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Boy Writers: Reclaiming Their Voices by…
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Boy Writers: Reclaiming Their Voices

by Ralph Fletcher

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Boy Writers: Reclaiming Their Voices by Ralph Fletcher is a misguided treatise on teaching writing in the classroom. I read it in conjunction with the older and better When You Are Alone/It Keeps You Capone by Myra Cohn Livingston.

Fletcher's thesis is that the school system is so over run by gentle, nurturing women, that there's no room for the rowdy natured boys. Apparently teachers across the country are actively discouraging boys from truly expressing themselves through their writing which because of their boyish nature leans towards gross out jokes, violence, superheroes and the like. Instead, teachers are encouraging girls and their boring stories about families and domesticity.

Are you mad yet? You should be. I certainly am. This book falls into the frustrating gender trap and is doing its best to further marginalize anyone who isn't someone likely to grow into a well off, privileged, white man. Here in a book about teaching are the seeds of bullying, rape culture, racism, sexism, and homophobia.

Think I'm off my rocker? In a chapter on social media (especially chat), there's a section on why boys love to write, especially when it's anonymously and online. The author includes a sample chat where a boy discusses his break up. The conversation quickly devolves into name calling and slut shaming on the part of the girl who isn't there to defend herself. This is conversation is held as a GOOD example of getting boys excited about writing.

And where is the author's hard evidence that there's such an anti-boy conspiracy? Are there any actual scientific or sociological studies cited? No. Any case studies of actual schools? No.

For better examples of the challenges of teaching writing to children any gender, personality, or background, I recommend the older books: When You Are Alone/It Keeps You Capone, and Teacher by Sylvia Ashton-Warner (who has some interesting theories about fear motivating violent writing, rather than it just being some natural "boyish" thing). ( )
  pussreboots | Apr 15, 2015 |
All teachers should read this book. Repeat: All teachers should read this book. I am a mom of boys and a 4th grade teacher who tries really, really hard to run an equitable classroom. I love stinky, naughty, squirrely, squirmy boys. After reading Fletcher's book I will be changing some of my practices.

I knew there was an "issue" among boy writers, but didn't get it until my 1st grader brought home a terrible piece of writing about stuffed animals. I was crabbing at him when he said, "But I thought it was supposed to be about tea parties and dress up, and I don't do that mom!" That hit me like a ton of bricks. He has a fabulous, fabulous teacher and I know that she never expressed that sentiment. After discussing how he could have written about playing army or knights with his stuffed animals, I picked this little gem up.

Let me repeat it one more time: All teachers should read this book!!! ( )
1 vote schwager | Aug 10, 2009 |
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Summary: Asks teachers to imagine the writing classroom from a boy's perspective and consider specific steps we might take to create stimulating classrooms for boys. The book explores important questions such as: What subjects are boy writers passionate about, and what motivates them as writers? Why do boys like to incorporate violence into their stories, and how much should be allowed? Why do we so often misread and misunderstand the humour boys include in their stories?… (more)

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