Monday, May 12, 2014

Boy Falling

This morning on NPR's  On Point with Tom Ashbrook the topic of discussion was "Struggling Boys on the Way to the Workplace". The focus of the discussion addressed two primary issues, the changing nature of the workplace and the changes in the way we educate children and young adults in our systems of education. The expert in the studio for this latter issue was Peg Tyre, author of The Trouble with Boys. You know when an issue is becoming a national crisis when it begins to appear with increasing regularity in the popular media such as NPR and the New York Times as opposed to just education journals.

I've been aware of this issue for some time since my work supervising student teachers takes me into many different elementary school classrooms almost on a daily basis. In some of the kindergarten through fourth grade classrooms I have worked in  during the past five or so years, the time I have noticed the difference, the behavior between boys and girls in general has been so different that sometimes I have had to ask the cooperating teacher what is happening. I remember one class in particular several years ago where the behavior of the boys was quite astonishing  to say the least. It seemed to be worse during transition time when they would move in strange ways  and make strange noises; I kid you not. The teacher, an incredibly resourceful and responsive person, came up with a solution that worked a treat. During the transitions she had all the students quietly sing a song they had all learned. In another kindergarten class I worked in recently almost all the boys were on some sort of behavior plan.

As the NPR program points out the issue doesn't seem confined to the elementary school. High schools are finding it more difficult to keep male students focused on the work required to make it into college. Even at the College and University level things seem to be different. At a recent senior academic award ceremony I attended, all but one of  those students receiving awards, as identified by faculty  members, were female students. The one male student receiving an award was where both a male and female athlete received awards. 

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