Boys just want to be boys

Boys are different from girls, writes Conn Iggulden, co-author of The Dangerous Book for Boys, in the Washington Post. A former teacher, Iggulden thinks boys fail in school when they’re taught like girls.

Boys don’t like group work. They do better on exams than they do in coursework, and they don’t like class discussion. In history lessons, they prefer stories of Rome and of courage to projects on the suffragettes.

It’s all a matter of balance. When I was a teacher, I asked my head of department why every textbook seemed to have a girl achieving her dream of being a carpenter while the boys were morons. She replied that boys had had it their own way for too long, and now it was the girls’ turn. Ouch.

. . . The dark side of masculinity may involve gangs and aggression, but there’s another side — self-discipline, wry humor and quiet determination.

Looking back, the belief that girls need more support to succeed in school seems odd. It’s the boys who are struggling.

About Joanne

Comments

  1. Barry Garelick says:

    Looking back, the belief that girls need more support to succeed in school seems odd. It’s the boys who are struggling.

    Uh-oh; don’t tell Sara Mead.

  2. Ragnarok says:

    Finally, some common sense.

  3. Deirdre Mundy says:

    I know several men who had a horrible time in school and who’ve excelled in the military — even when they were sent to class….

    I asked one of them why military classes were better than highschool classes…. he explained they were intense, meaty and didn’t have ANY busy work. Just 6 weeks of working VERY hard to master a subject….

    For some reason, three-week-long assignments involving markers, posterboard and glue don’t appeal to many high-school guys….

    And it’s gotten even worse since a bunch of history teachers discovered scrapbooking and began having the kids do scrapbooks (in the cutesy style usually reserved for new babies and puppies) in lieu of exams……..

    Many colleges are also anti-boy… my brother went to a major state school and was required to take a course on “Gender Relations..” I’m sure you can imagine how thrilled he was…..

  4. She replied that boys had had it their own way for too long, and now it was the girls’ turn.

    One of my own pet peeves: plenty of “feminists” seem much more interested in revenge than equality.

  5. I can’t help reading these “boys learn differently from girls” pieces in reverse. Because whatever the piece above is saying about boys, it’s also saying “Girls like group work. They do better on course work than on exams. They prefer projects on the suffragettes to stories of Rome and of courage.” And the result is demands for gender-segregated classrooms, where the girls can learn in “girls’ ways”–group projects, feelings-based discussions on girl-lit and girl-history, while the boys do tough-minded, individualistic direct learning of math, science, and topics of actual historical and literary importance.

    No, thanks. I’ll keep on homeschooling my girls, who oddly (perhaps they’re not *real* girls?) prefer math, hard science, stories of knights and heroes, and the essentially solitary and individualistic life of the mind.

  6. The hook that I use to get my (usually boys) students into ancient history is the military battles and weaponry. For my (usually girls) other students, I usually discuss how during ancient times, many women didn’t have the same rights as men and I’ll focus on some of the women who were the exceptions.

    However, I usually have a group of kids who are equally fascinated by the architecture or the development of language over time. It’s interesting when I give a test, which usually includes some type of short essay questions. I can usually tell which part they got hooked in on because their essay answers are more detailed on the parts they found interesting.

  7. Huh. Guess I must be a boy, then, because I loathed “group work” with a white-hot fury. And I usually kicked butt on exams, but had a harder time with the picky detail-work of daily homework assignments.

    Whenever anyone talks about “girl learning” and “boy learning” I think of that episode of The Simpsons where Lisa had to disguise herself as a boy in order to get away from the squishy, “How do you feeeeeeeel about even numbers?” type of teaching that was promoted as being “girl friendly.”

    Oh, I also never would have said, “Math is hard.” I would have been a lot more likely to say, “Math is cool.”

  8. don shellings says:

    i got stuck in three gender studies classes in college. worst things a guy could ever go through. ultra discussion, group art projects, and more discussion (i call it circle mastur******)…not on theory, but on how your boyfriend treated you with disrespect by holding (or not holding) the door open on your dates. my grades in those classes? B-, C+, C-. My GPA if you remove those grades? 3.6. (now a senior)

    i went to high school in sjusd and thought the books we had to read were pretty equally bent in terms of gendered interest. Except junior year, where we spent nearly the entire year on romanticism and transcendentalism. Imagine twelve weeks on the scarlet letter, ethan frome, and pride and prejudice… *shudders*

  9. Half Canadian says:

    Can people PLEASE realize that when people are referring to group behavior, they are referencing probability, trends, etc., and NOT making absolute statements. Yes, there are girls who are good at math and boys who like working in groups. But it is entirely consistent to recognize trends, such as boys being better at math or girls preferring group activities, and not questioning your sex.

    It’s not a hard concept ricki and o.h.. Didn’t you ever learn about these concepts?

  10. Half Canadian,
    We sometimes disagree here, but we tend to mind our manners and treat one another with respect. I wouldn’t question Ricki’s intelligence, she could probably embarrass you.

  11. Andy Freeman says:

    > Can people PLEASE realize that when people are referring to group behavior, they are referencing probability, trends, etc., and NOT making absolute statements.

    Not so fast.

    The underlying data may be probabilities, but some people do in fact treat all XXs as if they conformed to the XX probabilities and all XYs as if they conformed to the XY probabilities.

    Some of the offenders are even “good people”.

    I’ll bet that ricki can tell us stories about how she was incorrectly pidgeonholed on account of her XX by PC folk.

  12. Tracy W says:

    they prefer stories of Rome and of courage to projects on the suffragettes.

    Going on a hunger strike or throwing yourself in front of the Prince of Wales’ racing horse isn’t courageous?

  13. Andy Freeman says:

    > Going on a hunger strike or throwing yourself in front of the Prince of Wales’ racing horse isn’t courageous?

    Not to a little boy who was just broken of holding his breath until he gets his way.

    The latter sounds especially dumb. If you have a beef with the prince, have it out with him. Hurting his horse is just mean.

  14. Boys aren’t suffering per se. However, they are experiencing the ill effects of the change in teacher quality. Most teachers aren’t terribly bright themselves, value effort and good behavior more than abilities, and thus grade accordingly. Now that affirmative action makes grades a critical aspect of college admissions, boys are more likely to suffer the effects of these idiots and their priorities.

    But they’re hardly suffering a great deal. Most of the statistics are nonsense.

  15. Well, I was actually being facetious. I understand very well the idea that the generalized characteristics of a group do not apply to all the group members.

    All kids learn differently and the problem is when you’ve got a classroom of 30 (or more in some cases) it’s really hard to teach so they all learn well.

    Or, then again, maybe women are just really bad at making something come across as mildly sarcastic humor in an internet post?

    😉

    (Maybe I need to use smilies?)

    (Still: I L*O*A*T*H*E*D group work. Because invariably I wound up in the group with me, a bossy kid who wanted it all done his/her way, and two slackers. And so the choice was to “carry” the slackers or get a bad grade, and acquiesce to the bossy kid or else waste all our time arguing.

    I suppose some might argue that’s good training for the world of cubicle-work and middle management – dealing with slackers and “do it my way or the high way” types. But all I learned was that I preferred to work alone.)

  16. Deirdre Mundy

    A large part of initial military training is teaching them to work together, another part is learning to obey and be proud of obedient behavior. After that teaching them and training them to do other things is easy. Another reason military training is successful is that they are older and more mature than they were when they started high school. Still another reason is they remove those who refuse to conform.

  17. Andy Freeman says:

    BTW – Hurting the Prince’s horse is also cowardly; why should a sterotypical boy see any virtue in that?

    And no, willingness to be hurt while doing it doesn’t make it virtuous.

  18. I suppose some might argue that’s good training for the world of cubicle-work and middle management – dealing with slackers and “do it my way or the high way” types. Only if higher management is incompetent, which means you’re best off if you find another job before the layoffs start… Competent management gets rid of the slackers and those that won’t work well with others.