Challenging Toxic Stereotypes About Our Children
Caryl Rivers and Rosalind C. Barnett are widely acclaimed for their analyses of women, men, and society. In The Truth About Girls and Boys, they tackle a new, troubling trend in the theorizing of gender: that the learning styles, brain development, motivation, cognitive and spatial abilities, and "natural" inclinations of girls and boys are so fundamentally different, they require unique styles of parenting and education.
Ignoring the science that challenges these claims, those who promote such theories make millions while frightening parents and educators into enforcing old stereotypes and reviving unhealthy attitudes in the classroom. Rivers and Barnett unmake the pseudoscientific rationale for this argument, stressing the individuality of each child and the specialness of his or her talents and desires. They recognize that in our culture, girls and boys encounter different stimuli and experiences, yet encouraging children to venture outside their comfort zones helps them realize a multifaceted character. Educating parents, teachers, and general readers in the true nature of the gender game, Rivers and Barnett enable future generations to transform if not transcend the parameters of sexual difference.
BRAVO! This is a much needed, informative, and engaging book. The authors, Rosalind C. Barnett (a highly respected research psychologist) and Caryl Rivers (a skilled journalist), take the reader on a critical and clarifying tour of claims about categorical, biologically-based sex differences used to justify the move towards more publicly funded single-sex schooling. This book is a significant contribution to an area of heated debate and policy struggle. Parents, teachers, and policy-makers can turn to it as a reliable guide through a thicket of hype and over-claiming. The authors do an excellent job of unpacking empirical assertions, exposing shabby "science," unfounded generalizations and jumps of logic.
Barrie Thorne, Professor of Sociology, and Gender and Women's Studies, University of California, Berkeley. Author of Gender Play: Girls and Boys in School.
The gloves are off. Rivers and Barnett provide a convincing case that much of what parents, teachers, and the general public know about differences between girls and boys is based on highly publicized accounts of shoddy and misleading science. They provide readers with an understanding of the ways girls and boys are similar and different and how we can use that knowledge to raise happy, healthy, and successful children.
Diane F. Halpern, past-president, American Psychological Association, and author of Sex Differences in Cognitive Abilities (fourth edition)
A bracing antidote to conventional wisdom. Like Malcolm Gladwell, Rivers and Barnett take readers into the world of research and emerge with surprising and unsettling conclusions. Teachers, educators, parents, journalists, and researchers would do well to read this book before hopping on the bandwagon about the 'differences' between girls and boys.
Jonathan Kaufman, Pulitzer-Prize-winning reporter and education editor at Bloomberg News
The Truth About Girls and Boys is exactly thatߜthe real story behind over-hyped claims of sex difference and their harming of girls and boys. Rivers and Barnett expose the sloppy journalism that has allowed pseudoscientific ideas to percolate into our collective beliefs about gender development. Parents, teachers, and policymakers will do well to read this book, to rescue today's girls and boys from false claims of 'hardwired' differences limiting their learning and stunting their futures.
Lise Eliot, author of Pink Brain, Blue Brain: How Small Differences Grow Into Troublesome Gaps and What We Can Do About It
Caryl Rivers and Rosalind C. Barnett's dissection of the ways tired stereotypes are being repackaged as 'science' is urgently important. It must be read immediately by parents, educatorsߜanyone who believes children should develop their full intellectual and emotional potential.
Peggy Orenstein, author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture
The Truth About Girls and Boys is a must read for anyone vouchsafed with the upbringing, care, teaching, or social policy that impacts our most precious legacy: our childrenߜgirls and boys. We must read this 'game changing' book, ponder its meaning, and not put it down until we move from our present position of empty-minded acceptance to open-minded and critical thinking. Rivers and Barnett throw out a sturdy life preserver to bring us back from the harm of mangled pseudoscience to the shores of thoughtful, gender equitable understanding.
William S. Pollack, author of Real Boys: Rescuing Our Boys from the Myths of Boyhood
Rivers and Barnett provide insightful examples to show how sex stereotypes ranging from aggression to sexualized body images are based on inaccurate and often harmful generalizations. They make a powerful case against a key rationale for sex-segregated education ߛ that girls and boys learn differently, and therefore should be taught differently and in sex segregated classes. Instead, they conclude that heterogeneous groups and attention to individuals will do more to maximize opportunities and improve society.
Sue Klein, Ed.D, Education Equity DirectorFeminist Majority Foundation
This is an excellent and important book, clearly written yet also packed with documentation.
Buy It RIGHT NOW. Run to the bookstore. Knock over children and old ladies if you have to. Just get your hands on this book!
...simple, direct, and accessible prose.
Should be given to new parents, educations, coaches, and anyone with the ability to influence the path of young lives. It's packed with excellent advice.
Because of the topic and accessibility of the writing, parents and teachers should be encouraged to read this book.
1. Introduction2. Brains in Pink and Blue?3. More Pink and Blue4. Math Wars5. Word Play6. Toy Choice7. The More Aggressive Sex?8. Caring9. The Ideal Classroom10. Single-Sex Education, Pros and Cons11. ConclusionNotesIndex