Education has become feminized to the point that boys can't relate to it
any better than girls could back in the 1940's and 1950's, when
education was geared to men going to work and women to homemaking. Aside from
sports, schools have very little to keep boys engaged, to channel their vast
energy, or to help them feel the sense of accomplishment they must have on a
daily basis. There has to be a sense of adventure, or they just tune out. Where
have all the wood shop classes gone? Power mechanics classes? Metal shop? Along
with a sense of adventure and pushing themselves, boys require more tactile
interaction with what they're learning (although both boys and girls
benefit from it), or they become bored and lose track. Why do you suppose
there's been an astronomical increase in self-medication/drug abuse among
kids as they become teens? They need to feel important, and they need a
"rush." Or they'll just go find it somewhere else...
The Deseret News Graphic "Perceptions of reading by gender" wasn't
well thought out.It's pretty clear that the "totals
don't add up to 100%" because the boys and girls were allowed to select
more than one option. It's impossible for round-off errors in three
numbers to cause the total to be 122%.And because the categories
overlap, it is meaningless to show the data in a pie chart.
I spent many years teaching elementary school and think that I -- and many of my
colleagues -- have an answer.We've known for a long time that
little boys lag significantly behind little girls in virtually all aspects of
development. They are mentally and physically about a year to a year-and a half
behind. Yet we insist on pushing them in to school at the same as girls and
then wonder why they can't handle what is expected of them. If brain cells
haven't been connected, how can messages get through. What would happen if
we gave boys a fighting chance by letting the girls start school at age five,
but kept the boys out until they are six or seven? 80% of our
school behavior problems are boys. 80% of our dropouts are boys. 80% of our
prisoners are boys. 80% of our illiterate adults are boys.I'll
bet we'd solve 80% of those problems if we just gave them more time to grow
up before pushing them through the classroom door.
I keep hearing about the "feminization" of schools, but I can't
find any books or research about this. My initial response is to call this claim
baloney, BUT I don't really know how school was different in the past that
made it more masculine. Any book or author suggestions that might enlighten me?
Interesting article and good comments most are to the point and true. Everyone
but education knows tht boys and girls interest are different and they need
different motivations to learn and become what they are meant to be, men and
women. The saying boys will be boys and girls will be girls is what makes an
education system work. Schools have tried to wipe out individualism by forcing
boys and girls to act, talk, and think like a unisex robot and it doesn't
work.Gender is a dividing line whether schools like it or not.
Gender is as different as night and day and boys and girls will never be equal
in abilities and education, this is where schools are denying every child the
pursuit of their individual abilities and dreams. Education has become a failed
experiment to create robotic indifference. I don't think age
should be a consideration to starting school, children have this insatiable
learning appetite from birth and gender recognition and ability is very much a
part of their learning. Schools policy are roadblocks a childs mind
can't overcome so they regress and shy away and become anti social shuned
spirits unable to learn.
Clutch:The trend used to be to cater to boys in school. Here are a
few examples:Boys were: Called on more and given more
validation for comments and questions. Given more help in math
(Studies showed when a boy asked for help in math, he was more likely to get
serious, productive help than when a girl asked for help)Encouraged
to solve problems on their own while girls were told to not worry about it, work
together, or, wait for it . . . ask a boy for help.The answer, for
better or worse, was to teach teachers to create a scaffold for girls.
Unfortunately many teachers believed the only way to effectively do that was to
ignore boys.* * *One Old Man is correct in pointing out
the developmental differences between boys and girls, and it is at least worth
exploring if problems can be helped by delayed entry for boys. My fear as a
teacher is the age difference will prove problematic at the high school level,
but the discussion needs to take place.
As an educator, I ALWAYS try to keep in mind the differences between how boys
learn and how girls learn. They are vastly different. I believe that many of
my collegues are not patient with boys. Sometimes we expect them to just sit
still and listen like their female counterparts all day long. This is not only
unfair, but torture for young boys who just need to move.As a society, we
have been focusing too hard on placing females equally with males in the
classroom. It is about time that we wake up and spend some energy on boys.
Unfortunatly,they are, by and large, failing in our classrooms. As educators we
need to remember that ALL students need success not only in the classroom, but
Some examples of our illiteracy in math:* when looking at our
national debt, many people don't know the difference between million,
billion, and trillion.* most of our citizens can't budget, and are in
debt.* we are importing foreign workers because their math skills are
sharper then ours.* we're becoming a nation of beggars, and whiners,
as illiteracy spreads. Go into an elementary school and examine how
math is being taught. It's terrible, and difficult to understand. Compare
the teaching methods to how it was taught in the 50's.
During this past school year, I had the opportunity to substitute in a classroom
of just boys. Sixth grade. All the girls were off on a field trip that day. What
a great day! Those boys were delightful. I was able to change things up a bit
from the usual way of doing things, and the boys enjoyed learning and behaved
better than I had ever seen them behave. Just saying...
I publish a homeschool curriculum. I had one father call me asking how he could
get his 12 year old son motivated to gain an education. I had thought for years
that if you could take under performers in the middle school years (6ht through
8th grade) and let them experience life without an education it could do
wonders.Turns out the father that called me is a general contractor.
I suggested that he take his son on a "job shadow", by having his 12
year old help insulate crawl spaces. The father knew a contractor that did
that. After a week of insulating crawlspaces (and the father had to go in with
him at first) the kid was grateful to do his school work instead.Now
anytime the kid balks at doing his homework he is offered a refresher under a
@Springvillepoet:"My fear as a teacher is the age difference
will prove problematic at the high school level, but the discussion needs to
take place."OK, here's some discussion... If boys are held
back and not started in school until 7 or 8 they will forever be behind... and
even worse.Perhaps an approach could be to separate boys and girls,
until high school, and get teachers for each group who know how to teach each
Nice piece on NPR years ago about a teacher that had taught first graders for 50
years and never had one leave her class that did not know how to read. She read
"Moby Dick" and the readers read and the others could follow along with
easy words along the top (words that had been pulled out of the narrative and
placed at the top of the page). Her opinion was that with all the bodies on the
boat and gore from the story . . . it kept them all interested and they wanted
to read. She did lament that she wished it wasn't so but . . . 50 years.
Before I heard this piece I had worked with my kids and did have one that
didn't want to read. I made a deal with him. If he read his required
stuff he could pick out the comic book of his choice. We eventually found comic
book classics. The Edgar Allen Poe one with his stories in comic book form.
Never had to look back after that.So as a suggestion: Reward reading with
reading. Get Dad to do it
The fact is all kids vary developmentally. If you try to force a kid to learn
something they aren't ready for, they will hate it because it will be too
hard. Would you try to "make" a 12 month old child walk? No, because
that's ridiculous. It's not that much difference with reading. Some
are ready to learn at 5, a few at 3, a few aren't ready until about 8 or
so. Once a kid is ready to learn, it's actually pretty easy to teach them,
but if they aren't ready it's torture for them and you. I
homeschooled my 3, so I speak from experience. If you can't
homeschool, and your child isn't ready, then keep them back a year. Play
games, go to the library, read to them. And turn off the TV and don't get
a video game system at least until they are all well established readers.
Demisana, your line, "Play games, go to the library, read to them. And turn
off the TV and don't get a video game system at least until they are all
well established readers." Is one of the best comments on here.Thanks for recognizing one of the worst problems our kids face.
Doesn't it seem likely that the problems stem from the lack of male
teachers in elementary? Grades K-3 have been proven to be the most vital in
developing math and reading skills, yet these are the grades with the fewest
male teachers. I would be willing to bet that since the girls connect better
with their teachers, they are more willing to participate and more excited to
learn. I had 1 male teacher during these developmental years of school and
I've experienced firsthand that boys learn better when given a male
teacher.Now,I'm not suggesting that we neglect the needs of the
girls. But a more even spread of gender across teachers would even the playing
field. The only way to do this is to increase salaries of teachers.
One of the big problems is that many children of both genders, shouldn't be
going to school so young. They should be playing creative homespun child play,
minus television, computers, electronic games, and preschool and all day
kindergarten. Our all-wise education system promotes younger children being
stuck in classroom scenes when they would be far better off playing on a
playground, with toys, and their parents (two of them of two genders).For most children, and boys more so, school is a drag. I realized that just as
soon as I started at age six (no K then) and have been promoting less school
ever since. I have taught school for about 25 years so I'm not entirely
Why the emphasis on being able to read? I would prefer abilities to solve math
an other logic problems. No wonder females score higher... testing involves
whether you've read books and stories such as A Little Princess and
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. Tests are
skewed to the wrong abilities.
The classroom is primarily set up for the kids to be still, quiet, obedient and
focused on memory work and homework, All things which are natural to females,
but totally foreign to most boys who learn best "hands on" and active.
In spite of their seeming failures in school, it's primarily the boys that
go on to be the innovators, engineers, and thinkers. Boys need to be taught
differently than girls and the school system has not done this. I always
thought that school just got in the way of my education.
Well, I just graduated from high school and I do not know what this
"feminization" of education is. Most of the classes I took during my
school were very hands on projects that interested both boys and girls. The fact
is, most of the time we actually learned LESS from these hands on projects
because students just saw them as a time to goof off. There are some classes
that really can only be taught through lectures such as history or else you
couldn't get through all the information you needed to in a year. There are way too many generalizations going on here. Some boys do just fine
in the lecture environment and girls prefer hands on projects. The best way to
close the reading gap is to get boys to read not separate boys and girls.
@ teachermom6 Your comment, "As a society, we have been focusing too hard on
placing females equally with males in the classroom" is an interesting one,
and one that echoes the attitutudes I hear (to my horror) often in Utah. First of all, while the genders are different in their learning preferences
and (though it varies in degree by the individual) and their interests the
majority of the time, boys and girls are EQUALLY able intellectually. I hope
you are not suggesting that the school system in general is spending too much
time "propping up" the learning of girls (in the attempt to make them
equal and all) and that is why boys are falling behind. I'd love for
someone to offer any kind of rational proof that supports the idea that the
classroom has changed dramatically to assist girls AND that these changes can be
linked to boys falling behind. Until you have that,
I personally believe women are generally more gifted at language, as they tend
to use it more than most men. While there are men that enjoy talking, it is far
more common to encounter groups and gaggles of cackling geese-women who enjoy it
that much more. I think most boys read to accomplish a task, while girls do it
more for the enjoyment. I remember a very manly friend of mine once
expressing horror at the very idea of a book club. "What!?" he
exclaimed, "You mean you ALL go through all the trouble to read the stupid
book, and then after that you want to actually talk about it?" Then he
suggested, "Why not have one person read the book, and report to the rest
what it was about?"
At least in the past, boys were better and more interested in math, but not as
good in language skills. Has this changed?
Maybe there IS an innate difference between boys and girls? And to those that
talk about the feminization of schools, let me share this: the vast majority of
boys and the vast majority of girls can be easily categorized. Boys are
competition driven and girls are collaboration driven. It can easily be seen as
boys tend to enjoy sports where girls have dance class or book clubs, for
example. The schools have moved to cater more to the girl's form of
learning, that is to get into teams and do group projects; everything is about
working together. When I was in school, I remember a chart that the teacher put
in front of the class that had every child's name and which multiplication
tables each child had passed off. Knowing where I stood, drove me in that
regard. While reading skills are important, they are also far from the sole
measurement of a child's learning. I really don't enjoy reading, but
that hasn't stopped me from being successful in school and in my chosen
career. Maybe it is time to revisit the tool we are measuring kids with.
As a classroom teacher, I was a little surprised to hear that we have
"feminized" our classrooms. We are reaching out to boys more now than
ever at my school. We are aware that there are gaps for boys. I feel that
using non-fiction for boys, and even comic books will help. But both boys and
girls need hands-on experiences to help them make sense out of literature. We
blend our own experiences with words to understand what we read. PLEASE take
time away from technology, have family experiences, read, go hiking, and talk
around the dinner table. These are the things which benefit boys and girls
I am a male, and the last time I read a novel was my sophomore year in high
school. It was the Count of Monte Cristo. I loved the book, but still hated
reading it. I am now a junior in college, so it has been many years since I
have read a novel. To be frank, I have always hated reading anything lengthy.
All throughout jr high and high school I received low grades in English; not
because I was 'bad' at it, but because I just never read the required
900 pages per term (100 per week). I just never had the patience to sit there
hours on end reading line after line. Numbers are what I was/still
am interested in. I'm currently and engineering major so that explains why
I haven't read a book in years. Now, I do read, a lot. But most of it
comes in the form of textbooks and online articles and comment sections. I will
admit I am not the best reader, but I think the reason I have disliked reading
is it, to me, is a very inefficient way of portraying information. (cont...)
(cont...)When I learn about a mathematic/engineering principle, the
numbers tell so much more than meets the eye, and I like that. It's a much
more efficient way of presenting information. Numbers just make sense to me.
They are concrete and rarely vague. I wish my primary education would have
focused more on my strengths than just a breadth of information and subjects. I
think the fact that I show up to class and girls are always a minority tells you
that mentally we are different. That's not to say females can't be
engineers, because they can be great engineers. It just seems that it is more
along the lines of what guys like. I don't really know what the point of
my post is, other than to point out that some people just don't like
reading. But it doesn't mean they're not smart. I hope to enjoy
reading more, and that has seemed to be the case as I have gotten a bit older.
But numbers/math/science are my forte, and I think I'll work on improving
those skills more than my reading skills. It takes all kinds!
The biggest problem with schools is that it's government ran:*
too many layers of administration with its accompanying rules, regulations,
paper work, and funding.* wasted time and money with standardized testing
which does little for learning and teaching.* provides little independent
time for children to explore and build curiosity. Too much micro management.* philosophical ideas shaped by one central power can lead to the loss of
independence and freedoms.
Why does the gap need to be bridged? Boys are better at some things (math) and
girls are better at others. It actually would be surprising if any two groups of
people were exactly as good at everything. We are all different and we all have
different talents abilities and interests.
Our son used to say, "I'm not reading that...you can tell it's
written by a girl!" And it's true! Non-fiction seems better for boys;
there's nothing like an almanac for short bursts of interesting reading
that fosters curiosity and the desire to read more. Also, have your boys help
you every time you buy something that needs to be put together.They read the
directions and help construct the new item. It's a win-win situation.
Discovering what interests them and then leaving books and projects around makes
all of the difference!