Archive for the ‘Teaching Girls’ Category

School Teacher Queries the Value of Girls Learning Instead of Marrying

November 30, 2015

Blanche Girouard facebook image, PROBABLY author of Portobello People and she's also an RE teacher at the elite girls’ public school St Pauls **FACEBOOK GRAB FOR MOS PICTURE DESK**

What can I say about this?

Instead of lamenting the seriousness that girls have about their education and future, we should be focusing on why boys don’t learn by their example:


A private school teacher has complained about how “today’s girls aren’t going on nature walks or learning poetry off by heart – they’re cramming their heads full of facts”. 

Blanche Girouard, who teaches religious education at the £20,000 a year St Paul’s Girls’ School, also suggested girls were happier when they were simply expected to marry rather than go to university.

Writing for The Oldie magazine, Ms Girouard praised an era when “everything seemed to be geared towards marriage” and “parents really didn’t seem to care” about educating girls.

Although she later acknowledges “it seems heinous that parents had such limited ambition for their bright daughters,” she adds: “And yet there are aspects of that era that are enviable.”

Parents who had daughters at the school strongly disagreed with the teacher’s comments.

After bemoaning how girls were “cramming their heads full of facts”, she wrote: “It’s time we backed off and gave today’s girls the time and space to work out what they actually want.

“Happiness and success don’t turn on A*s and a place at Oxford.”


Click on the link to read Why do Boys Score Better than Girls at Maths?

Click on the link to read Should We Include Feminism in the Curriculum?

Click on the link to read Arguments For and Against Single-Sex Education

Click on the link to read The Perfect Example of Courage and Self-Respect


Why do Boys Score Better than Girls at Maths?

July 31, 2012

At a time when girls are outscoring boys in most subject it is surprising to me that boys still maintain the edge in math. A recent study explains why:

From an early age, boys tend to take a more impulsive approach to math problems in the classroom, which might help them get ahead of girls in the long-run, suggests the latest study to touch on the gender gap in math.

The research claims girls may tend to favor a slow and accurate approach — often computing an answer by counting — while boys may take a faster, but more error-prone tack, calling out an answer from memory. The difference in strategies seems to benefit girls early in elementary school but swings in favor of boys by middle school.

“In our study, we found that boys were more likely to call out answers than girls, even though they were less accurate early in school,” Drew Bailey, who led the study, said in a statement. “Over time, though, this practice at remembering answers may have allowed boys to surpass girls in accuracy.”

The University of Missouri study followed 300 students from first grade to sixth grade. During those first two years, the boys called out more answers in class than the girls but also had more wrong answers. Girls were more often right, but answered fewer questions and responded more slowly, according to the university. By sixth grade, the boys were still answering more problems than the girls and were also getting more correct.

Click on the link to read Should We Include Feminism in the Curriculum?

Click on the link to read Arguments For and Against Single-Sex Education

Click on the link to read The Perfect Example of Courage and Self-Respect

Should We Include Feminism in the Curriculum?

July 12, 2012

I believe that we should concentrate on the things that make us alike, not our differences. There may have been a time when ‘feminism’ warranted being in the curriculum, but I believe those days have passed. Instead, I believe we should concentrate on mutual respect.

Ashley Lauren, writing for disagrees:

Feminism should be taught in school.

In every class from English to history, math to science, parenting to auto mechanics, there is room for feminism. It could be something as grand as teaching about women’s roles in history to something as simple as asserting that girls can work on cars, too, but it should be a part of every class, every day.

Historically, women — and other oppressed groups — have been marginalized. Literally. We have been relegated to boxes in the margins of textbooks as if to say, “This is what the women were doing back at home while the men were off at war.  It fits into this little box which must mean that it wasn’t that important and it won’t be on the test.” Imagine what that does to the self-esteem of the girls seated in the classroom.

Teaching feminism is important for many, many reasons. First, studying feminism can “reinvigorate girls’ sense of self-worth and to help pupils think about the gender implications of their language and image.” Second, as of this 2008 study, 84% of girls said that they are under an enormous amount of pressure to dress the right way. That was up from 75% in 2000. Third, and perhaps scariest of all, is that girls are starting to accept sexual assault and sexual harassment at school as a way of life.

Arguments For and Against Single-Sex Education

July 8, 2012

I am glad that I teach both boys and girls in my Grade 3 classroom.  I find it more challenging and the social dynamic can be quite fascinating. At the same time, I can understand why many prefer a single-sex classroom to a co-ed one.

Below are some popular arguments put forwards in favour of single-sex classrooms:

  • Some parents don’t want their children to be in mixed-gender classrooms because, especially at certain ages, students of the opposite sex can be a distraction.
  • Leonard Sax and others agree that merely placing boys in separate classrooms from girls accomplishes little. But single-sex education enhances student success when teachers use techniques geared toward the gender of their students.
  • Some research indicates that girls learn better when classroom temperature is warm, while boys perform better in cooler classrooms. If that’s true, then the temperature in a single-sex classroom could be set to optimize the learning of either male or female students.
  • Some research and reports from educators suggest that single-sex education can broaden the educational prospects for both girls and boys. Advocates claim co-ed schools tend to reinforce gender stereotypes, while single-sex schools can break down gender stereotypes. For example, girls are free of the pressure to compete with boys in male-dominated subjects such as math and science. Boys, on the other hand, can more easily pursue traditionally “feminine” interests such as music and poetry. One mother, whose daughter has attended a girls-only school for three years, shares her experience on the GreatSchools parent community: “I feel that the single gender environment has given her a level of confidence and informed interest in math and science that she may not have had otherwise.”


Below are some arguments put forward by critics of single-sex classrooms:

  • Few educators are formally trained to use gender-specific teaching techniques. However, it’s no secret that experienced teachers usually understand gender differences and are adept at accommodating a variety of learning styles within their mixed-gender classrooms.
  • Gender differences in learning aren’t the same across the board; they vary along a continuum of what is considered normal. For a sensitive boy or an assertive girl, the teaching style promoted by advocates of single-sex education could be ineffective (at best) or detrimental (at worst). For example, a sensitive boy might be intimidated by a teacher who “gets in his face” and speaks loudly believing “that’s what boys want and need to learn.”
  • Students in single-sex classrooms will one day live and work side-by-side with members of the opposite sex. Educating students in single-sex schools limits their opportunity to work cooperatively and co-exist successfully with members of the opposite sex.
  • At least one study found that the higher the percentage of girls in a co-ed classroom, the better the academic performance for all students (both male and female). Professor Analia Schlosser, an economist from the Eitan Berglas School of Economics at Tel Aviv, found that elementary school, co-ed classrooms with a majority of female students showed increased academic performance for both boys and girls. In high school, the classrooms with the best academic achievement were consistently those that had a higher percentage of girls. Dr. Schlosser theorizes that a higher percentage of girls lowers the amount of classroom disruption and fosters a better relationship between all students and the teacher.
  • The American Council on Education reports that there is less academic disparity between male and female students overall and a far greater achievement gap between students in different racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups, with poor and minority students children faring poorly. Bridging that academic chasm, they argue, deserves more attention than does the gender divide.
  • Single-sex education is illegal and discriminatory, or so states the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) . In May 2008, the ACLU filed suit in federal court, arguing that Breckinridge County Middle School’s (Kentucky) practice of offering single-sex classrooms in their public school is illegal and discriminatory. The school doesn’t require any child to attend a single-sex class, yet the suit argues that the practice violates several state and federal laws, including Title IX and the equal Educational Opportunities Act.


Maths is Taught So Poorly

February 13, 2012

I realise that what I am writing is a gross generalisation, but I believe that maths is generally taught in a very abstract and monotonous way. No wonder the students are not benefitting from maths instruction at the primary level. Traditional maths teaching involves worksheets, a mindless array of algorithms and plenty of other rote styled goodies.

The tragedy of it all is that maths can be taught in a completely different way. I find the basic skills of maths the most refreshing and creatively exciting subject to teach. The fact that maths is a composite of everyday skills means it translates wonderfully to problem solving activities.

The other day, whilst teaching ordering numbers up to 4 digits, I got my 8-year-old students into groups, each given a particular airline to reasearch. The groups had to find the 3 lowest airfares for a return domestic trip between certain dates and times, These prices were then compared and ordered from least expensive to most expensive. Isn’t that the whole point of ordering and comparing numbers?

Whilst engaging in the exercise, the students enjoyed working in groups, competing for a bargain against other groups, learning how to book airline tickets and simply use their imagination by pretending they were actually intending in going on the flight.

Isn’t that more interesting than a worksheet that has numbers on it to order?

This is why I am not at all surprised that British students leave Primary school ‘with the maths ability of 7-year-old’:

An analysis of last year’s SATs results has shown 27,500 11-year-olds are going on to secondary school with the numeracy skills of children four years their junior.

The figures equate to a staggering one in 20 of the total of those leaving primary school. Boys perform worse than girls, with 15,600 behind in their ability.

Separate statistics published two weeks ago also revealed that one in three GCSE pupils fail to get at least a grade C in maths.

The disclosure follows the launch of a Daily Telegraph campaign – Make Britain Count – to highlight the scale of the nation’s mathematical crisis and provide parents with tools to boost their children’s numeracy skills.

It comes amid concerns that schoolchildren are less likely to study maths to a high standard in England, Wales and Northern Ireland than in most other developed nations.

I appeal to Primary teachers to give the text-book a rest and don’t be afraid to try new and exciting ideas to engage your maths students.

Do Girls Perform Better in Single-Sex Classrooms?

October 17, 2011

I am glad that I teach both boys and girls in my Grade 5 classroom.  I find it more challenging and the social dynamic can be quite fascinating.  However, for a while now, there has been a groundswell of support for single-sex classrooms.  People believe that they are more beneficial for students.

GIRLS can be “marginalised” and often take a back seat to boys in co-educational classrooms, the head of one of WA’s most elite all-girl schools says.

Methodist Ladies’ College principal Rebecca Cody has reignited the single-sex school debate, saying the “female voice is more likely to be marginalised” in mixed-sex classrooms.

Her comments come amid calls for the state’s public students to be given the choice of single-sex education.

All WA public schools are co-ed.

Writing for the next edition of Whichschool? Magazine Ms Cody said there were many “positive academic, attitudinal and social effects of a single-sex education.

“For example, higher levels of engagement, improved achievement and behaviour are just a few of the notable outcomes.

“Similarly, in this context girls are more likely to excel in non-traditional disciplines such as science, technology and mathematics and without the presence of boys feel more empowered to take responsible risks, for example in outdoor education.

“In a mixed-classroom environment, the female voice is more likely to be marginalised as girls tend to take a back seat, allowing boys to speak up. A girls’ school allows students to relax and interact more readily.”

It has not been my experienced that the boys marginalise the girls in a mixed-classroom.  I do however think it is vital for teachers of such schools to do their utmost to ensure that the social dynamic in their classroom is healthy and that all students have the opportunity to express themselves as individuals.

Girls Performing Much Better in the Classroom

May 1, 2011

It is no surprise that girls are out doing boys in the classroom.  This has been the trend for quite some time.  But it should focus our energies on how we can teach boys in a more effective manner.

Girls are teaching their male classmates a lesson, blitzing them in almost every subject in Victoria’s classrooms.

Details of NAPLAN tests conducted last May also show Melbourne students narrowly outscore their country cousins, while those with highly educated or professional parents get the best marks.

Girls scored better than boys in 19 of the 20 categories measured in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9.

Nationwide, boys fell behind in almost all categories. Overall, Victoria’s students placed second in half the categories and lead the nation in three.

Year 9 boys were cause for the most worry – 15 per cent failed to meet the writing standard. However, their struggles matched those across Australia, meaning Victoria was still the best in the subject.

There are matters I would like to raise on this topic:

1.  We must do more to engage our boys.  Whether it’s a lack of male teachers or a teaching style that doesn’t work as well with boys, we must get to the heart of the problem and help mend the disparity.

2.  It is absolutely mind-boggling that in todays age we do not have more women in high positions and on multi-national company boards.  It is insane that we even need to talk about employing a quota system to get more female C.E.O’s.  Whilst it isn’t always the choice of women to sacrifice other aspects of their lives for a time-consuming and stressful career, there are many who are keen to get as far as they can go up the corporate ladder.  The argument that positions should be filled by those who are most qualified and capable is true.  However, that should result in females overtaking males in these leadership positions, because they are proving how much better they are in critical areas of learning and thinking.  Unfortunately, I suspect competency has nothing to do with it.

The Perfect Example of Courage and Self-Respect

April 12, 2011

The following is a clip I watched today that literally blew me away.  It is of a Pakistani actress by the name of Veena Malik, who in the face of harsh criticism by cleric, Mufti Abdul Qavi, stands up for herself in a profoundly courageous and inspirational way.  I don’t want to comment on the substance of their heated conversation (I’ll leave that to others).  Instead, I want to focus on the courage, integrity and strength of character displayed by Ms. Malik.

This is not something I can show in the classroom because of cultural sensitivities, but I strongly urge parents to watch this video.  The message that this clip sends to young girls in particular is potentially very powerful.  Here is a woman who refuses to be degraded, dictated to and walked over.  That is exactly the message we should be sending to our youth – be honest, courageous, proud and compassionate, and never let others manipulate, bully or belittle you.

Again I want to stipulate that I am not commenting on the substance of the disagreement between Ms. Malik and the cleric because that is not the purpose of this blog.  This blog is about education, and I can think of no better education for a young impressionable child than to see a model of self-respect, courage and integrity first hand.

Thank you Ms. Malik for standing up not only for yourself but for all people who feel downtrodden and unappreciated!

Girls and Maths

November 15, 2010

At a time when so much time and effort is exerted into getting better academic results from the boys, I wonder if we’re doing enough, if anything at all, to make maths more appealing to girls.

A study to be presented at an education conference in Melbourne this month shows girls performing poorly compared with boys in areas of high achievement and enrolment trends in year 12 maths subjects.

Its findings show a clear pattern of male dominance among the Victorian students who achieved the top 2 per cent of the study score results in each of the maths subjects between 2007 and 2009. //

Boys were heavily over-represented among the top scorers, relative to their enrolment proportions in each maths subject.

Sure, boys may be wired to excel in maths, but should that stop us from rethinking the way we teach it to girls?

I love teaching maths.  As a Grade 4 teacher, I teach all general subjects, yet maths is my favourite.  I find that there is so much scope for teaching the subject in a creative fashion rather than rote memory skills and algorithms, which can be boring and off-putting to many.  In class we become top-secret spies, prisoners, fashion designers and architects.  Sometimes the class don’t even realise it’s a maths lesson!

A creative approach to maths, especially in the early years, is just the tonic to make the subject more exciting and accessible – especially to girls.

%d bloggers like this: