A recent study was published and reviewed in the NYT that detailed growing pressures in education and its affect on well-being.
A particular passage stood out in the essay:
Professor Sax has explored the role of the faculty in college students’ emotional health, and found that interactions with faculty members were particularly salient for women. Negative interactions had a greater impact on their mental health.“Women’s sense of emotional well-being was more closely tied to how they felt the faculty treated them,” she said. “It wasn’t so much the level of contact as whether they felt they were being taken seriously by the professor. If not, it was more detrimental to women than to men.”
She added: “And while men who challenged their professor’s ideas in class had a decline in stress, for women it was associated with a decline in well-being.”
I don’t want to extrapolate, but I saw a connection regarding education, gender and the suppression of the critical consciousness.
In males, challenging others- be it physically or mentally- requires a dominate mindset. This mindset reflects physiologically through a power posture and hormonal changes in testosterone.
When dominance is asserted in males there is an increase of hormones such as testosterone which correlates with an increased sense of well being.
Formal education is inherently oppressive. Ideas presented by teachers are not open for discussion. Students are empty receptacles that are filled daily by knowledge precognized by an authority figure, in this case the teacher, and later tested for regurgitation and imitation ability.
My question is this: Does formal education feminize men?
It certainly decreases their sense of well being. Why? By passively receiving ideas and information it robs them of their man hood, their ability to assert themselves and challenge others. This trait is integral to the primal nature of man.
On an off-shoot: Is this why the Greeks were so steeped in homosexuality? Does education, oppression, emasculate males and reduce their masculinity to a more feminine, passive state? Is education via teach student a form of domination over others? Is it just me, or is there a correlation between education attainment and femininity? Do males become more feminine with more education? Or are high achieving academic males successful because they have challenged ideas and refined their intellect in that pursuit? [It would be interesting to look at teaching style (lecture/discussion) and masculinity/femininity traits]
If masculinity and femininity are inextricably tied to well-being, they cannot be overlooked as simple social constructs. They must be examined as integral to the physiology and psychology of males and females.
It is interesting to note that women experience a decrease in well being when ideas are challenged. The more passive females are, the more feminine and a greater sense of well being. The more masculine, the more dominate, the less feminine and a decrease in well being is experienced.
Since women seem to be naturally disposed to passively receiving ideas, something that is a commodity in the classroom, perhaps the formal education debate regarding its oppressive nature should be minimized to the scope of males? Is that why we are seeing more women attend college and achieve higher test scores than males?
Perhaps women need environments where they learn passively, whereas men need environments that allow them to learn by challenging ideas and concepts?
As a man, what I gathered from the passage is this: Males: assert yourself. Develop the critical consciousness and experience a greater well being.