What is it with males?

What is it with boys? They can’t do right for wrong it seems!
Another report, another set of data showing boys lagging behind girls! The headlines are usually about writing. This report goes beyond the one subject and looks at their interest in school, whether they are happy, talk in class and are tired in the mornings. The study by the Institute of Education,  London interviewed over 14,000 children. The data is looking at developments between 2000 – 2002.
So what is it about the boys? How come among top entrepreneurs, designers, engineers, scientists (the list goes on) the male of the species can be found? Does this  mean they have to play ‘catch up ‘ at some time?
In a very energetic debate on Twitter a while ago the topic of ‘What is different between the ways in which boys and girls learn?  fully explored the whys and wherefores. The question I ask is – Does it matter? I think this holds the key to this apparent failure of boy’s early learning. We seem to be very keen in this country to have a one size fits all for so many things. Another interesting thread is here from LinkedIn which looks at adult learners. It seems it is still aproblem when we grow up!
Speaking with a friend who is involved in teacher training I expressed the view that the Colleges needed to provide more in the way of training in learning styles. Apparently, the thinking is that it is schools that create the learning environment and the approaches to learning within them.
However, wouldn’t you know it; the boys come up trumps in this article.
Male teachers seem to be able to produce better results according to this small study. This was borne out by a friend whose son has made brilliant progress with his new male teacher. Is this perhaps the reason that in the past only men were allowed into the profession? Is this where education has gone wrong – allowing females into the hallows of academia (tongue firmly in cheek!)
Sarcasm aside, it is also about society’s perception – you know all that Venus and Mars stuff!. When I first became a head teacher the school gate gossip was that there was no way I would stay because I was not a man. ‘Women can’t do that sort of a job because it takes discipline.’ This was only 13 years ago so we’re not talking dark ages!
So Dear Reader – what are your views? Are you the parent of a ‘failing’ boy? Would having a male teacher help? Teachers – what do you do with all those apparently disinterested boys?

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  • Anonymous

    Thanks for writing/highlighting a post that feature today: http://bit.ly/bhbxcp

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  • Anonymous

    I’m amazed that this is based on a study carried out back in 2000-2002 – when I was at university from 2002-2005 we considered anything pre 2000 prehistoric then! We live in times that are a changing: imagine how much classroom practice has changed since the study was carried out… I wonder if any of the change in practice has catered to boys’ learning styles?

    • Anonymous

      Maybe they’ll do a follow-up! I was interested in the comment from Uni about it being more down to the school than the course to cover LS.

      • Anonymous

        It would be interesting to see a follow up. Interesting point re the LS… difficult one as good individuals will have it covered but some direction would surely not go amiss for those for whom it comes less naturally?

  • I think it’s incredibly positive for there to be male teachers in primary school. Monkey has had benefit of some time with the deputy headteacher (male) who for various reasons, doesn’t have a class this year. He’s been doing intensive work with small groups from different years on reading and writing (he is Literacy Subject Leader). Monkey – and all the other boys – didn’t stop talking about him the whole time and Monkey kept taking things in to show him. And they did so well – they were doing well anyway but their progress was just stunning. He has moved onto a different group now but will be working with them again after Christmas.
    I think a good teacher is a good teacher regardless of gender but I do think it helps for young boys to have male teachers around them. Like Dave says, it is a role model/influence thing. Monkey definitely hero worships older males – be they older children or grown ups – so good role models in school are going to have a big impact.

  • The head at the school my children attend is female and she’s absolutely brilliant, I wouldn’t change for ten men.
    Both of my boys really respond well to male teachers (although there are very few) but the female teachers are every bit as good (if not better).
    For the boys I think it’s a role model thing. Mine seem to be influenced more by their male teachers than by me – but perhaps that’s just my jealously kicking in there? 🙂

    • Anonymous

      Possibly Dave! 😉 I agree about the role model aspect. There is also that element of intrigue as well. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Marcus Belben

    I would disagree with last comment strongly, and think ‘genderised’ learning may mirror problems in society, but lets down our boys and girls, particularly those boys and girls who do not fall into our stereotypes.
    I have two boys and a girl and can see individual differences in the way they learn, and can see how different learning styles will suit them. All my children do well at school – My eldest boy has many typical ‘female’ learning traits and interests associated with girls, while my next boy is more what many would describe as ‘boysy’. Both are treated individually to suit their learning in school, doing well academically, have no problems socialising with boys and girls (shock horror!) and will be in the best position to cope with our society when they leave school.
    Our biggest concern is that in our area there are a lot of state secondary single sex schools which we don’t think will adequately educate our children, either more generally in working with different people, and by pandering to educational apartheid carrying favour once again in our schools, limiting their learning experience and ultimately their opportunities in life.
    From your own experience as a head teacher, I’m sure you will recognise the importance of having good teaching staff – their gender is unimportant.

    • Anonymous

      Thank you so much for your excellent comments. I agree entirely about a good teacher is a good teacher is a good teacher! I didn’t mean to imply that I agreed with the gender model for learning – far from it. Children are individuals and must be treated as such.That tkaes up back to that good teacher doesn’t it!

  • Tara

    Actually I’m the mother of a boy who is really thriving at school (he’s nearly 8).
    He’s not had a male teacher, but the previous 2 female teachers he had were very strict and ruled with an iron fist when anyone stepped out of line (which at this age when they’re giggling and trumping and distracted by anything and everything out the window!)
    But he adored them and his love of learning has only grown and his progress to match.
    Both teachers recognised that teaching boys required different methods and managed to do just that even in a mixed classroom.
    He’s now way ahead of the national average but is there because he loves it not because he’s being particularly pushed.
    So in my experience, I don’t necessarily think it’s a male/female teacher thing, I think it’s an individual teacher thing: those who recognise the differences get results.

    • Anonymous

      You are so lucky that things are working well at school. I totally agree that it is the skill of the teacher that brings success. If they understand each child they will get them working well. Many thanks for popping in and sharing!

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