How U.S. Schools Are Stifling Male Students

How U.S. Schools Are Stifling Male Students

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Mary Pipher's "Saplings in the Storm" and William S. Pollack's "How U.S. Schools Are Stifling Male Students"

Mary Pipher's "Saplings in the Storm" and William S. Pollack's "How U.S. Schools Are Stifling Male Students" are two writers that are very different but at the same time striving to get to the same goal which is to improve the lives of young children. They go about getting the same results two very different ways. Pipher is a female psychologist who concentrates on the adolescent development of females in today's society. Pollack is a male psychiatrist who writes about boys and the developmental stunting by schools in the United States. Their audience seems to be the same group of people, that off parents, but different kinds of people, parents with girls vs. parents with boys. This would point out that both writers seem to be trying to reach a friendly audience, but this is not apparent in the approaches they take.

Pipher's tone in her piece seems to be more of a concern about the fate of young girls in today's society as she would say it. She takes this tone to try to be more emotionally attached with her audience. For example in one instance she's talking about Polly and how she felt when she started her period, "This left Polly confused and shaky."(Pipher p.240) Including Polly's personal emotions on the situation allows you as the reader to understand emotionally what she is going through. Also to try to get her audience more in touch with her the author she adds direct anecdotes about herself, "Recently I sat sunning on a bench outside my favorite ice-cream store."(Pipher p.241) This adds to the intimate tone she try's to keep throughout the whole piece. She's not just a database of information, but more of a intelligent concerned individual. She wants it be different, she wants a change and she wants this change to come quickly before they loose all their individualism and when she talks about these things her tone slightly changes almost allowing the reader to hear the importance of the situation in her writing, such as "Something dramatic happens to girls in early adolescence. Just as planes and ships disappear mysteriously into the Bermuda Triangle, so do the selves of girls in droves."(Pipher p.241) You can hear the sincerity, the importance of this situation to her in her writing. At the same time she doesn't give any examples of what can be done to remedy this problem.

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She just recognizes that it is there and brings it to our attention in a story like setting; Pollacks tone seems to be more hostile and angry, "Boys are failing in school, our schools are failing our boys."(Pollack p. 262) This being the first sentence a reader sees, he starts the piece off directly and rigid. He recognizes that people notice this decline in performance by boys but he does not understand why it has not stopped. You can hear the indignation and frustration in his writing. He is upset about what is happening to male students in this country and he doesn't understand why it's happening hence the frustration. Each writer takes on these unique tones to elicit a response from the audience. The response they want is that of action, they do not want people to read, recognize, and sit. They want people to read, recognize, and act. With any topic dealing with children there will be an attempt at an emotional appeal to the audience, and I believe this to be true in both pipher's writing and Pollack's writing.

Their style of writing also are different. Pollack uses fact after fact and percentages to back up his argument. "Indeed, 8th grader boys are 50% more likely to be held back than girls."(Pollack p.263) And that being just one of the many he uses to prove his point. He also adds false analogies to try to make his argument that much more effective, for example "Such lowered self-view does more than lead to school failure. It creates a pathway to drugs, violence, depression and suicide." (Pollack p.263) He gives nothing to support this claim, and by itself it's unreasonable. These analogies he uses looses credibility with him to certain audiences, such as younger adults. He compares incomparable events and because he used the facts he uses some might take these analogies as facts, this is done intentionally to make his argument stronger. Pipher's piece was more of a personal narrative. She uses little to no actual facts or numbers like Pollack did, but her piece still gets her point across just the same. "As we talk, the years fall away. We are back in junior high with the cliques, the shame, the embarrassment about bodies, the desire to be accepted and the doubts about ability."(Pipher p.246) This is a perfect example of her getting a valid point across without using any numerical data. Her anecdote seems to be more of a story than an explanation of why things are so, which made it easier for me to swallow but harder for me to except as reality. Pollack's was harder to accept because of the false analogies but easier to see as real because of the raw facts he uses. One who might find this hard to accept is that who he is talking about, a young man but a young woman reading Pipher's would understand what she is talking about and may even relate.

As far as the writers expertise go, Pipher directly makes references to her wisdom on the topic stating "Before I studied psychology, I studied cultural anthropology."(Pipher p. 247) On the other hand Pollack does not do that, instead he shows his skill by research, facts, and data so he does not feel the need to list off his accomplishments in his field of study.
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