Boys Cannot Sit Still For Class – Questioning the Pearls

Boys Cannot Sit Still For Class – Questioning the Pearls December 3, 2017

QuestioningthePearlsAnother completely wrong-headed and infuriating piece on how to best homeschool boys. Michael Pearl’s answer to the simple question  from their (likely fake) mailbag boils down to let them scream, run around and behave wildly. He even tries to claim that little girls are sedate, quiet and completely compliant.

Guess that’s because little girls in his culture learn at a very young age that they are silenced and will get the hose/plumbing line swatted hard on some part of ther body. Michael’s generalities on the differences between the sexes sounds like something out of an etiquette book from 1797, not 1997.

Somehow I doubt he’s changed his old fashioned ideas on gender roles in the twenty years since he wrote this.

Screengrab from No Greater Joy:

Michael1So Michael has never heard of female athletes in competitive sports, like Venus and Serena Williams or the WNBA or countless other sports stars that just happen to be women?

There are females practicing in each of those fields he mentioned too. Educate yourself Michael and at least go see the film ‘Hidden Figures’. WOMEN did the math that got the U.S. space program to the Moon.

So how does Mr. Pearl advocate making little boys buckle down and cooperate in school? He mentions that wild animals playfully attack their adults and that boys cannot sit in a classroom because it’s like a cage.

Michael2Fifteen minutes of instruction time with play and rough housing in between. Public schools are much more than eight hours sitting at a desk. There’s a couple of recesses, a lunch hour, P.E. (there’s your physical activity), art, music, and many different subjects and activities. Most public schools and teachers know that they have to keep the education varied to hold the attention of boys and girls.

His ideas on how to teach boys isn’t necessarily so bad, but his assumptions about girls and what happens in public school is insulting and boorish.

moreRead more bad ideas in parenting and marriage from the Pearls

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  • Iain Lovejoy

    I’m puzzled. Aren’t these the same child training ****s who claim the “beat em till they collapse” method infallibly produces completely compliant children? Or am I muddling them up with some other pair if fundamentalist loons?

  • Jennny

    Here’s a hint for you Mikey. Go into actual schools and see how they function. Most of us there will be highly trained as teachers of young children, we’ve done degrees, taken exams in child development and child psychology to a high level. We understand the need for physical movement that most children have and our curricula reflect that. But of course I guess you’d never accept that some female-children choose to play with engineering-type Lego, to train for the soccer team or like to dress up as (male) superheroes. And some male-kids will enjoy sitting colouring, exploring music and even, shock horror, be interested in ballet classes. And a lot of sitting involves learning to use, and learning from, technology, ipads etc. I notice that in the Playhouse corner nowadays, boys sometimes role-play what they see their dads doing, cooking, vaccuuming and changing the dolls’ nappies! On 2nd thoughts, perhaps you’d better not go and observe all that really happening in the real world, you’d have a heart attack.

  • Almost a chimp

    Do they really do their schoolwork on tablets? I’m assuming, as the original is 20 years old, that he didn’t mean computer tablets.
    Slate tiles and chalk; it’s the future I tells ya.

  • Tawreos

    If the kid can only sit still and listen for 15 minutes at a time, that is a kid with pretty crappy parents, and will probably make a pretty crappy adult someday. I am a bit surprised that disciplining the child isn’t mentioned and that praying for the child to settle down wouldn’t be enough to solve the problem.

  • Michael Neville

    If wet clay and sticks were good enough for the Sumerians they should be good enough for today’s youth.

  • Michael Neville

    They’re the “beat them into submission with flex hose” sadistic bullies they’ve always been.

  • Bravo Sierra

    You might be surprised at the number of high school freshmen who can barely sit still for 15 minutes. It can be an indicator of some kind of trauma going on in their lives, or that they are hungry or tired or uncomfortable or perpetually embarrassed. Make a judgment about the Pearls if you want, but don’t generalize it to all kids who can’t sit still, calling them and their parents “crappy.”

  • AFo

    As a teacher in an all girls’ school, I can definitively say that Mikey is, unsurprisingly, full of shit. Trust me, girls can be just as rowdy as boys if they want to be. All kids are the same; they push boundaries and test to see what they can get away with. Clear rules and expectations and consistently applying the consequences for breaking the rules can nip this in the bud. Of course, knowing Mikey’s preferred “consequences,” the kids might be better off using his way…

  • SAO

    There are plenty of boys under age 8 who struggle with sitting still for 15 minutes. They are normal. Calling their parent “crappy” is destructive. Frankly, it the kind of thing that makes the boys get beaten (in right-wing circles) or drugged (in left-wing circles).

    A high school aged kid who can’t sit still long enough to learn has a problem (he may need medication) that should have been solved by better parenting. He should also have learned to channel his energy. There are occupations that can use lots of energy, making for successful adults.

    Michael Phelps mother put her high energy kid in swimming to burn off the energy. His coach noticed after hard workouts, he was still horsing around, when he should have been too tired. The coach drove him harder. At age 10, Phelps had his first world record and he won a TON of Olympic gold medals.

  • SAO

    Pearl, as usual, provides useless advice because it is so nonspecific. Is your kindergarten-aged kid unable to sit still? Maybe delay him a year, he’ll probably grow out of it. Is your 10 year old not learning because he can’t sit still? That’s a different story.

    My experience with a very high energy tot is that they can sit relatively still to do something that engages them. If you have a smart kid and a boring curriculum, you’ll have more problems. Equally, if the kid is struggling with a homeschool curriculum and needs more help, you’ll have more problems.

  • Mel

    I have this theory that every classroom – regardless of the students who are in the room – will develop its own leaders, comforters, clowns, rebels, etc. Most of this theory is based on thinking about how my behavior shifted based on the slots available in a classroom when I was a student. In high school, I was usually a leader/tutor – but in my college education classes I shifted rapidly into rebel mode – often out of boredom…….

  • SAO

    Also, my son, who strughled with sitting still was tested and turned out to have an under-receptive proprioceptic system. The proprioceptic system tells your brain where your body is in space. If it is overreactive, the brain is bombarded with signals from body parts waving ‘I’m here!’. Those kids tend to be coach potatoes, as not moving reduces the signal overload. Kids with underreactive systems tend to fidget. The brain sends a ‘where are you?’ signal to the body and moving causes a new signal to be sent, because the normal signals aren’t being sent. All of this happens without you being aware of it. The kids with under or over reactive systems don’t consciously decide to move or stay still. They just do.

    Note, having an under or over active proprioceptive system is not a function of good or bad parenting.

    Occupational therapy can help. One sign of a underreactive proprioceptic system is never getting dizzy. Before occupational therapy, my son could spin really fast in a chair and not be dizzy. You get dizzy because when you spin fast, the brain gets too many signals of where you are in space to process them and after you stop, it’s still sorting them out, so your brain can’t make the balance adjustments properly. If your system is undereactive, the brain has a lot less to deal with.

    Along with occupational therapy, you can do things like have special cushions for kids to sit on that allow them to wiggle quietly and almost imperceptively.

  • Mel

    No, you’ve got the right pair. I’m sure Mike blames the parents for 1) not beating the kids enough, 2) allowing women to teach boys in the first place, 3) mom for not beating the kid enough, 4) not beating the kid enough while writing the letter, 5) not getting enough exercise for the kid before 6) beating the kid for not obeying commands.

    I’ve got a 9 month old son. I can’t imagine hitting him with my hand let alone swinging plumbers’ line at him. He gets some basic cause-and-effect like “If I drop a toy off my high chair, a noise happens” – but only with really visible, repetitive things. Hitting him at this age would only teach him that his parents are scary and cause pain randomly – and I don’t ever want him to learn that.

  • Tawreos

    I have no doubt that there are kids that have some disorder that makes them move a lot, I have always been a bit fidgety myself, but he makes this sound like it is not so much a disorder as just a part of being male.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    I skipped the paragraph ordering you to stay away from any medical or psych testing because Ritalin is a governmental plot

  • Iain Lovejoy

    I think the problem is less fidgeting (so they fidget, so what?) than running around screaming.

  • bekabot

    Open Mike session:

    “It’s been downhill ever since we lost that knack for cuneiform. Dropping pictographs for alphabets was one of the worst things a culture ever did, and I betcha it’s all the fault of lazy lady teachers. ‘Magine the nerve of those women, forcing all of those innocent young stone-age scamps to trade in their male-gaze genius for a buncha dull droning gossipy sounds, the way girls would do. Why didn’t they force the poor kids to cross their legs while they were at it? Makes me see red, I’m telling ya, especially when I remind myself that they prob’ly did it that way just because it was easier, because that’s how women are. Women love to lead men on to ruin. When I think of how it musta been I can hardly stand it…here’s all these sweet scalawags in fur loincloths hunting mammoths and smilodons and creating all this magnificent cave art in their off-hours and the next thing you know, there they all are sitting down with their legs crossed like so many tailless puppies listening to Wilma Flintstone boss them about the difference between ‘B’ and ‘D’. There they are all Hooked on Phonics and headed for the Portals of Hell, just ‘cuz some torpid old bag decided to save herself some work and make some extra time for herself so she could have more of a chance to talk to her friends. Hmp…so instead of teaching boys to gawk at pictures the way boys are s’posed to do, she forced ’em all to learn to read, like Oprah with her book club. Whole thing makes me wanna fairly spit, it does. And then people today have the gall to wonder why it is that boys hate school and the God Damn sand to wonder why it is that Western Civilization is riding on to Ruin. Well, I could tell ’em, if they’d only ask me…it’s those women, that’s what it is; it’s those women and their crappy alphabet. Without them everything woulda been different and we’d all be imbibing wisdom from Godly pictures of elks.

    {punch line}

    It’s too bad we have to turn boys over to women to raise, isn’t it? But then there’s no help for it, of course, ‘cuz it only stands to reason that men have real work to do.”

  • Almost a chimp

    I’m scratching my head at the advice to keep the boys ‘alert, interested and exhausted‘.
    Exhaustion and alertness are polar opposites, and interest certainly wanes as exhaustion takes hold.
    Not exactly Pearls of wisdom, are they?

  • Saraquill

    I was a “spin without end” type of kid and adolescent. Different diagnoses though. It’s my vestibular system that’s weak. I can twirl without getting dizzy, yet fall at the drop of a hat.

  • BridgetD

    From experience, girls can be just as rowdy as boys and need movement just as much. As usual, Pearl has no idea what he’s talking about.

    Also, public school teachers know how to teach active children thank you very much. I was taught to keep instruction brief and to the point, have lots of opportunity for exploration and interaction, how to properly use fidgets for children that need them, and of course how important recess and PE are.

  • BridgetD

    That…pisses me off to no end. I have known several people with ADHD who have relayed their stories about taking medication for the first time. It was like my extremely nearsighted brother putting on glasses for the first time. They were finally able to concentrate on their work and get things done. For most, it was a relief.

  • swbarnes2

    The thing I always wander about this…until recently, girls weren’t very educated. Education was built around boys. But when we look at educational set-ups, don’t they basically look like what we have now? Kids sitting in desks, listening to a teacher? I don’t think one-room schoolhouses featured boys running laps throughout the lesson.

    Really, the lesson from this, if you believed it, is “if you have limited resources, teach the girls. The boys require 10x as much work for the same educational gains.”

  • smrnda

    This is something I realized pretty young. Adults flip out over behaviors in children that they find totally acceptable in adults. Kids are expected to display more discipline than adults.

    I mean, college students get way more breaks than high school or elementary school kids. I get that schools can’t just let young kids roam free and trust they’ll be back in 90 minutes for their next class, but we should at least admit we’re expecting more of kids than grown ups at times. I’ve never been in a lecture for adults where the instructor has to stop class to correct the posture of students, but this isn’t uncommon with kids.

  • Mimc

    It really depends on the age of the kid. A 15 minute attention span it developmentally appropriate for a preschooler but ridiculously short for a 4 grader. Micheal’s focus on the students gender instead of their developmental stage makes his advice even more useless than it might otherwise be.

  • Cynthia

    Well, the excerpt is a bit less WTF than most of the Pearl’s stuff – although that might make it more dangerous since it sounds more normal.

    On average, boys are more physically rambunctious, although any good educator adjusts to the actual children and doesn’t treat average like an iron-clad law.

    My son unfortunately had a couple of teachers who did have unrealistic expectations for children’s attention spans. In his kindergarten class, these inexperienced teachers seemed to spend more time yelling at the boys than they did teaching, and he actually regressed that year. Teachers need to actively engage students. I would also add that attention can be a problem for the quieter students too – it is just that the zoned out student doesn’t attract the same attention from the teacher as a rowdy student. Now that he is in 8th grade, he has a bunch of teachers – most are great, but one from the “drone on and on and then yell at the kids who are bored” school of thought. She was busy telling us how concerned she was about him, how his work habits are declining and how she thinks he needs more sleep – but meanwhile, his test marks are As, and the rest of his teachers only had positive things to say. My son concerned that he is engaged in the other classes, but that he can’t stand hers.

  • texassa

    Don’t you know, girls are not human children, they are ladies-in-training.

  • texassa

    We are already entering that phase. Girls and women are excelling in educational settings while boys and men trail behind. Women are earning more degrees, capturing better jobs and higher pay, and working full-time while balancing their health and fitness, maintaining lovely homes, handling their personal finance, and even grooming themselves with more success than men. More and more, it’s women who are running the world – at home and in the workplace. Meanwhile dopes like the Pearls are whining and lamenting that these accomplished, desirable women are no longer desperate to marry or stay tethered to an abusive or worthless spouse. Better get your act together, men!

  • MuttsRule

    Works with Australian Cattle Dog puppies, though.

  • Fallulah

    I agree wholeheartedly. Sparking and holding their interest goes a long way. I used to work at a daycare and in the afternoons I would watch over the 1.5-2 year old class (about 10 kids by myself) and in the morning the teacher would do structured reading and activities with them and for 3 hours in the afternoon I would supervise free play. One afternoon the kids seemed bored and not particularly interested in free play so I asked if they wanted to do magnet stories. They did! So they sat down around the board and I told them goldielocks and the three bears, I didn’t really remember the story all too clearly and kind of elaborated and they loved it! “Again!” they all shouted. I told the same one again, cuz it was during free play and I wasn’t their teacher so there are no rules! They were so into it, even the so called “trouble kids” (little boys who no matter what would not sit still and would wander away and constantly be disciplined) sat quietly listening, enthralled by the story. Well. Another teacher happened to walk by the class and looked in and was shocked by how quiet and wellbehaved they all were, asked me if I had drugged them, but she still had to give her two cents, “You really shouldn’t make them sit and listen to stories when it is supposed to be free play” I asked if it looked like I was forcing anyone to do anything. Of course I got in shit from the supervisor later for “making them” listen to stories. A lot of the teachers there were jealous that the kids liked and listened to me. Mostly it boiled down to speaking and treating them like little people instead of little minions like the other powerhungry teachers. A lot of people get into the daycare and teaching industry for the wrong reasons (powertripping, bullying, taking advantage of the weaker). I was forced out after being there just 6 months…a good teacher who actually cared about the kids, can’t have that!

  • smrnda

    I sometimes wonder if this is an example where men are suffering because of long running male privilege? If women were prevented from competing with men, and men were simply given jobs, authority, etc by virtue of being male, then you don’t have to earn your place in the world. Women have always had to compete and prove themselves, so we’ve got a lot of drive, and have never been able to simply dump the housework and such on someone else. Some men adapt – some don’t.

  • SAO

    In 2nd grade, my daughter had an ineffective teacher who refused to let her read at her level until she’d “proved” her reading skills by reading books at the 2nd grade level. Daughter read at home, but showed no interest in her boring assigned reading books, so was very slow getting through them. Therefore, the teacher had “proved” that she couldn’t read beyond the 2nd grade level.

    Then the teacher didn’t get through her curriculum, so she piled on the homework. It was more than my daughter could do, so I gave up and chose what she’d do each night. The teacher told me HW developed good habits of study. In the end, what too much HW taught her was that if you just don’t do all your homework, nothing will happen. Had the teacher given a doable amount, then DD might have not learned that lesson. I talked to other parents who did the same thing I did. Just quietly opted out of some or all of the HW.

  • texassa

    Ha, I wouldn’t feel too bad for them.

  • swbarnes2

    I can see an argument like “We teach with the teacher at the blackboard, students listening in seats, because it’s easiest for teachers, and we’ve socialized girls to conform to that more than boys”. But people have been teaching to boys for centuries. The idea that this is a plot recently cooked up by feminists doesn’t make a lot of sense.

  • NikkiofAmystika

    The first half of your comment sounds like a teacher I had in 1st grade. She got mad at me because during assignments, I had already read the assigned passage and written the answers down and would choose to read another story further in the book instead of just staring at the board. And all I was doing was silently reading further along in the book. My mom harped on her about that during parent-teacher conferences, and at the end of the year the teacher apologized to me and gave me a paperback copy of Tacky the Penguin, a picture book about a penguin who doesn’t fit in with the rest of his flock.
    In contrast, once my kindergarten teacher realized I could read, she started letting me read aloud to my classmates during story time.