June 06, 2007

Educating Boys

Thirty years ago all the buzz was about girls falling behind academically.  We HAD to fix that.  Change the classrooms.  Make them more girl-friendly.  Give the girls more role models, more chances.  Affirmative action for girls, right?

Well, it looks like we did TOO good a job.  As this article points out, boys are now falling far behind girls, and are testing at a lower level than they were 35 years ago.

“Boys are in trouble,” said Krista Kafer, visiting fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum. “The facts are quite clear; boys trail girls in most indicators of academic excellence such as, school engagement, achievement scores, and graduation rates at secondary and postsecondary levels.” Kafer presented these facts in her latest IWF position paper, Taking the Boy Crisis in Education Seriously: How School Choice Can Boost Achievement Among Boys and Girls.
The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), conducted by the U.S. Department of Education, shows an overwhelming amount of data that supports Kafer’s theory. Take a look:
* A 2005 NAEP study revealed that a third of 12th grade boys cannot read a newspaper and understand what they are reading.
* The NAEP “Long-Term Trend Test” (started in 1971 and has remained unchanged to better track academic trends over time) showed that at age 17 boys’ reading achievement was fourteen points lower than girls’ and in fact is lower than it was in 1971.
* The same test also shows that scores for the 12th grade reveal that in math, girls have improved while boys have slipped. In reading, girls have improved a little while boys have fallen behind even more.
As an instructor of young women and young men, it is clear to me that while there are differences between boys and girls in the way they learn, there are no real generalizations that can be made about "boys" or "girls".  Each student has a unique learning style, and each student responds best to different types of instruction.  In the past, girls often received less encouragement at home with regard to school achievement, but these days, most kids receive very little positive reinforcement of their academic achievements, boy or girl.  If they do hear about grades, it's often a demand or other negative form of reinforcement.

The best thing that parents can do is be involved enough in their child's education to know what stimulates them to learn best, and work with the teacher to give the child opportunities to experience that kind of instruction, at home or at school. And parents should also be aware that this pro-girl thinking has clearly shaped modern pedagogy, and not completely in a bad way, especially parents of boys.

h/t the venomous one

Posted by caltechgirl at June 6, 2007 06:55 PM | TrackBack

Just remember the Simpsons episode, where the math teacher asks how math makes the girls feel? That was fun stuff....

What's your thought on boys and girls learning how to be good adults, not necessarily basic education standards of math and english? Part of my experience tells me that boys do not learn how to be men from being around women, no matter how strong or good the woman is (good being defined as morally good), and that they need the presence of strong or good men in their life to look up to, and aspire to become.

I've heard it said that girls do not need the same, but I have no first hand experience in that.

Posted by: Bill at June 6, 2007 08:56 PM

Sigh. I have a long road in front of me.

Posted by: vw bug at June 7, 2007 12:43 PM