Here in the United States, educational deficiencies lead to other problems. Boys are more likely to be suspended from school, be involved with gangs and violence, and much more likely to be arrested. In order to help our boys, we have to change our schools.
How can we improve outcomes for boys, while not diminishing achievement for girls?
There seems to be agreement on a few possible explanations, with associated solutions to this problem. Here are three things we can do to improve educational outcomes for boys.
1. Attract more men to elementary education. As a society, we have been reluctant to accept men as teachers of young children. Walk into almost any preschool or elementary school in the United States, and you are likely to see all or nearly all teachers are women. I have personally worked in several schools where there were no, or maybe just one or two, men in the classrooms. Much more work needs to be done in this area so that boys will have good role models in their early academic lives, and schools will reflect practices and cultures that are more conducive to learning for boys.
A faculty that includes women AND men will be good for boys AND girls.
2. Include more movement into the daily school routine and schedule. Every day in most schools, we are asking children to do things they are not naturally inclined to do. Kids just don't want to sit still. This is even more true for boys than it is for girls. Can you imagine sitting on a hard, wooden chair at a little desk for hours on end? This is what is expected of elementary school children. We need to closely examine classroom routines and daily schedules in schools to ensure there is plenty of movement throughout the day to foster learning.
A day full of movement is good for boys AND girls.
3. Ensure that reading selections are interesting to boys. Students are not always offered a wide selection of reading materials. Sometimes boys just don't find books that are interesting to them. As a result, boys tend to read independently much less than girls, which prevents them from improving their skills. Since almost all elementary teachers and librarians are women, they don't always gravitate to books that may be more appealing to boys. It is also interesting to note that girls are often more excited about books that are more appealing to girls such as superheroes or gross things.
A wider variety of reading materials is good for boys AND girls.
Working toward these three things will allow boys and girls to improve reading skills, and allow boys to find the success that has eluded them in our schools.