Hip Hop Isn't The Only Reason for the Gender Gap: Schools Are

There's a thought-provoking and comprehensive piece by USAT editor Richard Whitmire in The New Republic about the challenges of educating boys, especially in literacy.

If you think you know everything about this topic, or -- horrors -- that it isn't important -- think again. It's not just the hip-hop, and it's not just black boys.


Titled Boy Trouble, the piece describes a growing gender gap -- not just in the US -- and debunks many of the convenient explanations used to divert attention from what may at heart be biological and instructional factors. That is, boys learn differently, and schools are highly feminized places.

There are some obvious school-based issues to consider, according to Whitmire. "Most literature classes demand that students explore their emotions (not a strong point for boys)...Basing grades on turning in homework on time guarantees lower grades for boys...Here's the boy-thinking: If I answered the homework question to my satisfaction, the task is done. Why turn it in? If you're the parent of a girl, that may sound bizarre. It isn't. Parents of slumping boys know differently."

There are also some limitations on how much schools -- or boys -- can change. "Expecting boys to become more like girls, however, will strike parents of boys as a bit odd--especially liberal parents who swore they'd never give their children violent toys, only to watch their sons mold clumps of clay into submachine guns."

Thanks to Joanne Jacobs for pointing it out and to Richard for providing a copy of the text (which is otherwise $$).

Previous Posts:
Making Schools More Effective for (Black) Boys
No More Papers, Becoming Bilingual
Google Geometry, PJs At School, Game Boy Jobs


Anonymous Kevin Killion said...

Yeah, it's about time a major magazine recognized the obvious! The major upheavals in education in the last couple of decades have been especially disasterous for boys. For a list of possible factors, see my article on "22 School Practices That May Harm Boys" at http://www.illinoisloop.org/gender.html

7:50 PM  
Blogger Alexander Russo said...

Thanks, Kevin --

I should also have added in my original post that the PBS version of Raising Cain is being broadcast around the country and has a lot of website content to check out (http://www.pbs.org/opb/raisingcain/).

One of the issues that seemed interesting was whether teachers allow little boys to tell their dramatic, sometimes gory fantasy stories. (Apparently, most don't.)

11:05 PM  

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