Tuesday, January 8, 2013

How to Teach Boys

It's no surprise to anyone paying attention to educational trends that society has shifted from girls and women being excluded from schooling to boys and men excluding themselves from school.  As schools struggle to close achievement gaps, the largest gaps are not actually racial but gender-based.  In fact, the data in many schools reveals low achievement among Latino students when the latinas are actually doing well, but the boys' achievement has practically bottomed out.  Girls simply seem to be getting it, while boys seem to be giving up.  No longer do we have a society where girls are ignored in math and science classes and shuffled toward teacher colleges - instead, young women account for a majority of students applying to colleges.  And from an economic sense, this disparity will only get worse as jobs for uneducated laborers continue to decline.

Motivational speaker and consultant Kelly King offers insight and analysis on How to Create a Boy Friendly School published in EdWeek.  There are plenty of excuses and explanations for why boys are struggling, including the design of school which is not boy oriented.  Regardless, the boys are there in need of education, struggling with motivation and literacy, and in need of help.  Boys can be engaged in learning, King writes, because it is their energy and enthusiasm that we love which also is the source of their struggles.  Certainly, boys can be more physical and require more tangible tasks.  Thus, it is the challenge of the teacher to address those needs and teach to those strengths.  That said, however, schools must not fall prey to dumbing down expectations or ignoring those skills that are required by an increasingly complex world.

In working with adolescent boys and seeking to develop lessons and curriculum that will engage them, there are numerous works which offer models of success.  Some of my favorites are:

Why Gender Matters - Dr. Leonard Sax

Reading Don Fix No Chevys - Jeffery Wilhelm and Michael Smith

Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men  - Sax

Going with the Flow - Wilhelm and Smith

I Read It But I Don't Get It - Cris Tovani

Raising Boys - Stephen Biddulph

Raising Cain - Dan Kindlon


Unknown said...

Hi mmazenko,
Kelley King here. Thanks for drawing awareness to the needs of boys - especially within our school system. Every day, week and year that goes by, we lose more boys. And we lose them needlessly! Understanding the ways boys learn, what motivates them, and looking at all aspects of schooling from the perspective of boys can be transformational in and of itself. Thanks for your work!

mmazenko said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mmazenko said...

Thanks, Kelly.

This is a profoundly significant issue that often gets lost amidst talk of education policy and reform. Of course, I don't have to tell you that. Thanks for your work in this area, and for checking in at A-T-V.