Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Boy Problem - Why Do Boys Struggle in Schools

Teachers are only too familiar with the 'boy friendly lesson'. It seems that you get that extra pat on the back if you ensure that the lesson appeals to boys in particular. It also appears that schools are absolutely addicted to solving the 'boy problem' in school. There is, admittedly, a problem with boys in school. But an investigation into why boys struggle in schools provides one clear answer: they are not mature enough to appreciate education. Schools, in a nut shell, need to make the relevance of school abundantly clear for boys: the message needs to be blunt and striking. Either mature or lose out.

Let's take group work. I am an advocate of group work with students, and feel that students learn a great deal from each other. However, when I often ask a class to work in groups there are two clear divisive groups: the mature, encouraging and proactive girls with the subdued, arms crossed and silent boys. Boys just do not want to know in situations like this.

Boys are also very keen to make others laugh. They risk detentions, failing exams and telling offs just to raise a laugh from children they probably never talk to outside of class. Why? Because they are rebelling against what they see as pointless lessons, in pointless days and pointless weeks that fill up pointless years.

Boys in particular are encouraged to escape in a world that is simply not there. From computer games to television programmes to songs, boys are offered a life that is so very appealing but that is also so very unrealistic. Boys may fantasise about becoming footballers, great army generals or gangsters. Are any of these attributes realistic or going to help forge a character that society can be proud of? Of course not. Do any of these attributes encourage maturity, logic and reason? Of course not. Then why are we surprised when boys do not have the maturity that they so badly need?

This point needs to be made very clear to boys. If they do not respond they are going to fail. If they do not mature they are going to fail. If they do not try to engage in lessons and assessments then they will be lost in the abyss that is the working world.

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