Do Schools Create “Problem Boys?”

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Boys don’t do as well in school as girls. On the whole, they earn lower grades and more disciplinary referrals. You will typically find more boys in detention than at the top of the class.

Are boys the problem? Is there something about masculinity, something about male biology that contributes to these disparate outcomes? Or, are schools the problem? Does the curriculum and environment somehow inhibit boys’ success?

Yes. Boys mature more slowly than their female peers, so they’re generally not as well-equipped for the challenges of school as their similarly-aged female peers. Current masculinity standards also ridicule academic achievement or effort and make it difficult for boys to ask for help. And, most school curriculum and practices don’t align well with boys’ needs.

In far too many cases, though, adults make things worse rather than better for boys in school. Adult misunderstanding of male development, coupled with intrinsic bias (and intensified by the fact that educators are now being asked to do too many things, with too few resources & too little support), causes many adults to inadvertently exacerbate boys’ problems. And that’s a problem for all of us.

Photo by Mikhail Nilov via Pexels
In this episode, Jen & Janet discuss:
  • Why boys struggle in school
  • How adults unintentially exacerabate boys’ problems
  • Setting boys up for school success (Choose a play-oriented preschool instead of an academically-oriented one!)
  • Meeting boys’ needs in school
Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode:

When Your Kid is the Classroom Problem ChildThe Cut article

Why Are Kids Being Forced to Eat Lunch in Silence?Guardian article

Schools — Not Boys — Behaving Badly — Jen’s Building Boys Bulletin about both these articles

Boys & School — Building Boys post about the black walnut incident

Moving Into the Red: Boys & Education — article by Jen about her son’s kindergarten experience

Gifted & Twice-Exception (2E) Boys — ON BOYS episode

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