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Division 51 of the American Psychological Association launched a Task Force on Boys in School in 2020.
Boys do worse in school, on average, than girls. Boys are more likely to be disciplined, suspended, or expelled than girls — even when their behavior is similar. They’re also less likely to graduate or go on to college and graduate from college.
These facts aren’t new. Boys have been struggling for decades.
“We are very late to the game,” says Christopher Reigeluth, PhD, an assistant professor in the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Oregon Health and Science University and chair of the Boys in School task force. “Lots of people are late to the game in this regard. I can take some pride in the fact that we got this task force going and are trying to build awareness of this decades-long issue.”
Why It’s Taken So Long to Address Boys’ Issues in School
Because men still predominate in positions of power, many people assume boys are doing just fine.
“The light doesn’t get shined on boys and men for their difficulties, issues, and mental health struggles the way that it needs to, and those things can get overlooked. And have been overlooked for a long time,” Chris says. Additionally, he says, “the ‘guy code’ doesn’t want there to be acknowledgment of the fact that boys suffer, or boys feel vulnerability and have weaknesses and insecurities, even though everyone does.”
Why Boys Struggle in School
Educators’ perceptions (and expectations) of boys affect boys’ educational experiences. “Boys as a group experience implicit biases against them,” Chris says.
He also believes that boys’ socialization leads many of them to devalue school and education. “A lot of that comes from messages they get about how they should be as guys, and what society tells them is appropriate versus not appropriate behavior,” he says. Boys’ beliefs about masculinity can exacerbate their issues with school.
What the Task Force is Doing – & What You Can Do
The task force has created (and is disseminating) a variety of fact sheets:
- Exploring Boys’ (Mis)Behavior
- Learning Disabilities
- High Achieving Boys
Parents and others concerned about boys should vote for school board members and legislators who care about boys’ issues and education. We can also communicate the importance of education to our boys.Schools and teachers must also create safe, welcoming spaces for boys.
In this episode, Jen, Janet, & Chris discuss:
- Chris’ experience as a boy in school
- Parenting “underperforming” boys
- What teachers (don’t) learn about boys
- Implicit bias against boys
- How race and gender affect boys’ schooling
- How parents and educators can help boys in school
Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode:
www.division51.net/taskforce-on-boys-in-school — Task Force website
chrisreigeluth.com — Chris’ website
The Gender Equation in Schools — ON BOYS episode
How Microschools & Black Moms May End the School to Prison Pipeline — ON BOYS episode
Forest Schools Get Boys Learning Naturally — ON BOYS episode
Homeschool Hacks & How to Homeschool Boys –– ON BOYS episode
Emails & Phone Calls from Teachers — ON BOYS episode
How to Raise a Boy with Michael C. Reichert — ON BOYS episode
The Masculinity Workbook for Teens: Discover What Being a Guy Means to You — workbook by Chris
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