#theconfidencecode @ClaireShipman @KattyKayBBC – another collection of personal musings whilst conducting research of the #davidfosterwallace archive at the Harry Ransom Center, UT, Austin, TX (Day Eight Entry Four)

Point #4: “[M]any psychologists now believe that risk-taking, failure, and perseverance are essential to confidence-building. “When we observed in grade school classrooms, we saw that boys got eight times more criticism than girls for their conduct,” [Carol] Dweck writes in Mindset. Complicating matters, she told us, girls and boys get different patterns of feedback. “Boys’ mistakes are attributed to a lack of effort,” she says, while “girls come to see mistakes as a reflection of their deeper qualities.””

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For those of us with children, doesn’t that ring true? And I’m talking about from the very early days of a child’s education, where a certain properness (perfection) is expected from the youngest of girls, whilst the boys are almost pre-ordained to be a pain in the ass (not so perfect) and are treated accordingly. It is certainly true of my own childhood recollections, and those as I watch my own children go through the ‘education system.’ It is a ‘system’ for a reason. It is infected with the type of ingrained thinking that marks ‘difference.’ Think of the uniforms and/or boys and girls’ clothing. Take a simple thing like making all students wear dresses/skirts – what would that do to the confidence of the boys? Can you hear the reactions from dads, as they comprehend their sons going off to school in a nice pleated knee-length skirt, or something similar? Take the segregation that occurs around toileting issues – do 4 and 5 year olds really need to be segregated in this manner? What harm would it do to allow them to ‘toilet’ together? Take sports – why can’t, from a very young age, girls and boys compete together in sports such as football and/or soccer, baseball, netball, etc.? These examples are just a few that highlight the fact that ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ are prised apart at a very young age (and this example only really relates to schooling and education – what about all the other stuff?).

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