Swashbuckling boys

Peg Tyre, the author of The Trouble with Boys, talks to Teacher Magazine about designing schools that help boys achieve.

It turns out that there is good research from the U.K. that suggests if you use phonics you can actually improve the achievement of all kids and buck the national trend by keeping boys from falling behind girls in reading. For example, in the U.K. they have begun to use an amped-up phonics program that involves manipulating refrigerator magnet letters on a magnet board, which has shown to be successful for boys. Secondly, you can sustain these achievements by getting more boy-friendly reading material in the classroom — humor, non-fiction, action, Captain Underpants, Sports Illustrated.

You can also help boys become better writers by opening up the parameters of what is an acceptable topic to write about. Many boys don’t tend to spin out narratives in their heads about relationships. Often, they are oriented around plot and action.

If noisy, active boys with swashbuckling fantasies are suppressed in school, they’ll conclude the whole enterprise is “girly,” Tyre argues.

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  1. I’ve noticed this with my 2 kids. At first, I thought that my son just didn’t like books the way his big sister did. Then I discovered that he loved them every bit as much- IF they were non-fiction ones having to do with trucks, trains, boats, airplanes, rockets, fire engines, construction machines, etc. He’s now 3 and has broadened his taste a bit to include fictional stories that feature vehicles and even the occasional one on a different topic (yay!) Hopefully, I can get him to continue to broaden his taste in books as he grows older.

  2. This applies to adults, too. Just look at the differentiation between chick flicks and action movies.

  3. Mr. Lopez says:

    No. The only difference between girls and boys is social programming. We have to get over this sexist mindset. If boys cannot hack it in schools, then they will have to be sent somewhere else or given proper medication. Girls cannot be subjugated to this nonsense of preferential treatment for boys.

  4. Science fiction (Tom Swift), spy stories, Hardy Boys, popular science, popular mechanics, the list goes on and on. All they’d have to do is ask fathers what they read when they were kids.

    Course, it would help if boys weren’t medicated for being boys, or I should say, for behaving like normal boys behave. And it would also help if all those “sincere” female teachers weren’t trying to turn the boys into a bunch of little girls.

  5. Now, wait a second. I wouldn’t go off half-cocked ready to teach such testosterone-charged books without first conferring with Oprah.