A new report focusing on the gender gap in education has found that boys in Canada spend less time doing their homework than their female peers.
Using data from international tests given to students by the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development showed that boys in Canada spend an average of 4.6 hours each week completing homework assignments, whereas girls in the country were found to spend 6.4 hours each week on homework. The OECD average for the over 30 countries included is 4.2 hours for boys and 5.5 hours for girls.
In addition, boys were found to be less likely to spend time reading or admit to enjoying school than girls, or even arrive to school on time.
Girls, on the other hand, have a higher likelihood of having anxiety when it comes to math, which Indigo Esmonde, a professor at the University of Toronto’s faculty of education, said can be an issue for high achievers because, “Being good at math is a bigger part of their identities,” and that girls, “face stereotypes about not being mathematically smart, and often have to work harder to be respected. So, there are higher stakes for girls.”
Roberta Bondar Public School in Brampton has decided to ensure that the needs of both sexes are met equally by offering single-sex classes in addition to mixed-gender courses for grades 7 and 8.
Grade 7 boys’ teacher David Tran said the homework he assigns each day returns to school the following day completed.
“I also provide feedback and have a reward system” where students can earn a free period or treats, he said. “… I think the consistency is helping because they know clearly that every day I check their homework. I don’t skip.”
Tran works together with teacher-librarian Maria Cook in finding non-fiction reading material for the boys in his class, a genre the boys all agree they enjoy reading. The pair runs a small group book talk allowing the boys to discuss their reading freely, which also helps to increase their interest in reading and discussion.
Meanwhile, grade 7 girls’ teacher Jenna Zack said she works hard to create a “strong sense of community” within her classroom, allowing the girls to feel more secure and able to raise their hands to answer math questions or to accept constructive criticism.
Math instruction in Zack’s classroom revolves around group work and problems associated with everyday life, such as measurements for cooking. Zack said she has never had an issue with homework.
“They actually love homework,” she added. “They want more homework than I give them, and I give them homework every day. They’ve been asking me since Monday if I can give them homework during the March Break.”