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What About the Boys?

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The so-called "Boy Crisis" has arrived. As the public outcry over boys' academic decline in relation to girls' success has grown louder, people are trying to explain this trend—and many, it seems, are blaming girls.

In this Education Week Commentary, Lyn Mikel Brown, Meda Chesney-Lind, and Nan Stein caution against a zero-sum mentality. They claim that, contrary to prevailing assumptions in the popular debate, boys are not struggling because girls are excelling, nor are boys suffering more now from the traditional teacher-gender gap than they were before the crisis. Instead, they posit, the real reasons for the gender achievement gap include poverty, racism, and the societal stigma that studying is only for geeks—and girls.

What do you think? Do current educational trends cater to girls, and neglect boys? Or are boys' academic problems rooted in broader social messages about masculinity? Do boys think that doing well in school is for girls?

58 Comments

I just completed my student teaching requirement at a highly-rated, well-regarded Houston high school. I analyzed my 10th grade students' grades and found the girls outperforming the boys by at least five points. When I would discuss education matters and importance with my lowest-performing male students, most would respond with amusement (no one seriously expected them to study or read anything) and/or disdain (they already knew everything they needed to know). In every case, the male student was from a background of low-income and an ethnic minority family.

I have found this trend to be true in all three schools in which I have taught. The males are generally interested in girls, sex, money, drinking, drugs, cars, etc. Even those males not from the all encompassing 'poverty' categories, are not very interested in academic at all and resent anyone and most attempts that push or try encourage them to excel academically. They think school is a joke, and generally don't respect women, especially female teachers. I never knew how badly the public system of education was performing until I tried to enter the profession. If the corporations in America were being run like this, most would have gone bankrupt by now. Now I understand why corporations are now going overseas to get employees. Most of the students in the public schools don't really want to learn and have little or no concern about the world until it really pinches them. There is so much hostility in schools against Arabs, Hispanics, African-Americans, women, etc., that few males are studying, but many are bullying and expressing seething racism. God help the American Public Educatinal System. One of the biggest most expensive underperforming jokes around. What happened?

Although every student is an individual -- some work hard, some love a challenge, some just want to get by -- the trend I've seen is that girls are willing to work harder and desire to excel. One of my yearly duties is to recommend students for placement in the high school honors English class. This year, I asked three, high-performing, conscientious boys if they were interested and all three said, "Nah, too much work." I've never had a girl turn down the recommendation. Similarly, I attended a banquet for a local scholarship ($4500 for each of 4 years). Of the 78 scholarships awarded, only 23 went to boys. I wonder, was the 5 page application with multiple essays too much work? Give the girls 15 - 20 years and there will be a huge shift in the CEO world. Being a female, I'm ok with that.

The fact that anonymous responder from 6/7 is OK with this situation because she is female speaks volumes for why education and young boys are in the plight that they are currently in. This is also a reason why "anon responder" should get out of education before she causes any more damage to her male students. Check the stats on the decline of male teachers over the past 20 years in the primary and intermediate grades and think about how important strong, positive role models are.

My 15-yr-old son struggles daily with tasks assigned in school. He has terrible handwriting and doesn't spell well, so when teachers take off points for misspelled words on tests, his grade suffers, even when his answers are correct. In almost all of his core classes projects are assigned which have been heavily graded on the ART work involved--this also causes his grades to suffer, as the handwriting issues show up again. He is in the gifted program and works hard to make the grades he does. I resent the teachers who don't give students choices when assigning projects and who don't warn students about spelling before grading papers. There are many skills that girls seem to have--neat handwriting, an ability to move step-by-step through instructions and thought processes--that many boys seem to struggle with. My son sees the "big picture" and misses the details. You could say that he sees the forest but not the trees. Surely teachers can figure out ways to help kids like him (a typical boy) be more successful in academic tasks.

I find it interesting that in a driving class of 17-18 year old urban students, there is full attention and seriousness of purpose. The term academic does not enter the picture here, although many of these students will use self-discipline and study skills, and will apply themselves to pass this very important class. Behavior is not an issue for the instructor. The schools fail to reach the hearts and minds of young people when their whole purpose is wrapped in 'academics;' and when there are so many of examples of success in people they can look up to who have used their minds, talents, and personal resources to build a life for themselves, or helping others to do the same. When will educators learn that 'academics' is a definition of education that has quantified--and therefore dehumanized the culture of learning--to the point where all we do is compare, for example, how native Amereican kids do against black kids. Example: If an academic approach to learning a foreign language is the model of instruction used in our schools, how is it that almost all the students who are required to take these courses to go to college come away after two or three years still unable to speak the language they have supposedly 'learned?'
When we make our learning culture exciting and engaging, instead of alienating and exclusive, we will reach kids where they are. Maybe then they will gain the sense of self they will need to see that life is filled with promise and purpose.

When I first taught, I thought that I was being very equal in my expectations of boys and girls in my high school math classroom, until my supervisor completed an evaluation on which gender I called on most often. It was the boys, two to one, that I called on most often. Now I find in my classroom that it has equaled some, due to my effort. However last year I had two classes in which the gender ratio was very unbalanced. In the morning I had a class of 90% female, 10% male and in the afternoon the same subject was just the opposite, 90% male and 10% female. Both classes were very productive and it was a bit easier for me to set higher expectations. Just something to ponder.

While I agree with Mr. Collier that strong, positive, male, role-models are necessary, there needs to be an emphasis on the word POSITIVE. Too many male teachers perpetuate sterotypes by allowing those behaviors to run unchecked in their classes. I see this every day at my school!
I'm also willing to hazard a guess that many men don't opt for a career in teaching because it's a lot of work for little pay and is predominantly known as a female profession. Why is it known as a female profession? Because historically it has been seen as little more than glorified babysitting. You cannot deny the patriarchal influences in/on the system. Are you saying that women should not grow up to be CEOs? Is it not ok to be happy that women will at some point achieve equality in the workforce, while at the same time hoping to educate smart, sensitive, young men who support equal rights?

I recall the old joke--for a woman to be considered equal to a man, she must work twice as hard--fortunately this is not difficult.

As a female who was told in high school that my standardized test scores in math were very good--for a girl, I gotta wonder if we are looking at a new phenomenon or if, with a more level playing field, we are just seeing what has always been. K-12 education has been overwhelmingly female for a long time. As girls have reasonable aspirations of entering fields that were once only open to males, they can be expected take, and take seriously, the kind of curriculum that they were once discouraged from.

My very good for a girl abilities gained me entree to some advanced math classes in high school--where there were increasingly more males than females--though there were always a few of us who just liked the challenge.

I can see that my daughter has always had an easier time in school than my son--she has better social skills, better organization, somewhat better handwriting. But I don't know that this is a new phenomenon. I had an easier time than my brothers. However once we graduated, their pay-scale was immediately much higher than mine, and has pretty much remained so.

Guys have never had to try as hard. That doesn't mean we don't have to work to reach ALL the kids--but lets not brand this as some new kind of discrimination.

This is a many-tentacled question with no single answer. At my largely low-income, non-white-majority middle school in Northern Virginia we consistently see poorer performance from boys. Our Principal's Honor Roll for straight "A" students had 21 students - only 1 was male. Our highest level math class, Geometry, has 15 students and only 3 are boys. Boys between the ages of 11 and 14 seem more interested in the socialization opportunities that school provides than actually learning/aiming for their future. It has become uncool to turn in homework or receive good grades. While teachers struggle with our growing cultural fact that many children come from single parent families or from families where parents work more than one full-time job and where little time is devoted to the importance of education (we are all tired at the end of the day), our society has not done a good job of showing our youth what success or the path to it looks like. We need to show our kids what their life will be like in the future m if they choose specific paths in learning. LEARNING NEEDS TO BE RELEVANT. When a student asks "Why do I need to know this?" the question should be answered emphatically and immediately -even if it takes up valuable class time. Teachers are being asked to teach, more than ever, about how learning relates to life. We need to be prepared to answer. It all boils down to RESPECT. If we can teach our children to respect themselves and to have respect for others, perhaps they will have enough respect to consider their tomorrows today.

I teach in the city of Detroit in a school which changed to gender-segregated classes in November. The student body is 100% African American, with a 65% African American staff. I'm a white female teaching on the boys' team.

Since introducing this change, our boys' GPA has leapt from a 1.7 to a 3.0; the number of behavior referrals has been reduced by nearly half. The girls have had similar but smaller gains (they had a higher GPA to start with), although they initially had an increase in referrals and decrease in GPA; they were trying to sabotage the change and thought this was the way to do it (they actually asked how bad they'd have to behave before we gave up on the "stupid" idea).

Incidentally, the girls continue to receive more behavior referrals than the boys; once students were separated by gender, it became obvious that the girls are much rowdier than the boys. It has even made us wonder if the boys may have been falsely blamed for problems before the change.

I regularly post charts showing the improvement, and the boys huddle around and brag about how smart they've gotten and how few referrals are being earned. They actually brag when their homeroom is in the lead!

As an elementary special education teacher, I do not see inequality between the sexes; however, in observing regular ed teachers, boys are usually called upon to respond to more theoretical questions than are girls. For every one time a girl has been called on to respond, three boys have been answered before. The fact is that boys really do not "need" to study as hard or as much as girls do because of the pervasive patriarcial society we live in today. Boys already are favored by default. It would be nice to think that in 15-20 years females will dominate corporate America, but I doubt this will happen as long as these girls will grow up to be women who will probably marry and have children. Somehow, then the burden of caring for a home and children still fall into traditional lines.
The prliferation of violent video games has had a profound effect on the way boys view women. Take a good look at some of the most popular ones--Grand Theft Auto--where it is "fun" to blow a pregnant woman to smithereens. The few men who enter the teaching field do so because they are nurturing people--and few men are that nurturing. With a national statistic that 1 in 4 American citizens is a victim/surivivor of childhood sexual abuse; with Internet child pornography the fastest growing industry in the US; and with at least 1 in 3 women stating that some point in their lives they experience domestic violence at the hands of a spouse or boyfriend, we should not wonder why boys think education is a "joke."
They will "win" the game anyway.
Solutions anyone?

For decades females were overlooked, not encouraged to excel in math, technology, or science. It was easy to overlook their leadership skills because they tended to be quieter, less boisterous, more studious, and more cooperative. Once the focus shifted to the girls, they flourished and they have begun to outshine their male peers. Anytime you are working with statistics and one group excels, other groups will pale in comparison. One of my degrees is in political science, and one of the valuable lessons I learned in that study is that statistics can and will say and show whatever you need them to. I’m not saying there is no crisis in education; I’m just saying it isn’t new. It has been around for a long time, but it no one has bothered to notice, because the boys were setting the standards and doing better than the girls, therefore they must be doing okay. My question would be not are boys doing worse than girls, but rather are boys doing worse than they used to do? Or is it just that the girls have raised the bar and the boys are not rising to the challenge? Be that as it may, there are important issues in education that need to be addressed. One is attracting qualified teachers to the profession. I don’t necessarily agree that we specifically need more male teachers so they can provide positive role models for the boys, I have a lot of “sons” and “daughters” who say that I have “inspired and empowered them” to continue their educations and succeed is spite of their situations at home and the pressures from their peers. The need is for more quality teachers of either gender. Unfortunately, society has always considered teaching a second class job for people “with a calling” or people “who can’t do” something else. Why should men or women be attracted to a profession where they get little respect from children, parents, or society in general? When society measures the quality of life by the house you own, the car you drive, and the clothes you wear, teaching is not that attractive of a career option. I see a lot of young teachers struggling to support their families by working two or three part time jobs in addition to working as a full time teacher. I’ve seen really good young teachers leave the profession because they simply can’t afford to stay in it. My father always said “teaching makes a great second income but as a primary income it leaves something to be desired.” Overworked and tired teachers can hardly be expected to successfully combat all of the obstacles that stand between their students and success. If society were to give teachers their due, if parents taught their children to respect their teachers because they are teachers, if taxpayers and lawmakers gave the schools the resources they need, you wouldn’t see gender issues, poverty issues, environmental issues, or any other issues that plague education. Good teachers differentiate instruction with the goal of helping every child succeed. But good teachers are being lured away from the profession because they can be paid more, have less stress, more free time, less paperwork, less conflict, and a generally easier time of it, working some place else at jobs that are less important. If you can't get the right people in the job, you aren't going to solve any of the problems education faces. Including how to get the boys to succeed in the classroom.

Amen to the above!

The article and resulting comments so far do point to a problem that is not acceptable either in our classrooms or society. I recently read For Every Hundred Girls... from Post Secondary OPPORTUNITY and the statistics are appalling and substantiate that a serious problem does exist and is getting worse. For every 100 girls in prison ages 18 to 21 there are 1430 men. For every 100 females ages 20 to 24 that kill themselves 624 males do. For every 100 women ages 25 to 29 years who have a doctorate degree 75 men do. I believe women will gain top jobs as CEOs in the future, one only has to look at the statistics to see the numbers will win out. We will see a woman president in our lifetime and many of us will applaud this when it happens because we believe that it will change the direction of our country. We have to understand that this situation has come to be what it is under the leadership of men.

I am all for the glass ceiling being broken however, can we afford to do this on the backs of our boys and men? Attitudes toward learning must change. The "geeks and girls being the only ones to be smart" attitude has to change. Education which is usually just a reflection of society may have to take the lead here. We realize that there are differences in learning styles between boys and girls. Teachers should reflect this within their instructional practices and administrators, school boards, legislators, and most importantly parents should support teachers in this effort. We need to take this problem seriously and put our heads together with whomever we can to turn this situation around

This controversy has finally surfaced in Maine with the publication of a five part series in the Portland Press Herald based on the release of a Gender Equity Task Force preliminary report. The series was accompanied by a blog that elicited many comments from parents, teachers, and classroom/school performance observers.

The blog & articles are found at http://pressherald.mainetoday.com/specialrpts/boys/rc.shtml.

I have been 'mining' them and concluded that there is enough evidence of harm to boys from school hiring, promotion, and teaching practices that a lawsuit to force schools to have a faculty that mirrors the gender composition of the student body is inevitable.

The comments of female teachers about boys are most prejudicial; and only reinforce sterotypes.

Such a lawsuit would probably have the same impact on public schools as BROWN vs. BOARD OF EDUCATION had on desegregating them.

Other remedial/reform solutions include:

o Gender based classrooms, or even all boys/all girls schools...which in themselves violate the intent of civil rights legislation but are finding their way into some public schools and charter schools as long as no one sues.

o Team teaching, with a male and female teacher, esp. at the middle school grades.

o Rotating leadership, so that the school is no longer viewed by boys as 'run by women'.

o Ending gender equity programs run by women or turning them over to men in schools where the performance of boys is lagging.

o Review by men who are educators and are the parents of boys of the teaching practices of female teachers to eliminate prejudice, i.e. in class assignments, class participation & grading based on participation, readings, etc.

I've observed that boys who flounder in public schools seem to leap ahead when enrolled in boys-only private(including charter) schools, to the delight of their parents and the consternation of public school educators.

Unfortunately, this improvement may well prove the point that they are discriminated against in public schools.

There is ample evidence that boys with single, working, lower SEIS mothers may be most susceptible to street and youth cultures, i.e. sex, drugs, music, gaming, cars, etc. But then this in not a new phenom. in education and IMHO should not be treated as one.

Boys rule when it comes to computer and information technologies; and those with the motivation and aptitude quietly slip out of high school as early admits. or enter the infotech workforce. Gender splits on science and math on advanced tests reveal this.

Given the fourth grade performance of girls vs. a vi. boys in Math, this could change in 7 years.

I found the comments from the middle school science teacher in Detroit about establishing gender-segregated classes quite interesting. I recently read Dr. Leonard Sax's book "Why gender matters: What parents and teachers need to know about the emerging science of sex differences" which addresses this issue. Dr. Sax states taht there are many physiological differences between males and females, including how the brain works when learning. Gender-specific classes can gear teaching in the manner that best reaches whichever sex is being taught. While researching the topic of single-sex education for a graduate class, I found that most reports stated the same thing as the science teacher from Detroit. Boys do learn better in single-sex education. I wonder though if one of the reasons is the lack of self-discipline in so many young people today? Teachers really have not changed the way they teach to boys and girls throughout the years and boys used to be more successful than they are today. Is it perhaps that boys used to just simply do what needed to be done even though teaching was not specifically geared to the way that they learn best? The lack of self-discipline in students leads to lower grades in both males and females. I still believe much of it comes from the home. If parents do not help to instill self-discipline within the home, it will continue to be difficult for teachers to develop this characteristic at school.

When are we going to wake up to the fact that our educational system consists of more than SCHOOLS? Families educate. Churches, synagogues, and mosques educate--often with strong differentiations between male and female significance & power. Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts educate--also quite differently from each other, despite their common beginnnings. The Y, 4H, Girls & Boys Clubs, Campfire, etc. educate. What children learn from these diverse educators about what it means in various cultural contexts to be a "girl" or a "boy" plays heavily into the problematic dynamics all these discussants have narrated so poignantly. Universities also figure in this educational network that constructs gendered self-concepts. Does the university that prepares the teachers in your area have both male and female science and engineering professors? Does it have a woman president? How many women on its board of regents or trustees are there? Where did the "affirmative action" in women's behalf happen at that university? In its English department and college of education perhaps? And what about family law in your state? How does it deal with divorce, custody, and child support? Who is financing children? Who is raising them? How many of those men in prison have children? Who is supporting and raising those children? Solutions to this very serious school problem will be shallow if they come out of a view that overlooks this big picture and just blames teachers for everything, once again. When will we ever learn that blaming teachers will fix nothing? When will we learn to think of education from the standpoint of the worlds within which children live and learn? Maybe then we will be able to address some of these most stubborn, harmful problems.

When are we going to wake up to the fact that our educational system consists of more than SCHOOLS? Families educate. Churches, synagogues, and mosques educate--often with strong differentiations between male and female significance & power. Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts educate--also quite differently from each other, despite their common beginnnings. The Y, 4H, Girls & Boys Clubs, Campfire, etc. educate. What children learn from these diverse educators about what it means in various cultural contexts to be a "girl" or a "boy" plays heavily into the problematic dynamics all these discussants have narrated so poignantly. Universities also figure in this educational network that constructs gendered self-concepts. Does the university that prepares the teachers in your area have both male and female science and engineering professors? Does it have a woman president? How many women on its board of regents or trustees are there? Where did the "affirmative action" in women's behalf happen at that university? In its English department and college of education perhaps? And what about family law in your state? How does it deal with divorce, custody, and child support? Who is financing children? Who is raising them? How many of those men in prison have children? Who is supporting and raising those children? Solutions to this very serious school problem will be shallow if they come out of a view that overlooks this big picture and just blames teachers for everything, once again. When will we ever learn that blaming teachers will fix nothing? When will we learn to think of education from the standpoint of the worlds within which children live and learn? Maybe then we will be able to address some of these most stubborn, harmful problems.

When are we going to wake up to the fact that our educational system consists of more than SCHOOLS? Families educate. Churches, synagogues, and mosques educate--often with strong differentiations between male and female significance & power. Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts educate--also quite differently from each other, despite their common beginnnings. The Y, 4H, Girls & Boys Clubs, Campfire, etc. educate. What children learn from these diverse educators about what it means in various cultural contexts to be a "girl" or a "boy" plays heavily into the problematic dynamics all these discussants have narrated so poignantly. Universities also figure in this educational network that constructs gendered self-concepts. Does the university that prepares the teachers in your area have both male and female science and engineering professors? Does it have a woman president? How many women on its board of regents or trustees are there? Where did the "affirmative action" in women's behalf happen at that university? In its English department and college of education perhaps? And what about family law in your state? How does it deal with divorce, custody, and child support? Who is financing children? Who is raising them? How many of those men in prison have children? Who is supporting and raising those children? Solutions to this very serious school problem will be shallow if they come out of a view that overlooks this big picture and just blames teachers for everything, once again. When will we ever learn that blaming teachers will fix nothing? When will we learn to think of education from the standpoint of the worlds within which children live and learn? Maybe then we will be able to address some of these most stubborn, harmful problems.

FJH states:"there is enough evidence of harm to boys from school hiring, promotion, and teaching practices that a lawsuit to force schools to have a faculty that mirrors the gender composition of the student body is inevitable."

I wonder if this means that women will achieve parity in leadership positions (principal, asst principal, superintendent)? Are we willing to do what it takes (most likely pay increases) to attract men into the teaching field--especially at the elementary level?

The current state of hiring is not the result of discrimination against men, rather it is the default from many years in which teaching was one of the very few professions open to women--and the pay scale has always reflected this.

Response from Anonymous No. Two: Take care to check your spelling. After all, we're educators!

There is a very interesting article in the 30 January 2006 issue of Newsweek Magazine. Parents and educators would do well to refer to this article.

Allow me to add one possible source of the problem as I have seen it: In my experience, girls are favored over boys in the classroom setting. I consistently hear it from boys that "...our teacher likes the girls better than the boys."

Girls are generally more interested in school, and their interests tend more towards education-oriented hobbies, projects, and ativities outside of school.

Hence, a teacher's job becomes easier, and the success of the female student can be a reflection upon the teacher.

More men are needed in the field, which is predominantly liberal females and monorities, and who will never address the real difficulties here.

Again, there is no 'black or white answer because all situations are either slightly, or radically different, but different nevertheless.

Look up the article and read on

Sorry - Minorities, (and I commented on spelling)?

"More men are needed in the field, which is predominantly liberal females and minorities, and who will never address the real difficulties here."-GWM

I'm afraid I have to disagree with your statement. I'm female, but a conservative, and I'm not exactly sure what the race, gender, or political stance of the teacher has to do with anything regarding whether boys are fulfilling their potential or not.

While there may be more female teachers in the classroom, if you were to poll the public school systems you would find that there are more male administrators at school and district levels, more males on the school board, more males in the state congress, and more males in positions of authority in educational bodies where the policies are being made.

I'm still wondering if the boys are doing worse than they have done historically, or if they are doing the same, and status quo is no longer good enough.

If you want more men in the classroom you have to make the classrooms a viable choice for them. I have several degrees including Computer Engineering which I teach part time at a local community college, one of my male students told me, that growing up he'd always wanted to be a teacher, but now that he was an adult, there was no way he'd put up with all the "crap" he'd have to take from the students and the parents. He'd rather work with computers, they don't talk back, and he can make a good living without the headaches.

I've always taught in public schools, usually ones with high poverty rates and high minority percentages. You have to conquer more obstacles in that setting, but the non-material rewards are greater when your students succeed. I feel that I've done a good job of helping both my male and female students achieve.

If your goal in education is for every child to succeed, then you can't pigeonhole students... or teachers into neatly labeled categories and claim the problems won't be addressed because we don't have enough conservative males in the classroom. Get to the state legislature, demand that teachers get the compensation they deserve, that teachers get paid on a level that will compete with other employment opportunities, and you will get your conservative male teachers. Of course, once you have them, you still have to address the needs of each individual student regardless of gender, race, or creed, and challenge them to succeed using every tool and strategy at your disposal.

As you say, every situation is different. Every school is a microcosm of the community it is in. Every community has different demands and different solutions that will meet those needs.

"Those who can, teach, everyone else holds a job of less significance."

I find the article to be a bit short-sighted in its analysis of the "boy problem." I speak to audiences across the country relative to why boys are not succeeding in school. I do not beat up on female teachers or classmates in an attempt to rationalize away the "boy crisis." The "trouble with boys" seems to reside in the education strategies that we use to educate them.

If the National Pre-Kindergarten Study that came from Yale and the research done by the Gurian Institute are considered in our attempt to understand the issue, then two pertinent points emerge: 1) Even in Pre-K programs, boys are being excluded at a rate of 4 1/2 times that of girls, and 2) Teaching environments and strategies are not responsive to the learning styles and predilections of boys.

The Gurian Institute's research also makes the compelling argument that the boys in the US are not the only "boy population" for whom the system isn't working--boys in other countries are struggling as well.

In this ongoing discussion, it cannot be ignored that girls are wired for language from the onset and that boys are generally a year to a year and a half behind the girls in language skills when they enter traditional schools. Moreover, having taught in the public schools, I am aware that the "language-oriented" strategies that the preponderance of teachers employ favor the learning style of girls rather than boys. And oh yes, by the way, the majority of teachers in early childhood/early elementary are women who are masterful at language-oriented teaching. There is no blame being ascribed here; these are the facts.

Boys can learn language; different strategies are needed for most of them. Programs who are beginning to be more responsive to boys in their teaching strategies are realizing favorable outcomes.

A few years ago, we were concerned about creating learning environments and employing strategies that were responsive to learning styles of girls in order to enhance their learning experiences and leverage their contributions to fields of work that, historically, were male-dominated. Our attention must turn to the boy population if we are to reverse this problematic trend toward failure.

Doubtless, societal factors play a role relative to how boys perceive themselves and academic success. In some instances, cultural or sub-cultural influences color boys' perception of academic success; however, I have not encountered that as much as the influences of environment and strategies upon the outcomes for boys.

Those of us who are doing serious investigation and research in this area are not interested in engaging in the "blame game;" we are looking for solutions--short-term and long-term.

We need better teachers and better tools in our school systems. I have 2 boys ages 13 and 7. My husband and I both work. School is very important to us and both of my children are mechanically inclined. If I could have afforded it my kids would have been in private or home school. I know money is tight accross the board but getting a public education is making our children weaker and less prepared to deal with the world. Schools that have a high minority count do not have the resources or enough qualified teachers to reach these kids. When a teacher can not relate to a child they label them and dismiss them and move on (especially ones who are bored with the traditional classroom environment).
My 13 year old can do algebra problems in his head and reads on college level, my 7 year old can tell you the make and model of cars and engine stats. Both are computer techs by default...so why are they failing?
School is not a daycare and I do not expect my kids to be disrespectful or made to sit still without some type of mental stimulation. I am frustrated with all these new teachers who are not able to teach the basics and refuse to understand that they need to think out of the box to reach our kids...especially the boys.
I have sat in on my childrens classes to see the behavior problems the teachers claim to have with my kids. What I end up seeing is a class room full of disrespect and incompetance from the teacher on down. Teachers are more worried about the children moving around or fidgeting than they are on getting the lesson accross. These children are now labeled ADHD when the real problem is that they are bored! Labeling a child as a trouble maker because you do not know how to teach him the way that you were taught shows me that the American public school system needs to come to grips with the fact that they are failing our students.
I actually had a teacher tell me that she failed my son on a test because she knew he cheated when he was unable to explain how he got the correct answer. I have had teachers bawl up my sons papers in front of him and toss them in the trash because she felt he did not write it neat enough. With those types of leaders at the helm, no wonder the boys have given up.
When you have 35 plus rowdy students in one class that can play advanced video and computer games and have enough depth and skill to reach higher levels of a game after 10 minutes of play how can we expect them to sit and look at chalk on a chalkboard and learn at a snails pace? If we cannot keep our children technologically advanced at schools as they are at home why should we expect them not to fail?

As one who helped get hundreds of HEADSTART programs started at the inception of the Program; it was a major struggle to find, let alone retain men in the classroom.

Puppet play and parent guests, and a few other curriculum modifications are a lesser substitute for real male role models.

I and a male teacher were the only men inthe Virginia Early Childhood association at the time. You can imagine the frosty reception we got at the annual conference!

I don't think things have changed much; but with Pre-K legislation in play in California and other states; perhaps it is time to modify this trend and take a hard look at making sure there is genuine gender equity in the Pre-K classroom, or no funding!

BTW..male administrators have largely disappeared from the elementary schools, and a few I am familar with are run by social cliques of feminists who decide what will or won't be taught. Gay male teachers are preferred to straight male teachers because they can be subordinated more easily---again, this is anecodotal, relevant to a few schools. Boys are very cogniscent as to which male teachers are 'gay' and which aren't. Does this make a difference in learning? Who knows and how would a researcher find out?

.....and "activities," George!

Thank you for bringing parents, churches and other community organizations into the equation. I made an exodus-of-sorts from an urban school in a university community. As a special ed resource teacher (students with emotional/behavioral disorders) and district crisis intervention trainer, I witnessed extreme situations and fostered a wraparound model for providing services.

Often boys told me that to participate in school was either "being a girl" or "being white." A girl told me that she'd just spoken with her daddy in jail over the weekend, and that he told her to "stick it" to a certain teacher that he never liked. She thought that excused her outrageous behavior. Occasionally I could sneak the academics past their protesting and self-destructive radar.

What I saw on a deeper level had roots in family and community and poverty. I wonder how many of you readers hear, "I ain't gonna do nothin' for a white teacher." Or, when a parent is called to take a child home for striking a teacher, they say, "My child would never do that. You must be lying." And then I would witness the student being disrespectful to the parent as they left or shoving the parent to get out the door first.

The parent-child level of respect at home translates to the relationship between student and teacher. It is a quality of "being" that includes humility and honor and a willingness to do their best.

I told families that I would ride out the storm with them and their children. It is necessary to have a united front with the parents. Often the heavy emphasis on academics had to be suspended until raging ceased, and until that underlying quality of respect returned and came into alignment. "Life skills."

I was able to do this longer than other E/BD colleagues, until the sexual assault, back injury and shoulder injury from students made it clear that the investment came at too great a price. The physical injuries came from both boys and a girl. The girl was displacing rage toward parents, it turned out. Boys were using aggression as power.

I see very similar behaviors in children doing minimal work at an alternative school serving homeschool families. There are few racial differences or experiences of poverty. Privilege can shape the attitudes as much as poverty. The attitudes are not instilled by the teachers.

One struggling 7th grader taught me about honor, and he learned it from his wrestling coach. It was the Greek, classical form. It gave him an inner framework to use to keep going when challenges came his way. It strengthened his inner framework for respect for his parents, all teachers, peers, and even opponents. I'm grateful for what he taught me!

Responding to FJH. Elementary schools tend to be where females are placed in administrative roles, because secondary school levels are considered more academically "important" because this is where students are making decisions about their careers and futures. Secondary schools also have that great pool of male coaches from which to pick administrators.

All of the stereotypical comments about women and the really odd comment about gay men being preferred as teachers, are side issues. You can make women administrators a scapegoat if it makes you feel better. I've known students to label completely heterosexual men as "gay" simply because those men aren't into sports and cars and expect the students to turn in their work on time. I'm not sure boys are more astute to the sexual preferences of their teachers than anyone else in society. And I know for sure that the personal preferences in politics, sex, or anything else of their teachers are is not nearly as important as whether their teachers care about their students and strive for every child to succeed.

But, you have to consider that school principals still have to work within the policies set by their school boards and district administrations. School boards and district level administrations are still by and large male dominated. But, I still don't think this is the problem.

Gina mother of 2 boys has had some unfortunate experiences with the teachers in the schools her boys have been in. She makes some valid points in her response, teachers are overwhelmed by mass numbers of students in the classroom. How do you deal with that? In Japan, its easy, every student is taught from the start to respect their teachers and to behave in class and that not doing so dishonors themselves and their families. So you can pack a class with 50 students and they will be attentive and well behaved. We don't live is Japan, we can't take for granted that honor is a family value. Our options are: struggle with what we have, or find a way to fund smaller class sizes. (there is that money in education issue again)

Her boys are whiz kids with hands on, mechanics, technology, and the like. A lot of boys are, not that girls can't be, but I think you will find plenty of research that backs this statement up, schoolage boys are more kinetic than the girls. They need that hands on experience, they need to run around, move about, and be active.

So, how has the school system changed over the years? We've practically eliminated P.E. and Recess, we've replaced auto mechanics and shop classes with "technology" classes that require you to sit at a computer and do repetitive tasks or sit and listen to lectures. So is it actually any wonder that the boys are more hyper in their academic classes than they used to be?

How do we take on that challenge? We fund tools and resources that let teachers capitalize on the new techno-brilliance of our students. Things like interactive whiteboards, interactive learning software, computer labs, computers. Even in well funded school systems, most have barely scratched the surface when it comes to taking advantage of technology tools. And again... it takes funding, not only for the tools, but for the training. No tool can be used effectively by a teacher who hasn't been trained in how to use it.

If you want good teachers and good schools... you have to be willing to pay for it and to shake those in power into the reality of what is happening in schools. I remember a highly paid guest motivational speaker came to a school I was working at years ago and said, "Throwing money at a problem doesn't usually solve anything. But, I'd sure like to see somebody try throwing money at public education, because it has never been tried before and the lack of it is certainly at the root of many difficulties faced by educators."

The key, of course, is to "throw" the money at the right spots. Salaries, technology, smaller class sizes, and training for teachers could all benefit and students would be the beneficiaries.

Let’s see, one of the writers is a professor of women’s studies, another is a senior research scientist at the Center for Research on Women. Could you find a male professor of men’s studies and another male from the Center for Research on Men to write on the topic?
Research tells us that boys develop verbal skills later than girls, just as girls develop spatial skills later than boys. So one of the first things many boys learn in K and first grade is that they can’t do as well as the girls in school because of the primary focus on reading. There is no research that tells us why boys and girls learn reading at different ages or how we might structure reading instruction to play to boy's strengths. Girl’s spatial development doesn’t become an issue until higher math requiring these skills is encountered in later grades. As a result, many boys learn early that school isn’t for them just a many girls learn later that math isn’t for them. Has there been any gender specific study to see if there are ways to teach boys that address their learning styles and abilities, especially in the early formative years, similar to the way teaching of math has been restructured to accommodate girl’s styles by incorporating more reading and writing.
Do the writers seriously contend that female teachers are not now less tolerant of “typical boy behavior?” “Sit down, be quiet, work cooperatively, sit still, etc., etc., etc.” Many schools are eliminating recess in fact some new schools are built without a play yard. Most parents of boys recognize that boys especially need to run off some of their pent up energy. These and other factors contribute to a situation that is not necessarily “girl friendly” but is assuredly “boy unfriendly.” This could influence boy’s outlook on school for the rest of their academic life.
By the way, if role models really are important, as we are told regarding women and engineering, pay close attention to how males and females are presented in the media. For example our local paper recently ran three different articles on college graduates. Although females represent 57% of the degree recipients in our state 100% of those interviewed and pictured were females. What image do you think that presents to the boys?

DITTO Bill for recruiting advertisements for various public teacher's colleges. Gender biased marketing techniques result in a very lopsided enrollment; nearly all women at UMO.

The 'male' administrator is a red herring in so far as the student is concerned, since their contract with one is minimal. It's the impact on the child which is most important; besides one would could compare performance of a school with the gender of the administrators rather easily. Tempting.

I have been very interested in educating boys both as a parent and a teacher.

I bring this perspective to my classroom, and see many kids with varying degrees of difficulty dealing with being in a classroom and being required to spend the day sitting in a room listening to some adult stuff 'learning' into their heads. It won't work for my kids, and doesn't work in the classroom.

There differences in the genders that I have been very intrigued to observe, and some of them have been commented upon already: the fact that boys are slower to use language; the poor handwriting; the distractability; the resulting behavioral challenges. My sons are typical, if a little more challenging than the average.

What can we do? And what can we do without losing the girls? I thought my goal in teaching would be to attract young girls to science, and I do try. But I spend more energy convincing boys not to give up on school, period. The amazing thing the fact that 10-20% of all my male students who have terrible handwriting, no organizational skills, difficulty writing and real trouble with behavior are also bright, creative and very capable learners. They are among my best students, if only I can keep them engaged!

What is missing is the desire, ability and/or necessary supports to reach these kids without losing the 'good' students (mostly girls) who thrive in a more traditional schoolroom. I agree wholeheartedly with the recommendations to make the learning real (of course we should be able to answer the "what do I need this for?" question as often as it is asked!) and the need for more funding - and this is hardly gender-specific. Mostly I would wish teachers would be, as one author put it, a 'third parent', working WITH parents and responding individually to all students.

If you re-read this article, it shows a definite bias against boys in favor of girls. Obviously, the writer doesn't even believe this is a problem for the boys as much as it is an attack on the girls. The first sentence is the "so-called Boy Crisis", as if the problem boys are having academically are entirely their own genetic fault. Throughout my teaching career I could never understand why boys had to be put down in order for girls to excel. The underlying ideology is boys must be controlled while girls are allowed to flourish. And this is the attitude perpetuated in most public schools where most of the teachers and administration are women. TV, media, and society in general down plays male accomplishments as boorish and favors women. No wonder Johnny can't read, no one believes he can or should be allowed to.

I feel that a significant issue in this discussion has to be media culture. Boys can play video games, watch tv, sports and movies and listen to music that gives them the message that whatever they want is their's for the taking. The world is a place that is at their disposal and the future is there for them to control. Unfortunately, they are not taught (at home?) that only 1 in 20,000 high school seniors go on to be professional athletes, and that the world that they are seeing and hearing is not the world that truly exists outside of their window. I get very frustrated when parents talk to me about the problems their children are having, while also explaining to me how their children are essentially being raised by TV and video games. It is no wonder that the parent who commented about her children is frustrated with school, because at home the children get one on one time with their "teachers" (the TV screen), and when they get to school there is not only one teacher in the classroom, but there are also no dungeons, creatures, weapons and enemies to kill involved in the teacher's lesson plan for math. Who wouldn't be bored?
The amount of children who come to school tired because they stayed up too late playing games or watching TV is often enough to make me sick.
When we can begin to recreate a true society of people who care for each other, spend time helping and creating with each other, and believe in each other as people, we might begin to see that the roots of this problem run much deeper than the foundations of our schools.

I have a 4.0 GPA and am taking all the hardest classes my school has to offer(4 AP's). No one has made fun of me for spending extra time on homework. In fact, a lot of people (from both sexes)have said that they wish to follow my example. And I'm not the only guy in my grade to earn respect for excelling in class. I don't know if it is because my school is mainly Asian (Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Filipino, Korean, Cambodian, Vietnamese). I hope this bit of information is helpful to this discussion.

I am a new teacher and want very much to grapple right away with this issue in my own teaching. I’ve tried to summarize the more application-oriented comments above into something I can review periodically. (I would appreciate any feedback):

In my own teaching, I could try to be more conscious of how equally I guide and care for boys as much as for girls.
I might re-examine my modeling for children of tolerance and understanding of differences among all kinds of people, including boys & men vs. girls and women.
I might try harder to listen to and work with parents, even the difficult ones.
I can differentiate learning strategies according to differences in male/female development (verbal vs. special, etc.)--and try to remain cognizant of the attitudes and self-image that accompany those developmental patterns.
I can renew and revitalize my use of anticipatory set, where my lessons first guide with real-world applicability--consistent with the likely observations students make daily of social modeling going on outside of school (i.e., how parents and family members live, act and interact).
The more my lessons can incorporate guided, game-style computer activities, the better.
I will try my best to engineer success for all, because experiences of success arouse feelings within students of much needed self-respect and tolerance for others.

All of the above seems like a tall order, but what about teaching isn’t? I wonder if this list will be enough to solve the problem?

Well put!

We are a PI3 school in Los Angeles. I have 10 boys and 28 girls in my 8th Grade Honors US History class. Yes, that is 38 students in an Honors class! Of the ten boys: 6 are earning Cs, 3 have As and one is earning a D. Not one girl has a grade lower than a C. This made me check the rest of my classes. First period: 14 Fs, but only 5 are boys; Third period: 10Fs, 2 girls, 8 boys; Fifth period 11Fs, 2 girls, 9 boys; Sixth period: 7 Fs, 1 girl, 6 boys. That is a total of 42 failing students, 28 boys and 14 girls. We have one school counselor for 800 students. He’s great, but how much can he really do? Our politicians promise more money for education and more counselors for our at risk students. The number of intervention counselors on campus: zero! When will an educrat come to the rescue?

What about the way that we are teaching. It seems that with a lack of instructional time we are focusing more on lectures as the primary teaching method. There are many different learning styles and since girls have historically done better with language skills, perhaps the reason boys are falling behind is that the way that we teach is not the way that they learn.

My sense is that the culture of our country changed when emphasis was placed on encouraging girls to study math and science. Boys were never discouraged from studying these fields. However, at this point in time one of the biggest impediments to boys choosing to study anything is the lack of regard placed on education. When this is addressed, some (but not all) of the issues will be resolved.

RD--I commend you on your willingness to study issues and improve your teaching--I wish MORE teachers would do that.

The "boy crisis" is a complicated problem with its roots in many societal and biological factors. We teachers should stop complaining about parents, administrators, and other factors we have no control over and instead focus on what we CAN change. The only thing I can change is how I teach. Research has shown us that boys (generally--obviously not all) strive on competition, action, and "real" problem-solving. We should, as teachers, be willing to change our lessons and ways of managing our classes so that ALL of our students (or at least most of them) have an equal chance to succeed. Unfortunately, I've found that most of my colleagues are unwilling to change ANYTHING they do, despite rising failure rates and lower test scores. When did we teachers become so arrogant? Why do so many of us believe that the way WE teach is the BEST way to teach?

I believe that some minor changes in assignments and delivery methods would go a long way in solving any gender-bias found in the classroom. Here are some ideas: give students choices in projects and other assignments; have more than one way that a student can show they are proficient at a required skill; have more discussion and less lecture; expect more thinking and less memorization; and last, but not least, respect all of your students. I'm sure I could add to this list... perhaps some of you can come up with other ideas, too...

There is a very false dichotomy exhibited in this article in the way these views are presented. This article is being presented as if when girls do well boys can't also do well. It is NOT the FAULT of girls that boys are not doing well in school! The fault lies in our society which tells boys that doing well in school is for "losers and geeks" and being "tough, even aggressive is cool"! ALL of our children will do well when they are EQUALLY encouraged and given EQUAL resources!

Does NO ONE remember the mid-1990's? The entire educational community hovered around the newly-realized "fact" that schools were biased AGAINST girls; that boys received much more attention from teachers; yada, yada. As classroom teachers, we were actually instructed to (1) rearrange our seating plans to give girls "preferential" seating in the front and center of the classroom; (2) ignore boys when they raised their hands and call on girls even if they hadn't; (3) direct questions or instructional points directly to girls. Everyone in my district had to keep a log of the number of "educational interchanges" we had with girls versus the number we had with boys, and WE WERE TOLD TO INCREASE OUR INTERCHANGES WITH GIRLS NO LESS THAN 50%. (This was actually a specific behavior administrators looked for when they came to observe our classes.)

The media was full of statistics about how girls would do so much better in all-girls' schools and classrooms because boys got "so much more attention" in gender-mixed classrooms.

Now, ten years later, it seems girls are doing well and boys are not. Gee ... why would that be? It COULDN'T be that what we were instructed to do did what we wanted (improved girls' performance) but also had an unintended conequence (disenfranchising boys).

Pedagogues and statisticians CAN'T be wrong, and the feminist agenda couldn't possibly have any negative consequences. So there must be something else behind this gender gap.

Ultimately, I agree with N. Ledbetter: "My question would be not are boys doing worse than girls, but rather are boys doing worse than they used to do?" I suspect I know the answer.

After reading several of these comments, it finally reminded me of something very very important that I learned a few years ago. We were working with the lowest of the low group to get them up to par. The program we used to establish a starting point was called Structure of Intellect and it was the most comprehensive, well-designed assessment that I have seen. All students were tested, even we the teachers were tested. It was so much fun to look at our results and see areas that we needed to work on. It's well worth looking into. What it taught me is that when something is NOT working to NOT generalize, but to get more detailed. Just like a pond. It's not the same pond in the middle as it is on the edges or the surface or the bottom, yet it's still called a pond. Speaking of which, we don't see many ponds around here much anymore, but, I generalize.

Although I have enjoyed reading the lively commentary from such an informed and enthusiastic congregation, I am compelled to address one area that seems to have been overlooked. When a vast majority of interesting, lucrative careers for males DO NOT involve academia AT ALL--music industry, sports, entertainment--why should young men exert the effort in school?
When teaching in a middle school, my young male charges (averaging four feet in height and 80 pounds at best) were looking forward to careers in the NBA or the NFL. In high school, the focus changed to how to make money with the least amount of effort (music, entertainment, technology or, if unsuccessful, drugs).
Let's face it: Our society places more value on entertainment than anything else. Evidence of this is apparent in that more Americans voted in the "Idol" election than for the last presidential race. We, as educators, must make lessons entertaining to reach the techno generation at all.
Everyone is up in arms about education, but he/she wants someone else to deal with that problem while he/she toddles off to the stadium, concert hall, or to the shrine of the home theater.

"ALL of our children will do well when they are EQUALLY encouraged and given EQUAL resources!" This is precisely the point. Boys are not being equally encouraged and are not being given equal resources by the educational community. To see just a few examples, one need only look at the Maine Task Force on Gender Equity in Education (which ignored its mandate and then chose to include female students, but not male student representatives on the task force), and this years AGELE conference which includes 22 presentations dealing with girls and has only one that focuses on boys.

This commentary and those like it are primarily the result of the "zero-sum game" model that is held by most gender equity professionals. They hold that anything which benefits boys must harm girls. (As a brief aside, you will often see them say "Helping girls doesn't mean hurting boys," but they never actually say the reverse "helping boys doesn't mean hurting girls.") This belief is the primary cause of the recent backlash by femminist groups against efforts to eliminate the gender gaps in academic performance.

It is highly ironic that this commentary speaks of "legitimate concerns about how the issue is being framed." I do not remember these authors being equally concerned about such titles as "How Schools Shortchange Girls" and "How Our Schools Shortchange Girls."

The bottom line is that organizations such as the AAUW are upset that "the other side" is using exactly the same approach that they did 15 years ago in trumpeting "the girl crisis." Perhaps if they had chosen to focus on "ALL of our children (doing) well" back in 1991, their complaints today might have some validity.

I am interested in doing my dissertation on the achievement gap or, more properly, boys' lack of achievement. I'm wondering if girls' achievement represents the fruits of the feminist push for girls to excel. It seems that our efforts to push girls to excel are bearing fruit. Girls are working harder, achieving more, and are well on there way to great success. Granted, we need to monitor the many old boys' networks that persist. Boys, meanwhile, are suffering from a Peter Pan complex. Lacking a similar motivation to prove that "we can do it," boys prolong their adolscence well into their college years. As a result, they don't work hard, have higher drop-out rates, continue to lose ground in English, and have lost their edge to girls in Mathematics. Feel free to e-mail me at [email protected] if you're interested in sharing your thoughts or if you can put me in touch with student and/or educators I could interview.

I believe that, with the lack of preparation received for all students prior to entering school, kindergarten screening should target students early and not allow them into the K-12 experience until they are ready to sit still, cope with socialization requiring focus and listening, and show a readiness for academic learning. Boys are generally ready for school at a later date than girls of the same age level. Our schools corral students into school so that parents can go back to full time work. Students suffer.

Various studies have shown that students receive 10% of the attention for reading and mathematics readiness prior to entering kindergarten than they did in the 60s. Yet, we have higher expectations heaped onto the teacher. Teachers cannot alleviate every insufficiency that students have when they enter school.

Since girls tend to be more ready to follow directions, obey rules, etc. at an earlier age than boys, I feel that starting boys in school before they are ready sets them up for frustration. I find that even very bright, smart boys are often not able to sit still and focus on learning. Teachers often call that "immaturity" which annoys some parents who think they are "just being boys." I think they are just being boys and that it is the exception, not the rule, that boys are ready to focus as soon as girls.

Also, boys tend to be better in sports if their parents keep them at home one extra year. Academic success is higher for those boys who graduate when they are 18 1/2 to 19, rather than 16 1/2 to 18. Of course, this isn't always the case. Some boys are ready for the school experience at age 5 and other aren't.

I feel that the new "standards" are based on the upper quarter of students can understand easily. The other 50% that are expected to understand generally have difficulties in some areas and are guessing much of the time. The lower 25% struggle and feel pushed beyond their limits.

I think that especially in Ohio NCLB has been detrimental to actual education. It has taken all fun out of learning and has created way too much tension for teachers, students, and parents.

I personally don't share the urge to force excellence from all students when it is next to impossible. For the 2014 wish that ALL students are working on grade level by 2014, I feel that someone, somewhere has no clue about real human beings.

I believe all kids can learn, but not the same things in the same amount of time or at the same age.

I feel that boys are at a larger disadvantage than girls because of their need to do things other than academics. I also think our society does value certain traits as "male" and "female." If a boy gets A's easily without having to study or without making a constant issue of his grades in high school, it is accepted. It is more accepted if they boy is an athlete, not a band or drama club member. This poor way of looking at "maleness" is advocated by many coaches in our area. It is unfortunate.

The community tends to give more awards in an open, public venue for sports achievement than for academic achievement. Newspapers give an inordinate amount of space and attention to sports and relegate academic success to some obscure place in the paper, if it is mentioned at all. Schools have to REQUEST attention for student achievement (unless it is about comparing the scores of different schools on the achievement tests -- sounds like a sports comparison) than they do on those who win at sports, whether individual or team sports. I don't recall seeing weekly reports on that achievements of the Academic Team or the Band contests (which, if you ever saw a band competition you'd realize that it is a team sport and takes a lot of stamina to achieve this team effort at a high level).

So, absolutely, I believe that our society sets up all these "rules" for succeeding in it, but it makes it difficult for anyone who doesn't fit into the old mold AND the new mold.

I honestly wonder where the jobs will be for all the highly educated people we think we are producing for the future. How frustrating to be so highly educated and only find a job in a restaurant for most of your life! The jobs are increasing in the service sector, yet we feel obligated to create people who feel they should be managers and CEO's. This isn't to say we should dumb down anything, but to some extent, we should allow kids to have some input into being who they want to be instead of having some government bureaucrats telling them what they "must" know or they aren't considered successful human beings.

Having read several of the comments, I do agree that our society encourages boys to be boys. That equates to not getting stellular grades, being sports minded, and not gentlemanly. Girls are encouraged to study, expected to do well, and if they can do more..well, great. I was educated in the sixties/seventies and never felt I was restricted in school; I was restricted in the job market, however.

Our schools do set up all our students to fail. We bolt desks to the floor, take several months off every year, increase content to be learned, lessen time for development, decrease activities not verbal-linguistic in nature, and alienate parents.

We need to revamp our system of education and focus on teaching students to think critically and creatively. The blogger from Detroit who spoke regarding the achievement of single-sex education should be listened to across our nation. Teachers have great ideas...politicians need to listen.

It’s no secret that crises sell newspapers, magazines, and books, and making it all “about the boys” has been the focus of any number of recent (and indeed excellent) books dealing with literacy and gender (c.f., Misreading Masculinity, Even Hockey Players Read, To Be a Boy, to Be a Reader). However, like Brown, Chesney-Lind, and Stein, back in 2002 Barbara Roswell and I expressed deep concern about approaching the issue of literacy and gender as a zero-sum game. Our book, Reading, Writing, and Gender (Eye on Education) presented instructional strategies and classroom activities based on research on the different ways that boys and girls construct meaning as readers and writers. Implementation of these strategies has led to improved performance and engagement in literacy learning for both boys AND girls. These strategies are not simplistic affirmations of “boyness,” and go well beyond changing texts and writing topics. Gender-based preference and practice is only one of a myriad of factors that able teachers must address in order to differentiate instruction and ensure student success. The good news, we believe, is that it is addressable, and that both boys and girls can come out winners.

No offence but the girls may be smarter than the boys in most cases but that isn't anyone being treated differently, that is to do with the fact that girls study and boys don't. The thing that i find annoying is the way boys always get treated differently when we play sports because the male teachers think that the boys are better but to be truthful i don't think that is fair. The boys shouldn't be treated differently because of the gender of the teacher.We all should be treated on how well we can play the sport. I don't mean to be rude but i can usually beat all the guys at nearly everything to do with sports, i only sometimes get rewarded but not all the time because the teacher is usually concentrated on the boys. This all needs to change because everyone is a meant to be treated the same no matter what you look like or how well you play the game.

Sigh...

I only wish so much attention were being paid to the really gaping gaps--Students with Disabilities vs Students without; Blacks and Hispanics vs Asians and whites; low SES vs non-low SES.

"I only wish so much attention were being paid to the really gaping gaps"

That issue was raised back in the early 90's when the "girl crisis" started with Sadker's book and the AAUW reports. Both replied that gender was more important than the other performance gaps. So goes the law of unintended consequences...

As an educator, I found your article, "What About the Boys" interesting. While I agree that there are social issues in play here, one must also look at our underfunded educational system. As a mother of boy/girl twins I can tell you that boys grow, think or learn differently from girls. As an educator, I was surprised that there was no mention in the article about learning styles. As K. Fincher, mom, wrote on 6/7; boys often do not have the same fine motor skills as girls. They often do not focus on the "details". Boys like to build, move, create and use their gross motor skills. Teachers need to introduce projects that are constructive, creative and involve critical thinking... projects that engage boys; while limiting the lecture, sit and take notes or do paperwork, the atmosphere so familiar in many high school learning environents. Since we are fighting some socio-economic styreotyping, all the more reason we as educators need to instruct our male students in the way that they learn best, while not ignoring the girls along the way least the pendulum should swing again!!!

Ok, I have up till now kept quiet. I have been trying to keep up with sever such threads all over the net. I am in grade 11, am a male making a gpa of 94%. I am in advanced Language Arts, Physics, Chemistry, and Trigonometry. And out of all these classes. Boys are outnumbered, almost to a 3:1 ration, in every class except physics [which is the opposite]. When I started to ask why, I saw one of my best friends who was in my class struggling and in near tears because she couldn't understand a problem. I sat beside her and helped her the best i could, she understood almost immediatly.But in Language Arts aka English, I see the opposite. Some of my good friends who are male struggle. They cant figure out how their sentance composure was incorrect, or find another word to replace a commonly used one. My physics teacher is a Male and English Female. In almost each class i have it is taught by a woman. And in each of those courses I see girls score higher then me, even though i am top ranked on the national level. How could this be? I wondered, I have never had a problem with school. Instead of earning my 95s i got 85s, a sharp decrease.

So to get to my point. In order to bring my marks up I needed to stay after class and talk to my teachers, I asked why she thought i deserved this mark over what i usually get. She said because i was not creative enough and did not put enough effort into it. Enough effort?!?!?!?! Ok dont get me wrong I am a guy, sex, girls and cars are always on my mind. But i put hours into my compositions and projects. I usually have no grammatical errors. So I started asking around. Both my friends who were girls and guys said female teachers favored girls. I found this out, I raise my hand at nearly every question. I can go weeks without being called on. But I can see Katie beside me get called on three maybe four time in one day. And you know what, I get graded on participation. To say what i want to say, i work just as hard if not harder then most girls in my class, and i get worse grades. I have my friends look over my work and they say it is just as good as theirs. So now for all this effort i dont get the reward. Now i understand where all my other friend not in advanced classes slack off. If it weren't for my goal of being a pharmacist one day i would too.
And further more, I see all this talk about boy crissis and such. Maybe if we positivly reinforce boys at a younger age. And please remember that boys are different, we tend to challenge things more. But when I challenge things i am asked to step out of the class, I dont disrespect the teacher or make an ass of myself. I just say well why does it have to be done this way, If we were to draw the chart...alex please go into the hall. But if a girl were to do that they would be applauded and asked to implement her ideas for the class project.

Now befor I go on, I want to show that i am not biased, only stating what i see. Because frankly teachers see very little of this in my opinion, you can talk all you want. But I am on the front line, and I am tired of all this sexist and unfair treatement. As well as helping my friends get along. Our genders are not the same and unless teachers decide to do teach some things two ways one for each gender then make single ed schools.

i found these statements to be very interesting. my mother and i have just recently had some in depth conversations about how boys are less focused on than girls are, now a days. it seems to be that boys used to hold all the attention academically but now it has flipped around, where girls can do anything?

I suppose, drugs themselves aren't the only way as a solution to help with disorders of emotional or thoughts processes of people. It takes all three to be looked at and dealt with, emotional/mental, spiritual and physical. WBR LeoP

I teach at upper middle class, almost pure white high school in NH. I think it may be the most serious problem facing education in this country.

As the school year ends, I check out who are the Top Ten from the areas schools. The ratio of females to males is almost universaly way out of line. 7:3, 8:2 and up. I don't know the exact cause, but one answer I have heard from a number of female students who have older brothers is that their parents have put much more pressure on them than their brothers. I assume it's because the perception, is that this is a "man's world" and women have to work twice as hard and be twice as smart to be as successful as a man.

If the trend continues, we'll a nation of a few male executives, many female managers trying to break the glass cieling, and way too many underemployed and bitter men wondering what's gone wrong.

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