When it comes to academics, boys are falling behind, writes Lisa Stiegman for ChicagoNow. A recent raft of stories in education blogosphere and traditional media outlets has people asking what exactly about the classroom environment that makes it less hospitable to boys.
The problem isn’t new. According to Stiegman, the number of men enrolling in college has been falling for the past four decades, and increasingly, boys are also under-performing girls in standardized testing. Some have said that the academic environment rewards skills such as ability to communicate clearly verbally and in writing, which is something that favors women over men. There’s also the hypothesis that boys need more breaks to shed energy during the school day in order to sit still and pay attention in class, especially now as the school days are getting longer.
The take away I got from the dean was that males think “academic disengagement is more manly.”
It’s not cool to be smart.
It’s not cool to be engaged.
It’s not cool to do homework.
I remember my son’s middle school teacher saying at a conference how important is was to “not lose the boys”. I didn’t see this as a problem, but as the year went on, I began to understand what she meant as those middle school attitudes grew. This is more than a middle school phase though- what the trends show is more like a culture shift.
One proposed solution that is gaining in popularity is single-sex education. Since the U.S. Department of Education relaxed the restrictions against separating boys and girls into separate classrooms in public schools, more principals are trying it in the hope of erasing the education sex-gap. Since ten years ago, the number of schools experimenting with single-sex classrooms has increased from a dozen to nearly 500.
Parents of boys who are looking for guidance on this issue can turn to a recently released Swagger: 10 Urgent Rules for Raising Boys in an Era of Failing Schools, Mass Joblessness and Thus Culture. The book, written by Lisa Bloom, lays out steps for parents to follow to make sure that their sons aren’t being left behind.
The title refers to the attitude that has been instilled in boys that they are “all that”. Men and boys in this country rate themselves higher in their actual abilities and intelligence levels than they really are….hence the swagger. The author says parents need to help boys see that hard work is the where self -esteem comes from. Swaggeroffers ten rules to follow to help us raise our sons from topics such as jobs, drugs, media literacy, respect, and college.