It bothers me when, as a result of girls outperforming boys on standardised tests, the assumption is made that girls are better equipped to succeed as they are inherently more academic.
Perhaps that assumption is true, but has it been thoroughly tested? What, if anything, has been done to change the way boys are being taught?
Dr. Kevin Donnelly, one of the sharpest minds in education policy and analysis is right to raise a few challenges which have, in his view, prevented boys from having an equal chance to shine in the classroom:
As to why our education system discriminates in favour of girls the reasons aren’t hard to find. As argued by the American author Michael Gurian “male and female brains learn differently” with girls maturing before boys in terms of academic ability, being able to socialise and interact with others and being more articulate expressing emotions.
When it comes to teaching primary school children how to read the most popular approach, called whole language where readers are told to look and guess, favours girls.
Boys need a highly structured, systematic model of reading based on phonics and phonemic awareness where they learn the relationship between letters and sounds and combinations of letters and sounds – the very approach no longer taught.
Since the late ’60s and early ’70s, mainly due to the rise of feminism and the fact that there are so few male primary school teachers, the way teachers teach and the way classrooms are structured have been feminised.
Teachers no longer stand at the front of the room and children are expected to direct their own learning in open, mixed ability classrooms. As a result, boys are easily distracted, become behavioural problems and soon fall behind.
The fact that a lot of learning adopts an open-ended, inquiry approach where teachers become guides by the side and facilitate instead of directing what should happen also works against boys’ preferred learning styles.
Boys need clear direction, explicit goals, timely feedback and an orderly classroom environment where they know what they have to do and what constitutes pass and fail.
Boys also need to be taught to respect authority and to have teachers prepared to enforce a disciplined environment where there are consequences for misbehaviour.
While there is no doubt that many women are still discriminated against and that significant issues like domestic violence must be addressed, it’s also true that making education more girl friendly shouldn’t mean that boys lose out.
Click on the link to read Are Kindergarten Teachers Biased Against Boys?
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