Stop Penalizing Boys for Not Being Able to Sit Still at School, writes Jessica Lahey, who teaches middle school, in The Atlantic.
“Something is rotten in the state of boys’ education,” she starts. Boys are kept back at twice the rate of girls, according to Reaching Boys, Teaching Boys: Strategies That Work and Why. Boys are “diagnosed with learning disorders and attention problems at nearly four times the rate of girls,” do less homework, earn lower grades and drop out of high school in higher numbers. Only 43 percent of college students are male.
Many teachers and school administrators think “boys are too fidgety, too hyperactive, too disruptive, derailing the educational process for everyone while sabotaging their own intellectual development,” Lahey writes.
Peek into most American classrooms and you will see desks in rows, teachers pleading with students to stay in their seats and refrain from talking to their neighbors. Marks for good behavior are rewarded to the students who are proficient at sitting still for long periods of time. Many boys do not have this skill.
What works for boys? Teaching Boys: A Global Study of Effective Practices recommends lessons: that result in an end product (a booklet, a catapult, a poem, a comic strip), that are structured as competitive games, that require movement, that require boys to assume responsibility for the learning of others, that address open questions or unsolved problems, that combine competition and teamwork, that focus on independent, personal discovery and realization and that introduce drama in the form of novelty or surprise.
In short, ‘the most effective way to teach boys is to take advantage of that high energy, curiosity, and thirst for competition,” Lahey concludes. And it’s not as if girls can’t learn from these sort of lessons.