"A small percentage of boys, perhaps 3 to 5 percent, are so distractible, impulsive and have so much difficulty following conventional rules that they find school unbearable. For these ADHD-diagnosed boys, medication may make all the difference in their ability to manage the demands of school. However, as greater numbers of boys are diagnosed with ADHD, we have to ask: are they being diagnosed because they are genuinely learning disabled, or are they being medicated because they are boys? Some teachers seem to have little tolerance for boy energy and want them fixed so that they can fit into the classroom better; other teachers, both women and men, work extremely well with even the most active boys."
Michael Thompson, Ph.D.
Co-Author, Raising Cain; Host, PBS documentary, RAISING CAIN
Why don't young boys do as well as girls in school? Do the requirements of school make it hard for some young boys to get along with teachers and succeed at learning? Is the problem at school — at home — and in the media?
Boys act out in school to assert their masculinity."Boys tend to resist female authority, in order to feel sufficiently masculine," says Tobin. "A lot of boy behaviors considered resistant or naughty are simply boys' ways of asserting their masculinity. And the resulting punishment feels like an attack on the boys' masculinity, so the battle escalates."
Boys get into more trouble in school than girls. Boys are more likely to end up in the principal's office for disciplinary reasons because they are so active when they are with other boys. Boys can come to resent school for that reason.
Physical activity is limited in many schools. Budget cuts and inadequate facilities have caused some schools to limit gym facilities, or not to offer quality physical activity. And often, recess is taken away from children as punishment.
Many fathers only show up for athletic events. They are not closely involved with academic pursuits. Boys whose fathers do attend PTA meetings tend to get better grades than boys whose fathers don't pay attention to academics.
The media shows few images of academically successful men. Television, movies and video games focus on men of action, men with guns, and especially men who are good at sports.