Peter DeWitt, who is an elementary school principal in upstate New York, got very ticked off by a column written by David Brooks in the New York Times.
DeWitt has written a post in which he takes Brooks to task for his confusion and ignorance about schools today. He sees it as just another example of school-bashing by an uninformed critic, the sort that is making teachers and administrators feel shell-shocked.
Brooks blames schools for being too feminized, too collaborative, too sensitive, too eager to medicate rambunctious boys, and thereby turning boys off. Boys are falling behind girls in academic achievement, he says, because of the schools.
Boys need competition, says Brooks, as though the testing regime is not competitive enough for him. Boys need boot camp, he says, echoing one of the themes of the “no excuses” wing of the charter school movement, which Brooks admires. Boys need military virtues, he says, not more environmentalist sentimentality.
I have no idea what Brooks’ evidence is, but I suspect he is just spouting off. He recently returned from the Aspen Ideas Festival, and he seems to be recycling some opinion he picked up there.
Brooks is not a tough guy, at least not in appearance, and he appears to be the sort of kid who would have been bullied by the sort of boys he thinks we need more of.
Judging from our nation’s performance on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, I don’t think our society is in any danger of being too soft and too sensitive. We appear to have an adequate supply of warriors to fight all over the world.
What in the world is David Brooks worried about?