing and fondling, and sexually explicit comments publicly posted on the Internet and in high school corridors and bathrooms. Seventeen Magazine received over 2000 responses to its survey about sexual harassment, with 89% of respondents saying that they had been victims of unwanted touching and remarks at school.
“I can’t do it.” “I don’t want to go to school anymore.” “Nothing I do matters.” If these statements frequently echo from your tweens’ bedroom … Read more
Enthusiasm to begin the school day; attainment of B’s and A’s across the curriculum; enjoyment of (gulp!) reading a book; organization of Trapper Keepers and backpacks independent of adult admonition and frantic last-minute scrambling! Are these the wistful wishes of a parent of a struggling teenager? The bold response is “Not at all!” but let us glance backward to the onset of a process that promises (some reasonable facsimile of) the above while igniting potential and unlocking doors that have too often seemed slammed shut to the struggling adolescent.