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Thursday, April 10, 2014

book - Swagger

10 urgent rules for raising boys in an area of failing schools, 
mass joblessness, and thug culture 
by Lisa Bloom

This was such a great read! Published in 2012, author Lisa Bloom tells it like it is, in an easy to understand format. She knows boys very well, having a son of her own. She seems to really get them, understand what they are interested in and what is affecting them negatively nowadays. I found this book fascinating - I read it in two days! That never happens in my busy mama life.

Image from Google

Bloom encourages parents to follow 10 rules to supporting their boys as they grow into productive, responsible young men. These rules include:
  • 10 Rules:
    • Lose the Swagger, Kid (get rid of the attitude)
      • This is about helping your son realize when he's acting like a thug, how he should be respectful toward everyone and watching what he's listening to and watching around him. 
    • Set College Expectations Early and Often
      • College should be talked about often and early on in boys' lives. College is the goal, the option, where they should be headed. Parents should focus on this early on. 
    • Make Your Home a Reading Mecca
      • Because boys lag behind girls in academic areas, helping to encourage reading as a good positive thing in their lives is vital in ensuring that they can make it in the real world someday, get into college, and have successful futures. 
    • Eliminate the Competition 
      • Sports do not have to be all about winning and losing at others' expenses. Teach respect and sportsmanship. Watch sports with your child, talk about what you see and hear. 
    • Become Aware of the Data Pinging In and Out of Your Boy's Brain
      • It's important to notice, observe, watch, and know in and out what your son is taking in for data and technology. Know the video games and listen to the music lyrics. This is your son's language, you need to know how to speak it. 
    • Teach Your Boy to Be Ever-Critical of All Media
      • Don't just tell your son the rap music he likes is crude and disrespectful. Instead, help him to analyze it for himself. What does he really think of the words or the artists? Does he really agree with how they act/sound? 
    • Support His Teacher
      • Don't be against what his teacher suggests or reports to you. Teachers are generally out to support your child and help him grow, not be against him. Work with your teacher. Communicate often and ask questions. 
    • Teach Him to Respect Girls and Women
      • Pretty straightforward, this one's important. Model this at home, that's key.
    • Make Community Service a Regular Part of Your Family Life
      • Teach him to treat others how he wants to be treated, to give back, to be a helpful individual. 
    • Take Him Away (travel)
      • Travel! Show him other parts of the world, how things are always worse in some places and how things are different in others. 
What's the Problem?
Bloom explained a lot of what is going on with boys now being related to media, technology and social culture. These are difficult things to tackle, but she gives you hope that it can be done. 

  • Boys think reading is girly, they turn away from it at a young age... affecting their test scores and overall education.
  • 69% of hip hip and rap songs refer to illegal drug use
  • "There is one road for boys who don't overcome their failing schools, who aren't exceptional enough to find a job where there is none, who absorb the message that real men express anger via gun violence or who use or sell drugs to escape or to make a few bucks, and that road has one dead end terminus: our ever-expanding, bursting-to-the-seams prisons." (page xi)
  • Prison population is the highest currently in U.S. history
  • "You need to know. You need to stare down the reality and critically discuss media messages with your boy. In these and so many other areas, knowledge is power when raising your son to manhood." (page xiii)
  • In 10 more years 60% of all jobs will require a college degree.  (page 23)
  • "Young people today are the first generation in US history slated to be less educated than their parents." (page 23)
  • Boys get expelled from preschool at almost five times the rate of girls. (page 29)
  • "The parents of the little guys who got cut (from preschool)... who often feel it's just their son, their humiliating individual problem. But it's not. Too many young boys, who tend to be fidgety and have a harder time sitting still and listening for long stretches, experience the confines of school as a punishment, zoning out until recess or sports time. As days go by and their usually female teachers label them as 'bad' in a setting where boisterousness is considered disruptive, these boys go home and complain that they hate school and don't want to return. Forced back each morning, they rebel and act out further, until finally the teacher has had it and they're out of there, learning their first real lesson about school: their type isn't welcome there." (page 29)
  • drugs = good life symbols with rap music, etc. 
  • "Jail and prison population is 93 percent male; our juvenile detention population is 85 percent male... a young male is more than 10 times as likely to find himself incarcerated as a young female." (page 93)
  • "Young Americans between the ages of eight and eighteen on average spend more than seven and a half hours a day receiving images, text, and sound on a smart phone, computer, television, or other electronic device. During much of that time they are multitasking, such as watching TV while chatting online, thereby doubling or tripling their media exposure." (page 68)
  • "American infants and toddlers today spend twice as much time watching TVs and DVDs than they do with books." (page 145)
  • "Translation: popular kids' TV messes with kids' minds.... because children's developing brains are just not able to process all the noise, lights, graphics, flashbang-kazaam, split-second lighting-fast speed of it all. Their brains slow down like hard drives with too many applications open." page 147
  • "We found every additional hour of TV exposure among toddlers corresponded to a future decrease in classroom engagement and success at math, increased victimization by classmates, a more sedentary lifestyle, higher consumption of junk food and ultimately , higher body mass index." (page 147)
  • We need to learn about the technology our kids are into so that we can help protect them and keep them safe. "The key fact about new media is this: your boy's screen time is not 'virtual reality' to him. It is a vital part of his everyday experience, as real as his breakfast cereal and your goodnight kiss. If you ignore it, you are closing your eyes to a major - perhaps the major - part of his life." (page 162)

What do do: Set higher expectations for our boys and STAY the course with them.
  • "Because that's our real job, and because we can. Protecting them, raising them right, shoring up a healthy future for them is possible. It is eminently doable. We may not be able to turn around our thug culture, our schools or our unemployment rates single-handedly, but we can create profound, life-changing solutions in our children's lives once we decide that this will be our focus." (page 107)
  • College is expected. College will be doable. (page 129) have this attitude with boys 
  • 85% of juvenile offenders are illiterate. 70% of young men locked up on prisons are illiterate. Teach him to read! 
  • "Two-thirds of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of fourth grade will end up in jail or on welfare. The fourth grade is the watershed year." (page 137)
  • READ with your child... not at night before bed, not alone, but in front of him. Have him see you read, especially dads, boys look up to dads, if they see them reading they will, too. 
  • "Sell reading as though your boy's life depends on it, because it does." 
Overall, I really recommend this book, especially if you teach or work with boys, but definitely as a mother of boys. It has great information to apply to your son's life.

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