Are boys needs being met in school?

Filed under: Big Kids, Tweens, Day Care & Education

Today was the first day of school for my district. The kids came tumbling down the hall and into my classroom, grinning and shy and eager..

As I watched take over the pristine room---looking for their cubbies and their desks, and reading directions together for the morning task---I was struck, as I am every year, by how differently the boys and the girls approach learning and being in school.

In general, the boys in my room have a thirst for movement---their bodies do not want to be still. They want to be touching and exploring and climbing and rolling and wiggling. They are great with spatial problem solving; but are challenged by multi-step directions.

The girls on the other hand, generally come in eager for paper and pencil tasks. They listen to directions and follow them sequentially and independently. They seek approval, and clarification when necessary. They are far more able to keep their bodies still than their male counterparts.

Before I was a mother, I was convinced that gender stereotypes were exactly that: stereotypes brought about by cultural expectations. But then I had a boy, and despite my very best efforts at gender neutrality (a yellow room, offering him a doll along with his trucks, and a kitchen along with his parking garage) my son has become very much a boy in all the typical boyish ways.

Which prompted me to wonder---if young boys are inherently boyish in the ways that they seem to be (active and in need of movement and a multi-modal approach to learning) how are our classrooms providing for their needs? The current standards driven curriculum that is a result of No Child Left Behind, has forced many teachers to narrow their focus, leaving behind some of the breadth and variety in their curriculum that accommodated for active learners.

For the first time in our history, more girls are enrolled in college. Yet boys, while they continue to generally do well at the things they've been stereotyped to be good at (math, science, etc.) are not making the vast academic gains that girls seem to be making.

Which begs the question-how has education changed? And how are boys needs being met or not met within the classroom environment?

Do you have a son in elementary school? If so, I would be very interested to hear how he his classroom environment supports-or doesn't support his learning.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.