How Male Students Are Setting Themselves Up for Disaster
The “competition” starts in early grade school and continues until they start learning to like one another. But a recent article from the Washington Post has highlighted a disturbing trend for male students that could place them squarely behind their female counterparts in the world of the 21st Century.
Contributor Rick Noack writes the following:
“An extensive new survey, released by the teaching company Education First, comes to another surprising conclusion: In most of the countries that were surveyed, women were better than men at learning English as a non-native language. In total, 70 countries were part of the analysis. The findings confirm other surveys, such as the results from the international Test of English as a Foreign Language, or TOEFL, in which women also outperformed men.”
In comments to the Post, Kate Bell, one of the report’s authors, noted that “In several cases, the differences between women and men were astonishingly big.”
One of the reasons called out in the piece was “prolonged gender inequality,” with a spokesperson for the research pointing out that in countries with high gender inequality, “women are more likely to be pushed towards careers in the humanities versus engineering, math or science.”
In countries of high gender equity, the difference between men and women’s ability to learn English was negligible.
While the research makes for a fascinating case study, it also demonstrates how male students are setting themselves up for disaster in a world where learning English is on the rise.
Here are some of the ways that this inability to boost English-speaking skills could haunt men moving forward.
As the research points out, societies of high gender inequality tend to find women better equipped at English than men. These countries would include Malaysia, Kuwait, Algeria, Iraq, and Russia. and Kazakhstan.
Women do not have as many opportunities in these cultures, so they tend to focus on degrees in the humanities. This leaves men to pick up the slack on things like mechanical engineering, and careers that focus on math and science.
Considering all the great contributions that women in more advanced countries have made throughout human history, this does society no favors.
Communication has become an increasingly important part of the economy. With so much information out there, and so many changing technologies, only people with the ability to communicate can ensure that advancements continue to be made in every employment field.
If women are so far ahead in communications but lagging elsewhere, they’re going to be the only people capable of teaching the material, but they’re not going to have the knowledge of content to do so as effectively.
To compensate, you’re likely to see more women take up math, science, and engineering careers, since they already have one of the major building blocks for learning anything — English. This will create future competition that pushes male students further out of the picture.
As that occurs, a whole slew of negative consequences could come about — joblessness, increased reliance on social welfare, and crime.
3. Familial concerns
The family unit is already much different than it used to be, with greater numbers of absentee or non-participatory fathers, placing greater strain on single moms and their children. Men, essentially, are not “living up to their end of the bargain” because there is a fear of failure where a lack of education exists.
For men who want to create strong families, education is essential. While we now live in a two-income society where both participants in a relationship are probably going to have to work, well-educated men, who are good communicators, are in a great position to meet or exceed the income levels of their spouses. Higher income means more opportunity and less stress on the family itself.
By not taking the time to master the reading and writing of English, male students will find themselves dragging down the family unit later in life and getting caught in a cycle of doom as the economy becomes increasingly global in nature.
The Good News
It’s not too late for male students to break the cycle. Learning English and becoming a better writer/communicator demands just three skills: reading, writing, and active listening.
Strong readers are able to learn by example. There has been a push in the last 10 years to increase literacy lab training to get young men and women to read anything and everything they can: bestsellers, short stories, training manuals on a topic of interest.
If male students resolve to find the things that interest them and make time for reading every single day, their skills will naturally improve with time.
While they’re at it, they have to actively listen. There is an enormous difference between looking at words on a page or hearing what someone says on a podcast and actively listening. When you actively listen, you ask questions about the material you’ve just covered. You make connections with other things you’ve read or watched or heard about — other books, things going on in the world, life experiences. You quickly summarize the things that you’ve learned from the material. You try to predict where it’s going from there.
If you learn to be a strong reader and an active listener, writing will come much easier for you. Herman Wouk once said that the key to writing well is to write one page every single day of your life. Even if it’s nothing more than a grocery list, sit down with pen and paper in hand and try to jot down a list of every single thing you can think of. Your writing does not have to be good at first, but it does have to be ongoing. Through repetition, experimentation, and fearlessness, your skills will improve immensely, and it will place you in a better position to close the gender gap.
What do you think about the results of the above survey? Do you feel the material rings true? Sound off in the comments section.
[Image via Bates.edu]