Reading Christina Hoff Sommers' article, "What Schools Can Do To Help Boys Succeed," reminded The Motley Monk of a dinner he enjoyed recently at the home of some friends who have four children, one girl and three rambunctious boys aged three to eight.
The childrens' parents were a bit undone by their boys' rambunctiousness, apologizing for it two times. The Motley Monk finally said, "Forget it. They're boys!"
In the 1980s, parents put their sons on Ritalin to calm rambunctiousness. But, thankfully, it seems these parents haven't.
In this regard, Hoff Sommers quotes psychologist Michael Thompson who observes that "Girl behavior is the gold standard in schools. Boys are treated like defective girls." As a result, male rambunctiousness leads teachers to underestimate their intellectual and academic abilities. Furthermore, when boys are subject to ongoing disapproval of their interests and enthusiasms, they are more likely to become disengaged. They then will lag further behind their female peers.
Elementary school teachers need to work with, not against, the kinetic imaginations of boys if they are to become educated young men. To that end, Hoff Sommers offers some research which suggests:
- Bring back recess. According to Science Daily, schoolchildren have lost close to 50% of their unstructured outdoor playtime in the past 4 decades. Today, 39% of first-graders get 20 minutes or less of daily recess.
- Teach boys to read. The trick, of course, is to have disengaged boys read materials that appeal to them! Thus...
- Unleash their imaginations. Ralph Fletcher suggests organizing assignments to contain personal narratives full of emotion and self-disclosure. Remember the movie "Stand By Me?" and how young Gordie Lachance spun real-life narratives that drew his pals right into the story? The lesson? Avoid stories describing video games, skateboard competitions, or monsters devouring cities.
Boys aren't girls and vice versa. To address boys' educational and developmental needs so they become educated young men, elementary schools educators to come to deal directly with boys as boys. Fletcher argues this requires encouraging their distinctive reading, writing, drawing, and even joke-telling propensities.
Let the discussion begin...
To read Christina Hoff Sommers' article, click on the following link:
"What Schools Can Do To Help Boys Succeed"