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Do Teachers Have Boy Problems?

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Ferriter jumps into the gender-gap debate, saying that schools by their nature might well be rigged against boys. For many teachers, he charges, characteristically energetic and impulsive middle school boys are "walking disruptions to be dismissed and disciplined."

And it only gets worse in high school:

They spend more and more time sitting in one place listening quietly to teachers who are lecturing for hours on end, sending the subtle message that knowledge is held by those who are in charge. They either conform—pushing their energy and creativity to the side and beginning to believe that there is something ‘wrong’ with them—or they push back and end up labeled as troublemakers.
6 Comments

As a teacher of emotionally disabled kids, I see WAY more boys than girls, in part because boys are easier to diagnose--the squeaky wheel, and all that. But I also agree that typical boy behavior is less tolerated by society in general and school in particular. It's my job to help the kids learn enough self-discipline to fit in, both at school and in the community. Do I wish it was different? Sure...but I'm a realist, and if that means helping an overactive, action-loving first grade boy learn to "WALK!!!" down the hall rather than run,jump,tag the doorjam, etc.... well, I am willing to do that. Will it help when they get to middle school?... I hope so, boy do I hope so....

What teacher still lectures for hours on end??? The newest trends in education call for active learning. I would like to encourage you to look at what is really happening in classrooms today.

S. Kendall wrote:
What teacher still lectures for hours on end??? The newest trends in education call for active learning. I would like to encourage you to look at what is really happening in classrooms today.

Thanks for the encouragment, S.

I've been working in classrooms for the past 16 years, and while there are many more progressive teachers today than there were yesterday, you can find "sit and get" classrooms on every hallway in every school in America.

A part of the reason for that sad reality is our nation's push towards standardized testing as a measure of accomplishment in every area. With massive curricula to cover, teachers are pushed into a corner and forced to "deliver" as opposed to "facilitate."

If that's not the reality in your own building, you are a lucky person. I'd bet that there are dozens of teachers who'd like to transfer to your school tomorrow.

Bill

My son is a rising sixth grader and we had some real boy problems in elementary school. The work was often not suited for boys. He loved to write but he was told he could not write stories with guns and violence. The books he was asked or allowed to read were not on topics that would interest most boys. The history lessons were sugar coated and became anything less than exciting. He went from having a real zeal for learning when he entered school to being bored and uninterest in just 5 years. Educators better wake up we are losing an entire generation of males.

Bill says: A part of the reason for that sad reality is our nation's push towards standardized testing as a measure of accomplishment in every area. With massive curricula to cover, teachers are pushed into a corner and forced to "deliver" as opposed to "facilitate."

While I do not doubt that what he says is true with regard to the push to "deliver" as opposed to "facilitate," I would really love for someone to show me some research to indicate that this is a rational response. That is, to demonstrate that poor teaching results in better test results than good teaching. In other words, does being in the same room with 100% of the content that might be covered result in better class scores than actually learning say, 50-75% of the content that might be covered?

And if not, then why we going there?

My hunch is that the standards movement has been an unwelcome sea change that educators have felt that they had little control over. Demonstrating a bad attitude, passive-aggressively, is behavior that doesn't get you into much trouble in a school. And it always helps if you can say that you had no choice, or that someone else made you do it.

Some of life is sit-'n-git, some of life is doing. Some information can best be given by direct instruction, other concepts are best learned by experience and inquiry. There is no "only right way" to teach. Just as there is not one only right way to learn.

Why can't we do a better job of helping boys to channel their energy and creativity toward academic activity? Do boys see themselves as scholars or intellectuals, or only as athletes or soldiers? Male intellectualism in high school is punished by peers, and even very bright boys avoid the appearance of "geekyness".

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