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Volume 4 Number 1

Corks are popping! January is awards month in the world of children's literature. Esme Codell writes about contenders for the Caldecott award for best illustration in American children's literature, the Newbery for best writing, the Coretta Scott King award, and others...
January Columns
January Articles
January Regular Features
January Informational Items
Gazette Home Delivery:

Letters to the Editor...
Secular Trend and Failing Schools

The Secular Trend and Failing Schools.

Teaching and breast cancer research may
both be “failing” for the same reasons.
Breast cancer incidence continues to
increase in this country and is not due to
increased surveillance or identifiable,
environmental influences. Medical
researchers have been searching
for “causes” for many years. They have
found some genes and toxins that really
increase the probability of breast cancer
in some women, but they have not produced
significantly applicable results for the
vast majority. Innovations in breast
cancer treatment are increasingly
successful but this does not slow the
incidence. Research in education has also
found some causes for learning problems,
but they have not improved the larger,
overall problem. Innovations in teaching
have slowed the declines in education but
have not stopped it.

The increase in size and earlier puberty
occurring in our children, the “secular
trend,” is real and ongoing (Archives of
Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine 2000;
154:155-161). I suggest the secular trend
is an increase in the percentage of
individuals of higher testosterone. They
are more aggressive and sexual; they make
babies faster. (Some say this is due to
better nutrition; better nutrition simply
increases reproduction.) As the percentage
of these people increases, their
characteristics, or “biomarkers,” increase;
e.g. size and earlier puberty. In 1994, I
suggested the biomarker and mechanism of
causation in increasing breast cancer is
increased testosterone. This past year
testosterone has been linked to breast
cancer risk: “…testosterone might be more
strongly associated with [breast cancer]
risk than estradiol.” (Journal of the
National Cancer Institute 2002; 94: 606-
616). I think increasing breast cancer
resides in increases of women of higher
testosterone within our society.

The increase in percentage of individuals
of higher testosterone may also produce
the “biomarker” of reduced ability to
learn. Earlier puberty adversely affects
final development of the prefrontal lobes,
the seat of the ability to form and manage
ideas. This would affect the ability to
learn English and mathematics and reduce
the ability to control impulses, all of
which make learning more difficult. The
biomarker of “learning disabilities” is
significantly associated with higher
testosterone (Physiology & Behavior 1993;
53: 583). I suggest the increase in
percentage of individuals of higher
testosterone within our population is the
cause of our education problems.

The increase in percentage of individuals
of higher testosterone will not be
uniform. There are areas where breast
cancer incidence is high and there are
areas where entire schools “fail.” If my
hypothesis is correct, our national
education problem will continue to worsen,
as will the incidence of breast cancer. We
must increase overall teacher salaries to
continue attracting teachers into a system
which may worsen. Merit pay may not be
appropriate because it is unlikely to be
based on teaching abilities alone.
Teachers who have classes mainly of lower
testosterone individuals may simply have
the simple advantage of location.

James Michael Howard
Fayetteville, Arkansas, U.S.A.

James Michael Howard,,

This month's letters:

  • student teachers, 1/29/03, by andrew.
  • Assessments, 1/21/03, by Cyndy.
  • Fellows' Intrigue, 1/17/03, by Guillermo Rivera.
  • CUBAN TEACHERS WANTING TO MEET IN MIAMI , 1/15/03, by Napoleon Lizardo.
  • Art Teacher, 1/15/03, by manana.
  • Secular Trend and Failing Schools, 1/15/03, by James Michael Howard.
  • contact, 1/11/03, by simon wood.
  • What affects all teachers., 1/06/03, by David Marsh.
  • Teaching, 1/06/03, by Leigh-Ann.
  • Married filing jointly, 1/06/03, by Dan.
  • New tax Law, 1/01/03, by reva.


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