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Another Christian Man Academy Newsletter, another bout of spite. We're talking about school, which is near and dear to my heart as I went to a Christian college and got certified as a teacher. Murray has Thoughts about why boys do badly at school; I, too, have thoughts.
And rage.
Keep up with all the CMA threads here:…
Holding a Ph.D. in Russian history from Stanford University, Chris Stroop is an #Exvangelical scholar and writer whose very odd combination of academic expertise and lived experience led to an increasingly visible presence on Twitter from the time of the 2016 election cycle.
Stroop has published peer-reviewed academic research, policy analysis, and popular articles and commentary about the Christian Right, Russian conservatism, and the connections between Putinist Russia and the contemporary far Right in Europe and the United States.
Stroop's work has been published with Foreign Policy, The Moscow Times, Playboy, Dame Magazine, Religion Dispatches, Political Research Associates, and other outlets.
Stroop's blog, #NotYourMissionField, is focused mostly on issues of concern to exvies and can be found at .
If you found this week helpful, please support Stroop's work via a Patreon pledge or by sending a gift through PayPal or the cash app:


Also, have I mentioned that I write books?
Murray wants to know, "Why are boys doing so badly at schools, especially when compared with girls?"
He does a quick Google search to browse through "innumerable articles" to find some answers that agree with him. For funsies, so did I.
Overall, we found the same things - there's no doubt that boys are tending to do more poorly in school than girls, leading to fewer of them going to college.
That's where we're going to stop agreeing, because while the data is clear, data can only observe something (%'s in large number blocks) while it cannot tell you why that thing is happening.
Furthermore, many people tend to say, "Boys like X, while girls like Y" instead of saying, "Boys have been socialized to like X, while girls have been socialized to like Y."
Let's take a moment to talk about why that really matters. Because it's tempting to say, "Who cares WHY boys like X, we should just engage with them about X." And that's true!
Sometimes, it doesn't matter why someone likes something. Just cater to their interests to create buy-in and motivation to learn and develop.

But this changes when engaging with them becomes expectations all in itself.
For example, "boys like sports", so when a game is being organized at recess, it becomes problematic when a teacher only supports shy boys who want to join the game, while overlooking the shy girls who might also like to. Both need support, and your focus as a teacher matters.
We'll talk about this more as we go through the newsletter. Because Murray is going to add three suggests "from my own painful experience in public schools that I believe would revolutionize schools for many boys."

Male heroes

Murray observes that boys need men they can look up to. Basically, he wants more male teachers in the classroom, "not least because so many boys don't have active fathers in their lives."
Someday, I'd like to hear him talk about where he's getting this impression. I'm not going to say that men are super great at engaging with their kids, because I tend to believe that the patriarchy makes dudes bad at anything that matters.
However, growing up, the only time I heard that narrative was in talking about black fathers. Which, whoooo boy, have I learned a whole lotta stuff about, and the racism is strong, let me tell you.
It's America's shame that we can accuse and imprison/kill black men for minor bullshit things while ALSO blaming them for not being there for their kids.
I never heard it about white fathers, so this focus of Murray's is a little new. Let's hear from you! You've always heard about absent fathers in terms of:
Now that we've visited racism, we're gonna touch on misogyny, cause Murray kinda hates women.
"At least 90% of my school teachers were women. Few if any of them understood teenage boys. Most of them seemed to barely tolerate us and none of them had a clue about how to gain our respect or cooperation."
I dunno, dude, maybe you were just raised to treat women like shit and they didn't appreciate that?
Look, I totally think it's the teacher's job to gain the respect and cooperation of their students, particularly in the lower grades. However, I don't think that putting a dude in charge of the classroom is going to magically change things.
Especially because while the lady teachers were "clueless" about guys, at least they weren't sexually harassing and demeaning their students like many dude teachers do.
"With one exception, the male teachers I had were very poor specimens of manhood. Some of them were just weird, others had horrific tempers, while others just hated what they were doing and hated most of us as well."
I mean, at least Murray kinda looks down at everyone in general. Please fire any teacher with a "horrific temper", thanks. Though I don't totally trust his opinion, since he happily just thinks some are "just weird". *eyeroll*
I also didn't feel like many of my teachers "got me" or even liked me. But that didn't mean that I thought it was because I was a boy; I just figured I was unlikable in general.

I guess we all have baggage. Some of us just unpack it, while others externalize it.
"The one exception was my Physical Education teacher, Mr. McVake. What a man! What a hero he was to us – and not just on the soccer pitch. Wherever he met us, even outside of school, he was always interested in us, always kind, always an inspiration.
He was strict and tough when needed, but the vast majority of his interactions were positive and encouraging. I would do anything for him, and to this day I believe my character and conduct still bears his imprint."
I'm totally unsurprised that the one "good" dude teacher he had was a PE teacher. This glowing review makes me consider that he hasn't mentioned any women teachers that he had that impacted him at all.
Does that mean there were none? Does that say more about Murray than, say, the teachers he encountered?
"Male encouragement
I touched on this in the last point, but boys love to be praised and encouraged by men. Some male teachers would do better as lawyers and prison guards. Of course we need rules and regulations, and discipline, and demerits, and lines, and detention, and
privilege-denial, etc. But if that’s all boys experience, they just give in and give up. Boys need authority, but they are utterly repulsed or crushed by bullying authoritarianism and constant criticism."
You know how you can find yourself nodding along with someone until you realize that you don't trust them at all?
Yes. Obviously, all humans love to be "praised and encouraged" by their role models. We're the kind of creature that patterns ourselves after those we admire, and we learn how to be human by observing those around us.
Certainly, we need to encourage kiddos, no matter what their gender identity. All kids need healthy boundaries, and they need to be taught how to set their own boundaries, and explore the spaces around them in a safe respectful way.
The most strict, crushing teacher I ever had was a lady; the most permissive I ever had was a man. I had a lot in the middle. Looking back, I personally had an even split of men and women as teachers.
So now I'm curious:

In school, what % of your grades 1-12 teachers were male-bodied?:
"Male activities
Which brings me on to the need for much greater emphasis and respect for “traditionally” male activities such as woodwork, mechanics, strenuous sports, business skills, etc.
"I realize that sounds sexist, and I’m not suggesting girls shouldn’t or don’t do these things. But boys do thrive in these areas in their teenage years. They like making useful things, getting covered in grease, pushing their bodies to the limits, and especially making money."
But in many schools there’s no recognition for these talents and skills. Everything is weighted towards the academic and the studious."

Don't worry, Murray. It doesn't sound sexist, it IS sexist.
"I’d love to see school prizes reflect the diversity of interests, talents, and abilities in the genders. Can someone please explain to me why Algebra and Geometry are prized so highly above technical skills, manual gifts, and business acumen?"
Oooo, I know this one! In America, it's largely because of Bush's No Child Left Behind plan, which skewed education toward standardized tests and penalized schools that couldn't meet the arbitrary standards! And weirdly, it's easier to test math than it is "technical skills"!
It's also why History has been drastically reduced in the last few decades.
It's almost like he hasn't done any research into this matter at all, because he believes he already knows the answers. This is the result of not being very curious: you ask questions and think yourself wise, but forget to actually pursue answers honestly.
Whatever, the rest of the above is just sexism. Like we mentioned before, it's a case of observing a thing without asking why. And then, assuming answers without doing the work to determine if they're correct.
In my life, I've known a lot more women who were interested in "business acumen" and making money than I did men. I could read a lot into that, or I could just assume that I have a specific sample of the world that doesn't necessarily need to be projected onto the world at large.
"Be patient
Boys do develop later than girls, especially in academics. I flunked the most important exams in my High School (partly because I was bored out of my skull, but mainly because I was devising ways of making my first million when my parents thought I was studying).
I left school one year early with the boast that I’d never read one book in the whole of my high school education. I went straight to work in a large city insurance company and had no thoughts of ever going to college, never mind eventually teaching in a seminary."
I think this tells me more about Murray's character and personal narrative than anything else he's said. In a nugget, at least.

How do you graduate a year early while flunking your exams, and also not read a book? I just… huh.
The argument that boys develop later academically is a complicated one that we won't get into here. It's just worth noting the casual privilege involved in saying you got a job in a "large city insurance company" with crappy grades and little effort right out of high school.
Our school system needs a lot of work, but I don't think the answer is to start focusing on gendered differences between our students.
Whelp, I guess I got an extra dose of racism. Good to know!
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