In previous articles and blogs, I have addressed the issue of effectively educating boys. But the topic is so important that it bears repeating. Would single sex classes benefit boys as well as girls? Why are the majority of valedictorians girls? Why does a gender gap exist in colleges, with more women than men enrolling in and graduating?
In 1972 Title IX Education Amendment prohibited discrimination due to gender. That was certainly critically important for girls. Unfortunately, an unanticipated result may have left boys in the dust, educationally speaking. The education pendulum began to swing away from boys. Well-meaning educators determined to focus on giving girls equal treatment in classrooms and in sports failed to recognize that boys and girls learn differently. Biological differences include motor and brain development, so those differences should affect educational methodology.
Dr. Larry Summers, former Harvard University president, was excoriated when he dared to declare that women were not as adept in math and science as men. Perhaps his message was politically incorrect; however, like most stereotypes, it contained some truth. Instead of denying differences, educators should address them. According to Peg Tyre, author of The Trouble with Boys, “Our expectations for our children have been ramped up but the psychological and physical development of our children has remained about the same. Some kids are thriving in the changing world. But many aren’t. What parents and teachers see—and what this government study now shows—is that the ones who can’t handle it are disproportionately boys. “
From an early age, boys are more active than girls. They like to manipulate objects and move. Their fine motor skills develop later than those of girls. They need unstructured play. So placing them in female-centered classrooms from kindergarten can have a detrimental effect on their attitude and ability. They should be able to move around if needed, stand if they desire, and have activity periods that will help them to focus.
Some educational options include separating the classes by gender, incorporating more physical activity in classroom activities, and using developmental milestones instead of age to group children into grades. Educators and administrators need to be sensitive to the needs of boys if they are to thrive educationally.