Did you ever happen to see the 1960 film Where the Boys Are? I had to view it once as part of a college history class assignment. It’s about four college girls who head to Florida on spring break, which happens to be, you know, where the boys are. One finds true love, the rest don’t, but they all find the boys.
The movie – or to be more accurate, the movie title – came to mind as I sat in my school’s end-of-the-year awards assembly this week. All students in grades 5 through 11 (the seniors are already gone) assemble in our auditorium to honor the top students in each grade level in each subject area, from mathematics to the arts. Usually, our academic dean calls up to the stage all the students in grades 5-8 in a given subject area at the same time, and then he moves on to the 9-11 grades. So small groups of students are arranged on the stage all at the same time. After about the third or fourth grouping to be called to the stage, the movie title Where the Boys Are suddenly popped into my head. The boys may have been on the beaches of Florida in that film, but I’ll tell you where the boys aren’t these days: on the stage, i.e. at the top of their classes. In group after group, the number of girls far outweighed the number of boys. In some cases, there were no boys at all. It didn’t matter if it was middle school or upper school, it didn’t matter if it was science or history, the boys just weren’t there.
In case you missed it, there was a march for women’s rights in Washington, D.C. and around the country recently. I promise I’m not going to get into the politics of the march because, let’s face it, many of us are sick of politics by now. I will say, however, that I find it interesting that the young women in my school appear to be doing incredibly well for themselves right now despite the rhetoric that the deck is stacked against them because of their gender. It’s not just the school awards they are winning either. They are racking up the National Merit Awards, the AP scores, the academic scholarships, etc. I am proud and excited for them, as we all should be. At the same time, I’m worried for the boys. I’m wondering how we can engage them and motivate them because, at least from my seat in that auditorium, it didn’t appear like we were reaching them. And that’s a problem.