December 27, 2010 by readlisaread
There has been a lot of articles written and general theorizing in the last few years with regard to the job schools are doing for Boys. It seems our 1950’s designed bricks and blackboards-every-one-in-a-row schools aren’t cutting it for half the population. Boys need activity, and different kinds of visual stimulation, and to read stories about flatulence instead of ponies. There is a lot of truthiness in these statements, but whenever the generalizations start, I get that squinty look.
There are a few illogical bits right off the top, not the least being the implied question of whether or not today’s average school meets the needs of ALL its learners. Secondly, have boys changed so much since the advent of school that suddenly we have a crisis in our inability to educate them properly? Finally, what is it that schools are supposed to be teaching? Information, or how to fit into society. If it’s information, then we have a BIG problem, and not just with 50% of the student body. If what we are really doing is socializing the little beasts, then we aren’t doing such a bang-up job there either, judging by the steady numbers of bullying incidence, teen suicides, unplanned pregnancies and STDs.
Whenever I hear anything that is split by gender, I get suspicious. Not because I think it leads to iniquity, but more because I think it leads to backlash. First, (and I do mean first, like before-papyrus-was -invented first) girls weren’t even allowed to be educated, and neither were boys unless their families were SomeOne. Eventually, some girls and more boys were included, and then we arrived at our “modern” system, that educated all boys and girls equally. This is where the trouble started.
Before society knew it, women not only wanted to learn to read and write, they wanted the vote, too, and proper healthcare, with perhaps the occasional Female Doctor.
All this education led to Civil Rights and Womens’ Liberation, and it’s likely responsible for Global Warming too, but that’s another Post. Did we take a wrong turn in the ’70’s and start only educating little girls, to make up for centuries of inequality? Or did something else go awry?
Maybe we should worry less about being more inclusive and instead concentrate on being less exclusionary. I’m thinking that if we employed some of those changes that would appeal to boys, there would be a number of learners who would benefit, regardless of their gender. While we are at it, let’s throw in a few other practices, like an education that encourages children to use technology ethically, and makes allowances for learning at a different pace than age-peers. Also, are there situations where streaming improves all of the learners’ experiences? And it would be nice to avoid the inevitable backlash, a few years down the road, where schools are deemed not girl-friendly enough, or too trades-focused, or too academic-focused, or with too much physical activity or too little…..and back swings the pendulum (at a glacial speed, of course)