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    Every Creeping Thing: True Tales of Faintly Repulsive Wildlife: “Conniff is a splendid writer–fresh, clear, uncondescending, and with never a false step; one can’t resist quoting him.” (NY Times Book Review)

    The Species Seekers:  Heroes, Fools, and the Mad Pursuit of Life on Earth by Richard Conniff is “a swashbuckling romp” that “brilliantly evokes that just-before Darwin era” (BBC Focus) and “an enduring story bursting at the seams with intriguing, fantastical and disturbing anecdotes” (New Scientist). “This beautifully written book has the verve of an adventure story” (Wall St. Journal)

    Swimming with Piranhas at Feeding Time by Richard Conniff  is “Hilariously informative…This book will remind you why you always wanted to be a naturalist.” (Outside magazine) “Field naturalist Conniff’s animal adventures … are so amusing and full color that they burst right off the page …  a quick and intensely pleasurable read.” (Seed magazine) “Conniff’s poetic accounts of giraffes drifting past like sail boats, and his feeble attempts to educate Vervet monkeys on the wonders of tissue paper will leave your heart and sides aching.  An excellent read.” (BBC Focus magazine)

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Educate Boys and Girls Equally. Both Matter.

Posted by Richard Conniff on October 25, 2012

I believe in increasing educational opportunities for girls.  But I am disturbed by what seems to be a corresponding tendency to trivialize education of boys. Look on the internet, and you will see the idea sanctified with a supposed African proverb:  “Educate a boy and you educate an individual. Educate a girl and you educate a community.”

As far as I have been able to tell (and please correct me if anybody out there can point out an actual African origin), this fantasy “African proverb” is actually a sort of Reader’s Digest condensation of a thought in Greg Mortenson’s book Three Cups of Tea.

Here’s what Mortenson wrote:

“Once you educate the boys, they tend to leave the villages and go search for work in cities. But the girls stay home, become leaders in the community and pass on what they’ve learned. If you really want to change a culture, to empower women, improve basic hygiene and health care, and fight high rates of infant mortality, the answer is to educate girls.”

So here’s a better condensation of the first half of what Mortenson wrote:  “Educate a boy and you educate a city,” and thus perhaps a nation.

And regarding the second half:  Isn’t it kind of patronizing to think that all you do when you educate a girl is educate a village?

Malala Yousafzai was reaching a little higher than that.  Boys can, too.

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