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Raising Boys

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Boys in School

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Experience the differences between boys and girls.


Is It the Boy — Or is It the School?

Is It the Boy — Or is It the School?

"The culture of schools, especially for young children, is much more feminine than masculine. There are almost no male early childhood educators. Many teachers of young children find boys' interests in violence, gross things, and bodily functions to be boring or stupid. We need to recognize that many of us have 'internal prejudices' against these interests. Just as we used to ask ourselves in the '70s, 'In what ways am I being sexist in my treatment of girls?' we now have to ask, 'In what ways are we disapproving of boys' interests in our classrooms?' "

Joseph Tobin, Ph.D.

Professor of Early Childhood Education, Arizona State University. Author, Good Guys Don't Wear Hats

Some boys thrive in school. There are more "boy geniuses" than "girl geniuses" and there are more boys in the top 1 percent of the IQ scale than there are girls.

But many boys don't fare as well and for the majority of them, school may not be as a good a fit as it is for girls. "There is no single boy experience at school because there is a wide range of boys and some take to school and some don't," says Michael Thompson, Ph.D., co-author, Raising Cain. "But for the average boy, school is not as good a fit as it is for the average girl. More boys have problems with attention and focus than girls. Because of their higher activity level, boys are likely to get into more trouble than girls. And they are not given enough opportunities to move around both in actual physical activity and in how they learn because they spend too much time sitting and not enough time learning by doing, making and building things."

The statistics tell an alarming tale:

According to the National Center for Educational Statistics:

  • Boys are 30 percent more likely than girls to flunk or drop out of school;

  • When it comes to grades and homework, girls outperform boys in elementary, secondary, high school, college, and even graduate school;

  • Boys are four to five times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD);  

  • Women outnumber men in higher education with 56 percent of bachelor's degrees and 55 percent of graduate degrees going to women.

According to the U.S. Department of Education:

  • Boys make up two-thirds of the students in special education and are five times more likely to be classified as hyperactive.

Parents of boys stay calm! While the statistics are disturbing, they don't describe every boy or necessarily your boy but they do raise concerns about many boys' school experience. "The odds are that if you come from a family that values education, your boy will be successful in school and will go on to college. Most boys do. However, the average American boy is struggling in school," advises Michael Thompson.

The Problem with School

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