Kids in our Hood

I think a lot about how kids interact with the world. They've certainly got a lot to deal with -- not only with regard to (re)fashioning their identities along society's pretty intense and panoptically-imposed rules about gender and sexuality, but they have to do all of this while integrating in schools. I think that kids, in some way, understand that these educational institutions are where they will be, in more ways than one, stratified and sorted into adulthood.

I've been reading some research lately about single sex schools, and it's really very interesting. I'm not at all opposed to single sex schools; I think that they may in some ways be a very, very productive space for certain students. I'm also starting to think, with regard to boys and boys' education, that they may be a curious kind of answer to some of the most dismantling aspects of hegemonic masculinity plaguing Western society. Here's why:

When boys are educated with girls in the same school I think that gender issues become much more difficult to identify and address. While teachers can do a great deal to manage gender disparities in the classroom, to identify bad hegemonically masculine behaviors and rectify issues, I think that hegemonically masculine behaviors often manifest de facto -- the teacher can't hear every conversation and manage every interaction students have. In (certain) single sex schools, I think that the fact that they are all boys allows teachers to teach and discipline as if they are all masculine individuals, naturally subject to the rugged and turbulent rules of a potentially violent masculinity. Teachers might be more strict with boys in certain ways; they might run them til' they're tired outside, they might integrate stories about sports and athletics into curriculum. In doing so, they play to the rules of hegemonically masculine behaviors, and because of that might actually achieve great success in schooling. When kids are raised at a young age to idealize hegemonic masculine ideals, they respond to schooling methods aimed at boys with those identities.

So a) I can't really prove any of this, but maybe it would be a fun research project some day. But b) I notice, from talking with parents with young kids, that boys by the age of 4 are much quieter than girls. Parents are confused as to why their sons inexplicably become anxious or unsociable, and try to explain the curious difference through biological naturals. I think it could be something more than that. I think it's a sign of boys struggling to refashion themselves into boys, into boys that become men.

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