I recently gave a talk about teaching to boys and I want to tell you about it. Because we have a problem. Our problem is that girls are succeeding. For years we women spent time arguing that women were failing in schools. The statistics are strong, fewer women were attending college, fewer women were completing college, and fewer women were holding jobs in the workplace (and held those jobs with a lower salary). But when we look at the past couple years in lower educational settings a different picture emerges. I read a interesting report published by AAUW (American Association of University Women). In this report they gave lots of information gathered by the National Assessment of Educational Progress which lives under the “National Center for Educational Statistics” who are a subset of U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences. So the data ought to be trusted. Here is one such graph from their report comparing High School grade point averages.
The girls are now outperforming the boys. More importantly you need to know that girls earn more credits than boys in high school science and math AND they have a higher combined GPA in these courses. The girls are definitely succeeding in the academic world we have created with clear objectives and transparent teaching. In all the articles I read about gender segregation in classrooms, the authors spent >65% talking about girls and how girls learn. Pretty much the only thing we can say about how boys learn is that it is “not” like the girls. Can’t we learn more about boys to get away from the negation statements? What’s more, the articles all agreed on one item. Gender segregation is great for the girls, but doesn’t effect boys learning at all. I think this just means that we know how to cater to girls, but we can’t cater to the boys.
I’m a liberal woman, I grew up in strong female influences and attended an undergraduate woman’s college. I really believe in single sex education; I think it is a great environment to teach women because women learn more in all women classes. I would love for it to also be true that men learn more in all-male classrooms. Wouldn’t it be awful if men really needed women to succeed? I’m a feminist, but I just can’t believe that men can’t succeed on their own. I’m starting to think we are doing our men a great disservice by not knowing more about how they learn. And so I naively ask, “What about the boys?” When are we going to show them some educational love?