Accelerating your Learning Curve
Success Learning Systems
August, 2007 Newsletter
Currently, I am reading a new book by Leonard Sax called Boys Adrift,
'the five factors driving the growing epidemic of unmotivated boys and
underachieving young men.' Dr. Sax is an M.D. and PH.D. and has also
written a book titled, Why Gender Matters.
This month's ezine will be a must read and should be passed forward
to anyone you know who has young boys under age fifteen. If you
absorb and heed Dr. Sax's advice and the distinctions he has made, you
will be well ahead in countering the pitfalls facing young boys in our
nation today. Since there is only limited space and time to put this
ezine together, I would encourage anyone reading this to pick up Dr.
Sax's books as a critically important resource.
The following are some of his key observations and how our society
is shortchanging boys on several key fronts. I will list each point with
a brief explanation.
Video Games-Some of the key points Dr. Sax discusses here has to do
with how they contribute over time to lack of motivation, lack of reality
in dealing with life (ie- sadly, video games become their real life)
lack of physical fitness and additional challenges these games present.
When you factor in the violent point and shoot video games being used
by young impressionable minds, you are creating a very "toxic brew"
among our males.
One of the points Dr. Sax makes that really impressed me was how
there are early observations on an interesting phenomena. Many of the
males who have spent time on these games end up living at home after
their teen years are well over with. I know we all dearly love our children
but, in their best interests, we not only want them to have roots but also
the wings to go off on their own and start their lives in a healthy manner.
Allowing all kinds of time on these games appears to have a crippling
long term effect on the potential future independence your son may
experience. Lack of good communication skills (due to sacrificed real
life dealings with others) will certainly not allow your teen to be ready
for the global, high speed changes we must all face competitively.
Teaching methods-Twenty years ago and before, kindergarten was
kindergarten and a lot of play, hands on and movement was the name
of the game. Today, kindergarten kids are expected to do what first
graders did back a few decades ago. What is wrong with this? According
to Dr. Sax, boys especially, do not have the development to handle some
of the reading and writing expected in today's kindergarten. He thinks
schools have to change and not expect the five year old boys to change.
Dr. Sax also believes that starting boys in kindergarten at age six would
benefit them by having another year to mature and handle school better.
Too many boys are hating school because they are expected to come
in, sit still and do the classwork. That is not the nature of the beast for
a five year old boy!
Prescription Drugs-To directly quote Dr. Sax, "Overuse of medication
for ADHD may be causing irreversible damage to the motivational
centers in boys' brains." Everything I coach with my program,
Success Learning Systems, revolves around the principle of long
term thinking and how any action (or inaction) may effect us over
time. We have had twenty to twenty five years of Ritalin and some
of the other drugs used to "improve attention" and are now seeing
unexpected consequences from their use.
Endocrine Disruptors- Dr. Sax says the following on the back jacket
of his book, "Environmental estrogens from plastic bottles and food
sources may be lowering boys' testosterone levels, making their bones
more brittle and throwing their endocrine systems out of whack."
Devaluation of Masculinity- "Shifts in popular culture have transformed
the role models of manhood. Forty years ago we had 'Father Knows
Best'; today we have 'The Simpsons'." As someone who has observed
this first hand, Dr. Sax is exactly right! The role model of an adult male
and what he should be has truly taken a number of hits over the last
The combination of these five factors, he believes, has had a negative
effect on the brains of boys, especially as they are growing and
developing. Fortunately, Dr. Sax also lists solutions for these issues
and they will be further summarized in the upcoming September
Success Learning System's newsletter. In the meantime, if you have
further immediate concerns regarding your sons or boys you may
know, I do encourage you to invest in his book. There is a great
saying that really fits here and it goes like this, "denial of the facts
does not mean they go away."
If Dr. Sax's information and observations are ultimately proven, the
sooner we all will be better off by addressing these challenges. I,
personally, take his views very seriously and, since I work with a variety
of teens and younger males as well, this may prove to be a priceless
resource! Over the years teaching, coaching and running Success
Learning Systems, I have made some of the same observations. Dr.
Sax has further helped me connect the dots and I look forward to
assisting many more parents, schools and kids overcome this issue.