Overheard Parents: The “Boys are Inferior” Trend

Coffee mug in hand, I already know where I want to sit today.  Killing the half hour before volunteering at school is going to be easy this morning!  As the barista was working on my latte, my ears already pricked up at a delectable morsel of goodness.  No scone for me today...I have something better to chew on.

Redshirting...my pet peeve and the topic of the day!  I have to start off by saying I’m totally biased when it comes to redshirting.  It was unheard of to hold kids back when I was a kid.  It was only done in extreme circumstances when the child had a learning difficulty or social challenges that got in the way...Maybe then an extra year at home or in preschool would help.  I have no issues with that!

But these days, so many parents are holding their kids back for a competitive edge – so they can get one extra year of ABC’s or math drills and hit Kindergarten with straight 4’s or check pluses or whatever other way schools use to evaluate Kindies...as if universities will care.

And worse of all, I find this redshirting trend sexist.  It’s particularly aimed at boys.  Schools want boys held back because they fidget in their seats.  Parents want them held back because they have the only the strongest, tallest, biggest kids survive mentality and no one wants their boy to be the little one.

What’s even more horrifying is the conversation.  One of the mothers is outraged (I would be too!) that a highly-progressive private school in our neighborhood had a Kindergarten applicant orientation and the Head of Admissions got up and said that boys should not be allowed in school until they’re eight!  Her son is turning five – what used to be the right age for Kindergarten.

Ok, so this is totally hearsay...I didn’t hear the comment right from the source.  But the thought that this Head of Admissions could make that statement is an outrage!  The school is my Alma Mater.  It’s totally progressive to the point that a staunch conservative would not touch it with a 40-foot pole.  It explores a variety of methods for teaching.  There’s a lot of play involved.  Children call their teachers by their first names.  They sit on the floor or lounge on couches, whatever the grade level.  It was founded by hippies!!  It’s all about self-expression!!!

And now, it had given into the “Boys are Inferior” redshirting trend!  If it were any other group that was being targeted, there would be academic committees, non-profits, and plenty of other organizations working together to try to fix the system and make education inclusive to all.  But not in this case, and parents have bought in!

My eldest son just made it through.  He’s the youngest in his class – often with boys 18 months to 2 years older than him.  But I’m happy with the situation.  I’d rather have him surrounded by kids who are older and more mature so that he can aspire.  I don’t give him the excuse that he’s younger than the others.  He doesn’t need a crutch.  He needs to know to try at the best of his ability regardless.  That may mean that he loses at basketball but he might win the Science Fair or the Literacy Contest or the Art Show. 

If he were the oldest in the class, I would feel like holding him back wasn’t a one-time decision but something that happens every day when he sits in class with a bunch of children younger than him...Every time that someone cracks a joke that’s not so funny at his age, or references a cartoon that he’s outgrown, or still talks about cooties when he’s ready to date.     

In the end, I feel that he’s lucky.  At school, he may be the youngest (even though he’s hardly aware of it) and at home, he’s the big brother.  It’s the best of both worlds.

To be honest, I have no idea where this trend came from, and I really do wish it would go away.  There shouldn’t be different academic standards for children based on age, race, gender, or religion.  It’s the educational system’s job to make it work for all.

What are your thoughts about redshirting and what decision did you make?

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Tags : confessions   overheard parents   school   competitive parents   gender   boys   

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