Helping boys succeed in school is as simple as getting them to stop thinking that school is a waste of time and that liking books or reading is for sissies. I guess the problem is not as easy to solve as we might think.
For centuries, boys overachieved in educational settings, fighting for positions and honors that no girl had ever held. Then came equal rights, and all of a sudden girls began to perform as well, and soon, better than them in large numbers.
When a girl considers what she has to do in order to “be somebody” she has to face the harsh reality that her gender poses a problem in many of the money-making professions of our day. She knows that she will have to work to prove her worth over a man, so she begins to overachieve at a young age.
For boys, they often think that they will get what they want just because they want it. Though this has been true in the past, it does not seem to be true for them in our education systems. The achievement gap between boys and girls is ever-widening and not in favor of the boy. Helping them succeed in school is a crucial consideration when the statistics for their failure are so severe.
So why do boys seem to have more problems in school than girls?
There is no definitive answer to this question, but there are some interesting explanations. The simplest answer involves the genetic make up of a boy versus a girl. Girls’ brains tend to be more word-oriented while boys’ brains are more spatially-oriented. So much of the education system as a whole has been changed to a word-based program, even mathematics. Girls are able to process word problems and figure out the math, while a boy might be able to do the math problem if given to him in numbers, but cannot process the words to find the math problem.
Simply put, boys and girls learn differently, but the current system is tailored to a girl’s learning style and future teachers are not learning how to accommodate boys.
The need for teachers to be trained in how to accommodate for boys comes from the fact that a high percentage of teachers are female, especially in the middle school grades. The boys are being taught for most of their education life by women who are doing an excellent job, but cannot relate to them on a level that a male teacher can. The solution is not to hire all-male teachers, but it is important that men start advocating for boys by emphasizing the importance of education and not dismissing the profession of teaching as a woman’s job. Middle school boys need positive male role models who will encourage and challenge them to succeed in the classroom.
For parents of boys, especially middle school, you must be aware of this trend. When your child comes home saying things like, “School is dumb,” Or “I hate reading,” find a positive way to redirect this behavior. The spoken word has the power to influence our minds. What we say is true often becomes true for us.
Do not allow your son to give up on schoolwork simply because he is not like everyone else or not smart. Emphasize the importance of education in your home and get his father involved in his schoolwork. If you are a single mother or caretaker, find a positive male role model for your son to spend time with. It may be a good idea to find a successful high school student to tutor or mentor your son if you know he is struggling.
As a parent, you must engage your student’s teacher and find out exactly what they are learning and how. Listen to the teacher’s approach to different struggles, and if your son is struggling in a certain subject or area, ask how you can partner with them to make him successful. With the standards of education being what they are, a teacher wants your son to succeed just as much as you do. Teachers are an invaluable tool to the success of your child and will do whatever it takes to help him, especially if they know they have help at home.
There is no definitive answer as to why boys have fallen so far behind and society has allowed it to happen, but it is unacceptable at best and tragic at worst. We must take steps to change the trend or else entire generations of boys will suffer the rest of their lives because of a low standard set for them in their developmental years.
Gender-Equity Issues in Elementary Education – A guide for elementary education
Analyzing the Single Gender Classroom
Pros and Cons of Single Sex Classes in K-12 Education