Book Review

Why Boys Fail

Saving Our Sons from an Educational System That’s Leaving Them Behind

by Richard Whitmire, AMACOM, New York, N.Y., 2010, 239 pp. with index, $24.95 hardcover

Richard Whitmire’s Why Boys Fail alerts us about boys who are having difficulty in school, especially with reading and writing. His work is backed by an extensive body of research about the gender gap that exists from prekindergarten through college worldwide.

Why Boys Fail


The author, a former editorial writer at USA Today, urges the U.S. secretary of education to form a commission to study what has been done in other countries. He cites numerous examples of U.S. schools that have succeeded in breaking through the barriers of the gender gap.

From these excellent examples of schools working successfully with boys, the reader may take issue with the proposed involvement of the federal government. None of the successes came about because of a federal study.

What’s behind this gender gap? Video games, women’s liberation, lack of male teachers, whole language, ideology and teacher training programs are seen as potential culprits, and Whitmire supports or attacks each with evidence.

The author’s writing style is straightforward, fun and void of educationese. The argument placed on the table uncovers the evidence like an episode of TV’s “Crime Scene Investigation.”

The style is captivating. Among the fascinating twists, Whitmire examines some urgent reasons to ensure the gender gap is closed. Among them, the males’ marriagability.

Reviewed by Joseph Rudnicki, education consultant, Aptos, Calif.