Over 40 years ago there was a great deal of buzz in education about the gender disparity that favored boys. However, now the tables have turned and our schools seem to be significantly better for our daughters. It really is quite a dramatic change in such a short time. As a parent of two sons (and one daughter), I’m quite concerned.
The statistics are sobering.
- Two thirds of D’s and F’s are given to boys.
- The average 11th grade boy has a writing level of an average 8th grade girl.
- Two thirds of special education students in high school are boys.
- 60% of college campuses are female right now and the disparity gets larger each year.
- Suspensions, expulsions and drop out rates are much higher for boys than girls.
So, what has changed? How come girls are doing so much better than boys?
First of all, our society as a whole has become much more verbal. Our schools have too. There is a lot more listening and talking required today. Most of us realize that girls are better at this than boys. This benefits girls in the classroom, in college and in the workplace, while for many males it can be a struggle.
And, the struggle begins as early as kindergarten. We have higher academic expectations for younger children than ever before. Girls are often ready for the academics, while boys aren’t. Boys tend to develop these skills later. So now a kindergarten boy senses very early on that school isn’t for him and that feeling gets worse as school goes on. Their path is often bumpy right from the start, unlike girls.
Boys tend to be more active. More competitive. They thrive with a hands on learning style. Do we see much of this stuff in our classrooms today?? Nope, especially because class sizes are large. The combination of less of these sort of activities and a more verbal emphasis in schools is a pretty wicked combination for many of our sons.
This isn’t an issue for just our country. Many other western nations, such as the UK, are struggling with it as well. We need to address it soon before more boys are left behind. It is certainly possible to cater to the strengths of both genders in our classrooms. Change is needed soon, very soon.