Boys and Guns (page 2)

By — Boys' Learning
Updated on Dec 16, 2008


Boys, lack of emotional expression and high activity
By the time a boy is born the pattern seems set. Developmental disorders such as specific reading delay,10 hyperactivity,11 autism and related disorders, clumsiness, stammering, and Tourette's syndrome12occur three to four times more often in boys than in girls, although girls, when they have such a disorder, may be more severely affected.13 Conduct and oppositional disorders are at least twice as common in boys.14 Genetic factors are known to play a part, varying from low heritability in conduct disorder to high in autism,15 but why are they all commoner in boys? None of these conditions is sex linked in the classical sense. But Skuse et al propose that the X chromosome does carry some of the burden of the social and cognitive deficits that are common to many (but not all) of these disorders.16Coeducation has exposed another difference that was less evident (even though paradoxically more pronounced26) in the past: that girls are better than boys at most academic subjects. Results of the GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) examination, taken at age 16 in England, have only relatively recently been collected on a nationwide scale, but they show a considerable gap between the sexes in scholastic achievement: 42.8% boys compared with 53.4% girls get grade C or above at GCSE,27 and in lower social classes the gap is even greater.28 Boys mature more slowly than girls and later tend to catch up with girls academically. Disruptive ("boyish") behaviour may be less tolerated in modern schools than it was in the past.29 Males, meanwhile, tend to have superior skills in mathematics and other non-verbal tasks. Even at the age of 2 boys do better than girls at building a bridge with toy bricks.30 In general, males are better at spatial and navigational skills, such as throwing, map reading,31 chess, and architecture, though these are not invariable advantages. Spatial ability, for example, is better in female than male Inuit.32 Yet males everywhere have consistently maintained a superior ability to match figures rotated at different angles.33 Girls have better literary skills and are more aware of and explicit about their feelings, while boys tend to clam up, especially when their emotions are high, and just feel uncomfortable and awkward without knowing why. The much studied defect "alexithymia"lack of an emotional vocabulary is much commoner in boys.34

Kraemer, “The fragile Male”, British Medical Journal, 2000

Messing about in boats

"There is nothing -- absolutely nothing -- half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. In or out of 'em, it doesn't matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that's the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don't; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you're always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you've done it there's always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you'd much better not."

Spoken by Ratty to Mole in Wind in the Willowsby Kenneth Grahame (1859-1932)

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