Boys at School

February 4, 2013 | Karin

When I speak on campus, I often ask the students about the sex ratio. Women outnumber men on many of the campuses I have visited and the students are quick to point that out. Usually, women voice the loudest complaints, expressing frustration at the impact the sex ratio has on their dating lives. Christina Hoff Sommers, author of two books on the NeW Book List, Who Stole Feminism? and The War Against Boys, has an opinion piece out in the New York Times addressing boys and education, The Boys at the Back. She writes:

Boys score as well as or better than girls on most standardized tests, yet they are far less likely to get good grades, take advanced classes or attend college. Why? A study coming out this week in The Journal of Human Resources gives an important answer. Teachers of classes as early as kindergarten factor good behavior into grades – and girls, as a rule, comport themselves far better than boys.

Sommers discusses the disparity in educational achievement between the sexes today and traces the history that has led us here. She then offers some examples of efforts to help boys do better in school. She writes:

WHAT might we do to help boys improve? For one thing, we can follow the example of the British, the Canadians and the Australians. They have openly addressed the problem of male underachievement. They are not indulging boys’ tendency to be inattentive. Instead, they are experimenting with programs to help them become more organized, focused and engaged. These include more boy-friendly reading assignments (science fiction, fantasy, sports, espionage, battles); more recess (where boys can engage in rough-and-tumble as a respite from classroom routine); campaigns to encourage male literacy; more single-sex classes; and more male teachers (and female teachers interested in the pedagogical challenges boys pose).

I encourage you to read the piece and think about what we can do to make sure that our education policies are helping to advance both sexes.

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