Boys can learn without male teachers

To help boys succeed, elementary schools are trying to hire more male teachers, writes Valerie Strauss in the Washington Post.

That’s not the strategy used by schools that do a good job of educating boys, writes Richard Whitmire, now blogging on Why Boys Fail in Education Week.  In his new book, also Why Boys Fail, he profiles a Delaware elementary school and a KIPP charter school in Washington DC that educate low-income minority boys.

Neither school paid much attention to the gender of the teachers. Rather, they had teaching staffs infused with a sports fanatic-like devotion to ensuring no child was just passed along without learning what needed to be learned.

Reading is being taught at earlier ages. Whitmire thinks teachers are passing boys along with poor reading skills, telling parents the boys will catch up. But some never do.

My travels suggest that rethinking how to teach boys literacy skills in the very early grades would be a far more effective remedy than vacuuming up more male teachers.

Male teachers “can make a character-building difference” in urban schools, he adds.

Whitmire’s book is out next week. While you’re ordering a copy, stock up on my book. (If you want an autographed copy of the hardcover, e-mail me at joanne at joannejacobs dot com.)

About Joanne