Chapter 11: School
Headline: “Boy Problems” New York Times Magazine, April 3 2005 pg278
Boy problems have always been a problem in school, revolving around disciplinary problems
created by boys behaviour, however the “boy problems discussed in Ann Hulbert’s article
resolve around boys lagging in academic achievement behind girls. Up until the 1980’s girls
were the ones that lagged behind in school as a result during that decade programs were
implemented to help girls get interested in subjects especially math and sciences. Boys still often
excel in sports but may now lag behind in other areas. It has been argued that in order to better
serve girls schools have shortchanged boys.
The School Experience 278
Even before children start school boys and girls are treated differently; even if the child doesn’t
conform to gender stereotypes they know what is expected of them by age 4 or 5. Thus by the
time the child reaches preschool they already know what is expected of them and schools often
The IX of the Education Amendments of 1972: The Federal act that prohibited educational
institutions that receive federal funds from discriminating on the basis of gender.
Although the lass now prohibit sex discrimination in schools, a number of problem areas remain,
especially in athletics. In the 1980’s and 1990’s attention to gender equality in education focused
on girls and how schools may fail to meet their needs. This attention prompted a backlash such
as the headline discussed at the beginning of this chapter. Teachers have become aware of this
controversy and try to treat their students equally however they hold gender stereotypes and this
makes treating children of both sexes the same difficult.
The inequitable treatment of students in relation to their gender has many roots one of which is
gender equity is not a large part of the curriculum for prospective teachers nor is it a frequent
topic for in service teachers. Diversity in education has been a major topic for reform but gender
equality has not.
Gendered Voices: Treated Like a King
A young male elementary teacher is thought of as sensitive by his ex girlfriends due to the fact
that he is good with kids. He gets lots of attention from the female teachers at his school because
he is the one of two male teachers in his school. He sees that the children are starved for male
attention so he is emotionally available. He enjoys what he is doing and has no interest in joining
Early Schooling 280
Teachers promoting gender stereotypes can begin very early in the school experience and may
occur even in teachers who do not realize that they are treating girls and boys differently.
Children practice gender segregation and teachers allow and sometimes encourage this
separation. Due to the fact that only 2% of elementary school teachers are male the male teacher
must portray stereotypical as well as atypical behaviours. The predominance of female elementary school teachers has led to the myth that early education
environment meets the needs of girls better than boys. However the American Association of
University Women argued that the opposite is true; early schooling consists of activities in which
girls have more proficiency then boys, giving boys more training in skills they lack which
ignoring the skills that girls lack. To benefit from the lessons that school presents, boys must be
quiet, pay attention, and concentrate. For most boys this behaviour is out of line with the gender
role they are developing. Boys tend to receive more attention than girls, but much of that
attention is oriented towards boys’ misbehaviour and academic problems. Few gender
differences exist during the early years, but those problems that do exist are in the favour of the
girls. In the elementary school years socioeconomic status is more predictive of school
achievement than gender (the wealthier you are the better you o in school).
Several factors combine to predict academic success and to explain gender differences
during elementary school (and beyond). Girls’ are more responsive to social cues and to adults’
requests, more self disciplined, and better able to delay self gratification. Failing to comply with
adults requests is likely to create problems and boys are more likely to behave in this way.
Boys are more likely than girls to receive referrals to special education services and this gender
difference has led to the suspicion that gender discrimination may be operating.
Changes during Middle School282
The gender differences that emerge during middle school and junior high school relate more
strongly to attitudes than to achievement and more to interests and preferences than to abilities.
Girls show interest in science activities, but boys are more likely to participate in and perform
science (such as using a microscope).
Gender equality is not a major focus of teacher training or for most school systems, but some
schools have made gender equity a focus. Unfortunately, even when teachers and administrator
believe that they are offering girls and boys equal treatment, observations of classrooms and
interviews with students tell a different story. Single sex classrooms have only small benefits at
best and no advantages for most students.
High School 284
High school represents a significant change for adolescents both in educational and social terms;
the social environment revolves around school activities and heterosexuality. Adolescent girls
may believe that they will combine a family with paid employment but understand that having
children when they are young will affect their educational attainment. Boys do not see how
children might affect their educational attainment.
Physical appearance and athletic prowess are important for students (physical appearance is more
important for girls and athletic prowess is more important for boys.