Where the Girls Are

Accommodating Males in the Classroom

Back in the ‘90s, the word was that schools weren’t doing enough to accommodate girls. We were told our girls would suffer permanent damage. A decade later the experts have reversed themselves. Now they say it’s the boys who are being shortchanged.

But this time, at least the talking heads are making sense. We know they’re telling the truth when they say that boys have trouble with schoolwork, repeat grades, get suspended, and end up with learning disabilities more often than girls. Let’s look at the statistics: in some schools, boys make up ¾ of the student population in special education classes. Five times more boys commit suicide, and 4-9 times more boys are being doped up with Ritalin.

Emotional Standpoint

From an emotional standpoint, things may be even worse: when students are polled, both sexes state their teachers like the girls best and that boys are disciplined more often than girls.

Girls are pulling down better grades than their male peers and more girls are taking advanced academic courses. Though boys once held the advantage in math and science, the gap has narrowed. Girls are taking the same number of advanced math courses as the guys, and even more high-level classes in chemistry and biology.

Girls have always had the advantage over the boys in literacy schools and this is still the case. In Canada, 11th grade males write as well as 8th grade girls.

Leaping Higher

In terms of higher education, female college enrollment has been ahead of male college enrollment for the past three decades, since 1980. With every leap in male college attendance, the female leap is higher. From 1997-2007, the increase in female enrollment almost doubled that of males. While male enrollment increased at a rate of 32%, female enrollment increased by almost 63%. By 2009, not quite 74% of female high school graduates were enrolled in college, while the number of male graduates enrolled in college stood at around 66%.

In an attempt to close the gap in academic achievement between men and women, educators have suggested that elementary school classrooms implement the following suggestions:

* Whenever possible, separate the sexes

* Foster better bonding between teachers and male students

* Accept that boys have more energy and channel it toward character development and learning

* Pay closer attention to the less “alpha” males: those who are more sensitive and less competitive

* Allow boys to move around during class

* Allow boys to express themselves in a physical manner. Let them hug the teacher and roughhouse during recess

* Provide positive male role models, in particular from grade 5 and above

* Chairs should not be lined up in rows prior to grade 3

* Schedule lots of storytelling time to facilitate the male brain in developing descriptive verbal skills and imagination

* Offer boys lots of objects they can touch and experience with their senses, in particular during reading and writing classes.