Saturday, March 11, 2017

Where are the boys?

Before I start this blog, let it be known to all that I am the mother to two daughter and no sons.  I am very proud of my daughters as they are very accomplished.  That being said, I have noticed that there have been a lack of boys in leadership positions at school, 4H, and church.  What has happened to the boys? Where did they go?

I have also noticed the difference in success with education between girls and boys.  Girls are doing great.  They are the majority of college degree holders. According to Anne Fisher, author of “Boys vs. Girls:  What’s Behind the College Grad Gender Gap?,”   “Female grads now account for about 60% of U.S. bachelor’s degree holders.” (2013). This is great news because educated women give their own children a huge advantage.  However, where are the boys? Why are boys not more successful in education?  

Michael Gurian and Kathy Stevens, authors of “With Boys and Girls in Mind,” posed this question: “Is contemporary education maliciously set against either males or females?” (2004) The answer is NO!! No one actually believes that the education system is engaged in active gender warfare with boys being intentionally sabotaged.  But there has been changes in education based on gender which has not been done by educators.   According to Gurian and Stevens,  “For a number of decades, most of our cultural sensitivity to issues of gender and learning came from advocacy groups that pointed out ways in which girls struggled in school.“ (2004).  This means that people not in education are making policy and procedure for education.

However, the question is still there:  Why are the boys not as successful in education as the girls are? Ron Coniglio, author of “Why Gender Matters in the Classroom,” states:  “I feel that as classroom teachers whether or not it is nature or nurture that creates these differences is not all that relevant to us. What is relevant is that we see gender differences in the students in our classrooms” (2017).  However, these difference exist, regardless of the origins of the difference.  How we teachers react to these difference are important.  According to Coniglio, “80% of high school dropouts are boys, 80% of all classroom discipline problems are boys, 70% of students with learning disabilities are boys, 80% of students who are behaviorally disordered are boys, 80% of students on medication for ADHD and ADD are boys” (2017).  These numbers are shocking.  We can make the leap that the boys that are dropping out are the ones that are having learning issues which can result in discipline issues as a result of frustration.  However, the question is - why?  Why is this happening? Why are boys struggling in the current education environment?

Anne Fisher offers some advice on how to prevent these numbers.  “First, the most important predictor of boys’ achievement is the extent to which the school culture expects and rewards academic effort,” School need to set high expectations and recognize each student as an individual, not a cell in a spreadsheet.”Second, the authors write, their research shows that “boys have less understanding than girls about how their future success in college and work is directly linked to their academic effort in middle school and high school.”  (Fisher, 2013).  Boys need more help in understanding the connection between education and success outside of school.  

How do we teachers do this?  We need to make connections to the “real” world from the classroom.  We need more hands-on classes.  We also need to bring back other options than college for after high school.  Popular entertainer and “blue collar” advocate, Mike Rowe has put the spotlight on successful trade jobs that allow for good careers in the article “11 High Paying Blue Collar Jobs with Mike Rowe.”   “Rowe said, [that it]] is the attitude of many Americans that the trades are merely a last-ditch alternative when college doesn't work out.” (Dugar 2017).  We teachers need to change this attitude amongst all of our students but especially amongst boys.  We need to create learning environments that play to boys’ strengths - like hands-on activities that promote building, problem solving, and critical thinking skills.  We need to encourage the  Industrial Arts, FFA, and other programs that promote hands-on learning. We need to have our boys be successful in classroom so that they can be successful outside classroom, which is the majority of their lives.

Conigilo, Ron. "Why Gender Matters in the Classroom: The Differences Between Boys and
Girls." Why Gender Matters in the Classroom: The Differences Between Boys and Girls., n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2017.

Dugan, Dawn. "11 High-Paying Blue Collar Jobs with Mike Rowe." 11 High-Paying Blue Collar
Jobs with Mike Rowe., n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2017.

Gurian, Michael, and Kathy Stevens. "With Boys and Girls in Mind." Educational Leadership.
ASCD, Nov. 2004. Web. 19 Feb. 2017. <With Boys and Girls in Mind>.

Fisher, Anne. "Boys vs. Girls: What’s behind the College Grad Gender Gap?" Boys vs. Girls:
What’s behind the College Grad Gender Gap? Fortune, 27 Mar. 2013. Web. 18 Feb.

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