Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Boys and Girls

Girls outperform boys at virtually every stage in education nowadays. Why is this and does it matter?

Our entire education system has been altered in recent years to favour girls. There are virtually no male Primary Teachers and even Secondary Teaching is becoming almost a female profession. Boys therefore do not encounter role models or see male figures in authority. The advertisements to attract new teachers do not exactly encourage males to exhibit strong leadership, resilience, toughness or any quality that was once admired as 'manly' but is now seen as 'bullying'. They seem to be trying to attract Social Workers instead.

Behaviour that boys naturally adopt from a young age; ie running around causing mayhem, fighting and shouting is actively discouraged. Boys generally love danger and competition which are seen as taboo.

Girls tend to work conscientiously throughout the year whereas boys prefer to cram for an exam and perform better under stressful conditions. Therefore we have introduced Coursework which many boys don't even bother to hand in and modular courses with numerous minor exams which boys soon get bored with.

Government funded groups and companies such as L'Oreal actively advertise Women in Science. Nobody does a similar thing for men. TV dramas tend to show women in strong roles, triumphing over weak and indecisive men (who always have 'issues'). All in all it's a bit like the 1950s in reverse.

Still. no point in moaning, you can't blame a group for fighting for it's own interests. Maybe I'll start a male emancipation movement (If Mrs C will let me)

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

A prominent feminist once said "if you want to be good to your daughters, you have to be cruel to your sons".
I think we've had too much feminism in schools plus boys don't have fathers any more. That's probably the root of the problem. As for there not being any primary teachers - they've been hounded out by the "every-man-is-a-potential-paedophile" angst. can you blame them? anyway, boys and men have had it much better than girls for centuries so it's only fair.;>)

Leo said...

The huge number of kids growing up without a father is a major factor.

Goff said...

One of the reasons 'The Dangerous Book For Boys' was such a best seller (despite the fact that it was totally unrealistic- assuming every boy had access to a 'Famous Five' lifestyle)was that parents bought it because they felt guilty that their boys were no longer able to do boy type things.

Tom Welsh said...

"...boys and men have had it much better than girls for centuries so it's only fair".

I know you said that half-jokingly, but if you reflect for a moment you will see how unfair the statement itself is. "Your (grand)father had it much better than your (grand)mother, therefore it is only fair that girls should have it better than you today".

What would be fair would be to treat everyone equally well. Unfortunately "our modern values" (i.e. the unthinking and unrealistic prejudices of a small handful of romantic idealists who seem to make up today's establishment) are heavily weighted against everything that was thought good in the past. Baby and bathwater...

Phil A said...

Tom, I think they call it 'positive (good)discrimination'.

That's Just like ordinary (bad) discrimination, but seen from the point of view of whoever comes out on top as a result of it, i.e. not the one left holding the crappy end of the stick - the other person.

Anonymous said...

Google 'women in science' and you get loads of organisations. Google 'men in science' and you don't.

Do the same with 'University Women's Officer' 'Women's Health' etc and you see the trend.

Do you ever see any 'Race for Prostate Cancer' organised?

Men have allowed themselves to be considered second class citizens. We've only ourselves to blame

Ged T said...

My favourite is 'Women In the Field of Engineering' (WIFE)

Too right we've brought it upon ourselves.

cramerj said...

So far muslim men seem not to be so weak kneed as the average anglo saxon. And his leaders are strong for strong men.
Maybe there is something to be learned here.

Anonymous said...

My partner is a woman in science and most of her women friends that have attained a similar senior position are childless- there is a real problem here. It may well be related to the length of time to gain genuine recognition against the biological clock, compounded by assumptions about gender. It really isn't just some PC blag.

However, there are very serious problems with the orientation of education in schools and it is very glib to say that because the playing field was not even before, it is OK to have a different distortion. If you believe in equality, then you should work toward equality. An education system today should not favour either gender, regardless of what happened in the past.

Equality is achieved through equality not, inequality.

Suzi said...

In response to the women in science comments, I've taken a moment to look around my lab at the six other people here, all men. Two other people aren't here this week, also men. There are two female physics lecturers in this department. One of those lecturers has an all male research group. My graduating class of theoretical physicists had 3 women. In our chapter of the Optical Society of America, I'm the only female committee. To suggest that there is no need to promote women in science shows that you haven't been in a physics or maths department recently.

I agree that it's not smoothly distributed across science. Biology and chemistry are far more balanced but it's still a huge problem in physics (particularly theoretical physics) and maths.

British National Party member said...

Women aren't as smart as men at the top of the scale, neither are they as dumb at the bottom end of the scale. Feminists know that its true (Its not rocket science, after all) Which is why they up the screeching to defcon 1 when someone mentions it instead of letting it stand or fall on its own merits.

Regardless, im in the happy position of being able to erect a veritable portcullis between my Child(ren) and the state, and never shall it be raised.

For your entertainment, here's a good article about the boy/girl thing done by well known american blogger Fred on Everything.

Caz said...

After going to parents evening last week, I'm not sure what sort of role models teachers really are to pupils.

The older ones seemed alright- generally the strict but fair type I remember from school but the younger ones...

The females all looked like overweight slappers and the males all looked completely namby pamby.

I'm sure it is harder to keep order in the classroom these days but isn't it also down to the sort of people who are going into teaching?

kelvin throop said...

Might be true of your kids' teachers, caz, but it's not generally true. I wouldn't say that of most of the young teachers here, nor of Throop jr's teachers.

Anonymous said...

After finish eating my lunch today in the school staffroom I looked around at my colleagues. There were about 25 women and myself, one male teacher and this is at a secondary school. Time to start looking for a new profession.

billy said...

Suzi said...
In response to the women in science comments, I've taken a moment to look around my lab at the six other people here, all men. Two other people aren't here this week, also men. There are two female physics lecturers in this department. One of those lecturers has an all male research group. My graduating class of theoretical physicists had 3 women. In our chapter of the Optical Society of America, I'm the only female committee. To suggest that there is no need to promote women in science shows that you haven't been in a physics or maths department recently.

I agree that it's not smoothly distributed across science. Biology and chemistry are far more balanced but it's still a huge problem in physics (particularly theoretical physics) and maths.

11:15

If there us a sufficiency of scientists why do any of them have to be female?

Suzi said...

billy said...

Suzi said...
In response to the women in science comments, I've taken a moment to look around my lab at the six other people here, all men. Two other people aren't here this week, also men. There are two female physics lecturers in this department. One of those lecturers has an all male research group. My graduating class of theoretical physicists had 3 women. In our chapter of the Optical Society of America, I'm the only female committee. To suggest that there is no need to promote women in science shows that you haven't been in a physics or maths department recently.

I agree that it's not smoothly distributed across science. Biology and chemistry are far more balanced but it's still a huge problem in physics (particularly theoretical physics) and maths.

11:15

If there us a sufficiency of scientists why do any of them have to be female?
17:36

There isn't a sufficiency of physicists. Personally I think that getting the numbers of people taking physics courses is the most important thing. Maybe if/when that happens there will be more gender balance. There is no logic to forcing the physics workforce to be 50% female, and there is no logic in forcing women to do physics who have no interest in it. However, when there is such an extreme imbalance, what's wrong with trying to redress it a little? Is there a reason why women shouldn't be in physics?

Just before anyone jumps on me, I would love to see more men going for teaching jobs, particularly at primary level. But if there's a sufficiency of primary teachers, why should any of them have to be male?

hackedoff said...

I don't think it really matters that there are more women teachers than men. What really matters is the amount of pointless bureaucracy that teachers have to deal with, and "PPA" which seems to be cutting into contact time, which in turn leads to more supply teachers being used, lack of continuity, less meaningful classroom dialogue...

Something's gone badly wrong in the education system - I can only applaud those who have the guts to keep at it day after day.

William said...

Hackedoff the important question is; are some teachers role models for their pupils?

If they are, then it will affect the boys if there aren't many male teachers. If however they aren't role models then it doesn't really matter.

I seem to remember wanting to be like some of my teachers, but I'm not sure if it's the same with kids nowadays.

caz said...

Kelvin I admit that maybe my sample size of one school is not ideal to make a judgement, but I do wonder what the general picture of teacher recruitment is.

hackedoff said...

William: I'm not sure that teachers as role models even come into it any more, if indeed it ever did (I certainly didn't look to my teachers as role models, we were all far too scared of them for that sort of thing - I went to an old-fashioned Grammar School where the teachers walked about in Batman capes and called us all "lad" or "lass").

My own kids don't seem to regard their teachers as role models either - they don't hate them or disrespect them (unlike the kids in Frank's school), but they're hardly regarded as aspirational figures - they're seen as weak, because when the one bad kid* in the class starts mucking about the teacher seems to be powerless to physically stop him/her. All my kids see is that reasoning and politeness don't work with gobby chavs, and that gobby chavs can seemingly get away with behaving outrageously.

* I guess my kids are lucky to go to a pretty good school

Hall said...

Hackedoff, that's the impression I ge from my eldest son. The teachers irritate them because they cannot control the naughty kids.

It's interesting that my son's favourite teacher is very strict, sits the class in neat rows and tolerates no talking, chewing or anything else.

When I met him, he turned out to be a really nice guy who laughed out loud at the idea that he was considered 'tough' by the kids.

mister scruff said...

"It's interesting that my son's favourite teacher is very strict, sits the class in neat rows and tolerates no talking, chewing or anything else."

you just reminded me of my primary school days (back in 70s). exact same thing. the teacher in question was very well liked and respected by all the parents.

got top grades that year too. no messing about tolerated at all.

then in other years, with a different , weaker teacher, my grades would get worse. its all common sense. you dont need a sociology degree to understand it. kids RESPECT discipline.

Anonymous said...

hmmm.
Girls are quicker to develop as babies, as toddlers, as school children and at university....
... why is this odd?
If we were saying the same about boys, would anyone notice?

Maybe girls are just more intelligent than boys!

hackedoff said...

"The teachers irritate them because they cannot control the naughty kids."

Unfortunately the teachers aren't allowed to control the naughty kids. Why is it that the government still hasn't addressed this problem? Every parent that I've talked to about this agrees that the softly-softly approach just doesn't work - (the naughty) kids simply aren't mature enough to realise what they're doing to both themselves and the rest of the class (let alone the poor teacher!), or even if they are mature enough they simply don't care and don't want to know.

Parents are fed up, teachers are fed up, and (most importantly) the kids are fed up. Why won't the government do anything about this?

British National Party member said...

A BNP government would.

Phil A said...

Re ”Unfortunately the teachers aren't allowed to control the naughty kids. Why is it that the government still hasn't addressed this problem?

And why? The Blame should rest with STOPP, the NCCL and much of the NUT.

Physical punishment, whatever your ‘moral’ stance on the subject, was a teacher’s highly effective means of control and final sanction. Just the knowledge that it was there was enough 99% of the time. Now pupils know teachers have no real sanctions, from their point of view.

Despite the best efforts of the NASUWT, after vigorous and vocal campaigning against corporal discipline by the ‘Fluffy Bunny Squad’ - particularly the teachers' pressure group STOPP (Society of Teachers Opposed to Physical Punishment), abetted by the National Council for Civil Liberties and around half of NUT (National Union of Teachers) branches, a ban was imposed in all UK state schools in 1986, it was extended to private schools in 1998.

A survey found that a significant majority of parents believe pupil behaviour had declined since then and over half were in favour of the return of corporal discipline in schools.
It is worth noting, that the argument against corporal discipline, was largely along the lines that; if you treat children violently (and opponents classified corporal discipline as violence), it will produce a violent society.

Interestingly, though corporal discipline has not really been used in schools since 1987, violence and discipline problems appear to have become much worse since then and a greater problem now than ever.

One has to wonder how much apocalyptically worse it might have been, had the cane not been banned…

Kimpatsu said...

"...you can't blame a group for fighting for it's own interests."
What does "...fighting for IT IS own interests" mean, anyway?

ResearchGirl said...

I'm a 'woman in science' too, despite having been told - in the 1960s and 1970s - that "girls don't need maths" and "girls don't do chemistry". My older brother is 'in computers'. We had a very strong father figure - and a mother who was a FT teacher,(with two MAs and a PhD besides) whose job choices my father never questioned.

Strong boyhood, I'm afraid, starts at home, and that is where teachers cannot penetrate unless they are utterly exceptional, brave, and backed up by others in the community.

Subverting the curriculum to fulfill the requirements of SATS whilst training boys to recognise other male role models takes courage and smarts (I like Rafe Esquith's "Teach Like Your Hair's On Fire" as a model).

Boys without fathers or uncles or grandfathers who love them are lost boys. It starts young. It can be changed but only if people want it to change. I am not sure enough people do.

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