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tv with legs
i found this article on msn, and it caught my attention, well...because it does seems like (while i was in elm and part of middle) that the teachers seem to be harder on boys. ohmy.gif


""Do Teachers Dislike Boys?
by Jeanne Sather
Could it be true that some teachers just don't like boys? When I raised this question just briefly in another column, a flood of e-mail came pouring in.

Some readers told me I was all wet, and that this was a ridiculous idea. Others pointed to research that shows that teachers actually pay more attention to boys, shortchanging girls in the process.

And then there were the messages from parents, fathers and mothers both, who felt that their children had been treated badly at school specifically because they were boys. "It is almost as if the boys' presence is less appreciated, and even burdensome," wrote the mother of a young boy.

mailbox
A father writes about his youngest son, a rowdy seven-year-old who loves to laugh and make other people laugh, too. This father had his son change teachers because the teacher punished the child academically for incidents that happened on the playground.

"I tried to explain to her that his behavior on the playground was certainly worthy of punishment, but it should not conflict with his learning time," the father says. "She actually refused him a test, saying that throwing sand on the playground meant he got a zero."

The father happened to be at school to witness the incident that was the last straw: "As I approached, my son and another boy were giggling as they walked in line. The teacher yelled at [my son], who instantly turned and walked in line, but the other boy shoved him as they passed a trash can and he fell against it. The teacher yanked him up by his arm and practically dragged him along until they got to class. Once at the class, she had him stand against the wall outside of the door and told him that he did not deserve to be allowed in with the other students (including the boy who pushed him!)."

The father went to his son, hugged him, and then told the school office staff that he had witnessed the incident and was taking the boy out for ice cream. There, they had a long talk about behaving at school, and the boy told him, "Dad, I try my best, but she hates me. I can never do anything right for her."
Other voices
Alyssa Jenkins, a high school teacher and the mother of two young boys, writes, "I am beginning to agree with you that many teachers do not like boys, although I rarely see that at the high school level. I think it's more of an elementary school thing."

Jenkins says that she talked to a kindergarten teacher about this recently and was told, "Because some teachers are exasperated with trying to control boys' energy, they [sometimes] recommend holding a boy back until his body catches up with his brain."

This teacher also told Jenkins that if all a young boy hears all day are comments like "Sit down" and "Stop that," he may be labeled as a problem child and his self-esteem could suffer.

Jenkins says a first-grade teacher raised another issue that causes problems for some boys: turning kindergarten into first grade. "Kindergarten is supposed to be a transition year," she writes, "and by asking children to already know how to ‘do school,' the system disadvantages boys, who mature slower than girls."

A fifth-grade teacher and father who lives in rural Iowa writes, "As far as teachers disliking boys, I think that is too general a statement. A teacher is going to be ‘annoyed' or ‘inconvenienced' by any student that is disruptive in the classroom, whether it is a boy or girl."

He says teachers need better "people skills" and need to learn tolerance and patience in dealing with all students. But he added that a supportive parent plays an important role in how these "difficult" students are handled in class.

He also points out that the teacher's gender, whether or not that teacher has children, and the gender of those children all are factors that can influence how a teacher relates to boys. "Having two boys ages three and five makes me a bit more tolerant of the behavior of boys because I deal with it daily and have managed to acquire skills to obtain the behaviors I think are appropriate," he writes. "This does not always work with other people's kids, but it is always worth a try."

Part II: Is Boyhood a Disease?
I have two boys and neither one has ever had a teacher who I thought disliked him, or who made him feel bad about being a boy.

However, I have come to believe that elementary school is a very female-centric environment, one that does not suit many young boys very well. My older son went all the way through elementary school without once having a male teacher, and the younger one did not have a male teacher until fifth grade.

Akira, my older son, was bored and frustrated by an endless parade of worksheets in the first grade, when he was having a hard time sitting at a desk and writing for long periods of time. I was also concerned about the common practice at his school of keeping kids in from recess if they had misbehaved in class.

My feeling is that an active young child who gets into trouble because he cannot sit still needs more time running around outside, not less.

I have come to believe that schools need to do much more to adapt to the way boys learn. This belief has been bolstered by the stories of other parents, who tell me that they are being pushed to put their active young sons on Ritalin. "Being a boy is not a disease," one parent writes.

I also think it is important that parents not turn their efforts to get the best for their sons into a war between boys and girls. Doing a better job for boys should not mean shortchanging girls.

But when I see a row of little girls, sitting quietly, listening to the teacher, following instructions, working cooperatively in a group, and neatly completing their assignments, it is hard not to see how much better elementary school fits the typical girl than it does the typical boy. And since I was one of those little girls, always trying to please my teacher, I know from the inside how easy it was for me to fit into school.

Meanwhile, some of the little boys are pushing and shoving, turning in homework that looks like it was dropped in a mud puddle or worse, and making toy guns out of the manipulatives in the classroom.

My feelings about boys and learning have been influenced by the book Real Boys by William Pollack, Ph.D. Pollack is a clinical psychologist and the codirector of the Center for Men at McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School.

"Our schools," Pollack writes, "in general, are not sufficiently hospitable environments for boys and are not doing what they could to address boys' unique social, academic, and emotional needs. Today's typical coeducational schools have teachers and administrators who, though they don't intend it, are often not particularly empathic to boys; they use curricula, classroom materials, and teaching methods that do not respond to how boys learn; and many of these schools are hardly places most of our boys long to spend time. Put simply, I believe most of our schools are failing our boys."

Read Pollack's book, in particular the chapter "Schools: The Blackboard Jumble," for a detailed analysis of how he thinks public coed schools are failing boys. His most compelling arguments are simply numbers: Research shows that most of the students at the bottom of the class are boys, most of the students in remedial classes are boys, most of the students suspended are boys, fewer boys than girls go to college, and many more boys than girls have serious difficulties with reading and writing.

"These statistics show that there are many more boys at the lowest rungs of the ladder of academic achievement than we had ever imagined or been led to believe," he writes.

One answer, Pollack suggests, may be all-boys schools or all-boys classes within coed schools. It's an intriguing suggestion, one I've certainly never considered for my children. But it has proved to be the right answer for some.

One mother writes, "I just had to pipe in on the teachers don't like boys theory. I know it's not all schools, but it is certainly like that at our grade school! My son is now in high school (an all-boy parochial high school), and he is so happy because of the difference in the way the boys are treated that for the first time he is starting to enjoy school."
What parents can do
Would schools benefit from a better understanding of how boys and girls learn? Of course. In the meantime, parents who want to make sure their boys are being treated fairly can do a couple of things:
Don't tolerate putdowns of boys.
Know your child. Learn to present your son's strengths when talking with teachers and others. To help you do this, keep a diary, just for a week, in which you write down all the good things your son does, the things he's good at, the things he likes, the things that make him happy. This is valuable information for your child's teacher.
Work closely with your son's teacher. Ask the question, "How can I help my child succeed in your classroom?" One parent says, "If the teacher starts talking about negative things about my son, I just turn it around by saying again, 'How can I help my son succeed in your classroom?'"
Realize that this is new ground for many parents and teachers. Reread Pollack's book and others as often as you need to. And keep reminding yourself that the school should bend to the needs of students--not the other way around.""
gothictheysay
... I didn't even read all of that. Hardly any of it, actually. I just wanted to say that even thinking a HUGE group of people, like the group of teachers, would all or almost all possess such a bias, is ridiculous. As for "teachers disliking boys", I think that's an individual teacher thing. The rest, about the environment of school, I won't say anything about because I didn't read.
Phyllis
QUOTE (gothictheysay @ Jan 23 2006, 08:10 AM)
... I didn't even read all of that. Hardly any of it, actually. I just wanted to say that even thinking a HUGE group of people, like the group of teachers, would all or almost all possess such a bias, is ridiculous. As for "teachers disliking boys", I think that's an individual teacher thing. The rest, about the environment of school, I won't say anything about because I didn't read.
*

Ditto. I just skimmed the article, and it appears to only discuss individual cases. That is in no way evident that it's a widespread problem. With the evidence given, one could just as easily say that more boys than girls have behavioral problems that cause teachers to be more rough on them (which would also be a generalization based on the behavior of a few people). Personally I think either conclusion is a load of crap. But that's just me smile.gif
pgrmdave
I agree with the idea that generally, the different sexes learn differently, and that at an elementary level, schools are set up more favorably to girls than boys. Boys tend to be more active, and feel the need to move and play, but even in a first or second grade class, when the children are between 6 and 7, they are expected to sit down for hours at a time. I think that since boys tend to be more active, the active ones are 'disrupters' and teachers don't tend to hold them in high regard.
Astarael
I think I agree with the above posts. I've had some teachers who outragously favor the girls, some who do the same for boys, some who are a tad easier on one gender, and some who genuinely treat both genders equally. If you choose to pull out around ten individual examples from different people, it doesn't show anything because you could achieve exactly the opposite effect with ten other different samples. Little kids in general, and boys in particular, need longer recess in kindergarten, though. Some kids just need to work out some excess energy on the playground before they can settle down, so keeping them in at recess isn't really going to help anything. If the article was about how teacher bias in general caused problems with students and contained some statistics, it would be more credible.
Mata
I think it's all about the way that you approach things, for example one school found a huge benefit when they started taching the kids Tai Chi before lessons:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/930937.stm

Boys and girls do, on average, think in different ways. On a very general level, boys think in spatial terms and girls think in terms of how things relate to eachother. Classically, men are supposed to be better at mechanical understanding of the world (a 'logical' approach) and women at an intuitive style of thinking ('lateral thinking'). If you listen to conversations carefully over a period of time you can spot these trends in your friends.

Currently schooling is leaning towards grading pupils through team-work activities and coursework, both of which are techiques that favour women's abilities. Equally, because women focus more on trying to understand the people around them (as opposed to attempting to be the alpha male) they are often better behaved in the classroom. Frankly, you can't blame teachers if they prefer teaching girls!

I'm not saying that these characteristics fit with everyone (for example various small tests I've done over the years say that I think with a method somewhere in the middle, possibly even into the more female way of thinking), nor that they are predetermined at birth, but they are the average for the western world.

As a sidenote: TV.W.L., I didn't bother reading the article either. Could you please in future copy over the important bits (usually the first and last couple of paragraphs) then put a link to the source if we want to read the whole thing?
tv with legs
sure.
ill try to work on it.
Mata
Thanks smile.gif It'll probably also mean that more people join in with the discussion.
PsychWardMike
I've noticed a few times when girls were favored better than boys in the classroom, but that was simply when the teacher was a huge feminist or flaming lesbian - not a problem in itself until this spills over into the classroom.

Still, a vast majority of my current teachers male and female alike, like me. The same held true for much of my elementary educational career as well.
Saratina
I probably shouldn't say anything about this, since I do not in fact go to a public school--or even a private school.
And yet I'm going to anyway, go figure.

While I agree with the previous statements about overgeneralizations and whatnot, I do think that often political correctness is taken to the extreme and results in the opposite bias. For instance, I'm not sure this has any relevance to the topic, but if we had a White Pride Day, White Entertainment Television, White History Month, or a college fund that only gave scholarships to white kids, wouldn't we be blasted as racist? --as if by taking prejudice against African-Americans to the opposite extreme we're solving the problem somehow?

But as I said, I'm not directly involved in public schools, so I wouldn't know.
Mata
The common response to that view is that it is White History Month for eleven months of the year, and Black History Month (and other such ideas) is attempting to redress the balance. Naturally things like that only work as a temporary measure. The real test of their value is whether they manage to highlight non-main cultural identities throughout the rest of the year, and, if they succeed in doing this, whether they then stop because they are no longer needed.
Faerieryn
As a teacher in a public school I find it extremely difficult not to favour some studnets over others. Most people would in the situation. You have two students. One who is likeable and loves the subject you teach. They spend time talking to you about the subject after the lesson and ask sensible questions in class because they are interested. The other is a likeable student but can't be bothered in your lesosn because they don't intend to use your subject for anything more than the basic life skills that it teaches them. They ask silly questions because they are bored of being told stuff that they don;t feel they need to know. Which would you most like to spend time with?

I try hard not to favour either sex or different abilities but it is extremely difficult to be a human being and not do so. Or at least to do so without trying. The real difficult one is trying to make sure that you treat students of differnt races as equals and by races I mean all races INCLUDING white students. You choose one students work as being outstanding and they happen to be white and you're a racist. You choose another who happens to be asian for example and other students complain that you've chosen the asian studetns work because they are just that and it is nothing to do with the merits of the piece.

Just three days ago I had a drama group and I kept a group of boys back (who happened to be mostly asian) because they had constantly disrupted my lesson. As they left my classroom I heard them muttering to each other "that is Soo racist" but if I hadn't kept them back the other students would have assumed it was because they were asian. We can't win!!!!! mad.gif
Museum Girl
They're saying !oh little boys can't sit still so teachers hate them" but there are plenty of well behaved little boys and disruptive little girls. Most little girls do fit the well behaved stereotype and vice versa, but it's not that teachers hate boys; it's just that quiet compliant children are easier to teach and therefore teachers like them, whereas rowdy undisciplined chldren are harder to teach and get punished harder in infant school because their behavoir needs to be corrected before senior school when classroom time really matters, otherwise they won't learn anything. Boys tend to have those sorts of behavoira patterns because more parents are willing to let boys run around and "be boys" than to let girls exhibit the same behavoir, people tend to be stricter with girls. It's a slightly sexist thing but it does make girls easier to teach.
Astarael
I feel for you, ryn. I've had some teachers who faced exactly that problem and couldn't really find a way around it, as well as a friend who's about ready to strangle people for saying that she's only getting her phenomenal grades because she's Asian and the teachers like her.
The rowdy and disciplined groups do tend to fit boys and girls reasonably well at the elementary (is it primary in the UK?) level, but I've noticed that it balances out a bit more in high school. Most of the fights I've seen this month have been girl fights with guys trying to separate the combatants, and many of the guys in my classes are willing to settle down and be quiet before the girls stop gossipping. Although the basic rowdy/calm learning divisions still hold somewhat true, they're far less obvious than they were at the younger school levels.
pgrmdave
I think that the question is not whether or not it is rowdy boys vs. disciplined girls, but whether our very school system, because it is designed so much against activeness, both physical and mental, that it handicaps boys due to their genetic predisposition to hyperactivity. It is simply not in many boys' natures to sit still and concentrate on one activity for long periods of time. Does that mean that they cannot learn? Of course not, but it does mean that we need to find a different way to teach them.
sjbbandgeek
When I was in elementary school, It always seemed as if the teachers, administration, and curriculum favord girls.
It is very difficult for young men such as myself to sit in a classroom and stare at numbers and words for hours on end. Boys need other things to do to keep things interesting. Whenever we shifted away from the daily grind at my school, we were forced to write poetry and draw pictures. There is nothing purely feminine of these arts, but they were not areas of competence or interest by my male peers. Cutting the activities that make the boys want to go to school (such as band, athletics, etc) only makes the problem worse, and it puts boys in a situation were they don't even want to attend school.
The problem is not the teachers, it is the system. And in this technological age, the need to update the way people have been taught for over a hundred years is more important than ever.
Mata
It's only really in the last twenty years, or less, that this has become such an issue. In the UK there has been the introduction of coursework, which means that students have a continual point of assessment during their studies rather than just crammed into an exam. It has been found that girls generally perform better on coursework than boys. The problem in the 1970s was that boys were constantly out-performing girls in the classroom, so things have changed to even that out.

It might just be that girls are better at academic subjects than boys and that their current superior performance is just a reflection of their natural abilities!
Astarael
Not completely true, but the person who is certainly going to be valedictorian of my class is a girl, and the three or four people who will battle it out for second are all girls. tongue.gif Coursework sounds lovely right now, as I have two big tests tomorrow and our schedules seem to be paced so that we go for weeks without any tests and then have four in one day.
I really wish that we had more breaks during the day. Even ten or twenty minutes to run around outside or just relax would probably defuse a lot of the fights. Some of the best classes in school are ones in which the teacher rearranges what we do so that we can work in groups and make noise sometimes instead of copying reams of notes. Usually the guys tend to just fall asleep or get bored when the note-writing goes on forever, but this year we've finally moved past copying things word-for-word off the overhead projector. That made even the most dedicated students want to sleep until the lights came back on.
Mata
Again, that structure of classes is supposed to bring out the gender divide. Allegedly men are more motivated by competition, whereas women learn more from co-operative teamwork. Splitting off into groups is a modern-ish teaching technique that suits the 'feminine' approach to learning better than the masculine one. I always had quite good results from taking notes, but it depends on how good the teacher was.

When I was at an all-boys school there was a heavy emphasis on tests. It seems like every day there was at least one test on something, and I suspect that it was done like this to promote competition and encourage the pupils to compare scores and try to better their classmates. Without that kind of comparison the feeling of competition disappears and you lose the 'typical' male's interest.

As I've said before these observations are just working with the generalised view of male and female psychology, but they are a reasonably accurate overview.
Astarael
Occasionally our group work involves us dividing into teams of three or four people and then battling it out to see who can answer the most questions to get bonus points on a quiz. I've noticed that the teams of guys tend to get really happy when they win, as the competition is excellent with the right teacher. (The game two days ago ended and the winning guys high-fived as one of them screamed, "We are gods among insects!" and then danced on his desk.) Quiet groupwork does tend to be more useful for girls, though.
The system is sort of tilting different directions for different classes, but it may settle down to a good mix of masculine and feminine teaching techniques eventually. The teacher bias point is too vague and unproven on a widespread basis for it to really be a valid argument.
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