Saturday, June 22, 2013

The problem with boys in school is harder to fix than identify.

Joanne Jacobs has this article on boys' behavior and learning:
Many teachers and school administrators think “boys are too fidgety, too hyperactive, too disruptive, derailing the educational process for everyone while sabotaging their own intellectual development,” Lahey writes.

"Peek into most American classrooms and you will see desks in rows, teachers pleading with students to stay in their seats and refrain from talking to their neighbors. Marks for good behavior are rewarded to the students who are proficient at sitting still for long periods of time. Many boys do not have this skill."
Actually, if you peek into most American K-8 classrooms, what you'll see is a woman ... in our district the female to male ratio for teachers is about 8:1, nearly 15:1 if you include administration, paras and staff. That is skewed by the middle school which happens to be close to 50:50. In the high school, female:male ratio in my building is closer to 6:5. The district-wide faculty assembly at the beginning of the year is when you'll see this most clearly. The room is filled with women, most of whom are identical in their approach.

For another example, try Image Googling "Teacher". What do you get? Lots of elementary schoolteachers - all women. The only men are shown doing more complicated work - probably high school.

Is this a problem? I think so.

If all you ever get is variations on that teacher above, that really sucks. You need some variety, liberal and conservative, old and young, smart and meh, etc. You need someone who will talk you out of the corner and a teacher who will let you keep your own counsel.

I am not in this picture.
I was on a different part of the battlefield.
We all take different approaches to discipline, teaching, classroom bearing. I'm ex-military, 6'2", and I do medieval martial arts and historical arts and sciences for fun, but I'll bring cryptic crosswords and UVM math problems to do at night in the pavilion. I can play nearly every sport we offer at school and have coached many of them. I am dramatically different from many other teachers, male and female, but there are plenty like me ... again, both male and female.

This variety is good. Kids need to see that everything isn't sweetness and light, sit quietly and don't talk. Sometimes, they need some honest truth.
  • I don't give points for good behavior, participation, or having a pencil. 
  • I don't give a rat's behind about the notebook. 
  • I HATE collaborative grades and won't ever, ever, never, absolutely won't drop your grade because your "team member" didn't do his part.
  • You must know fractions. The calculator is for work you can't do with a pencil in 60 seconds or less. I don't care. Now is a great time to learn.
  • It's 70% tests and quizzes in a pseudo-SBG setup and 30% homework - but I don't grade homework, just count if attempted. For calculus and pre-calc, the ratio skews toward 90:10.
  • Challenge me and I'll prove my point or I'll accept that you've proven yours.
  • I don't give permission to go to the bathroom. You're 16/17 years old; take the pass and go quietly. One at a time. (Even if you're just getting out of your seat for a walk - that's going to be more of a problem for you than me when the test comes along.)

Sound like anyone you've had as a teacher? Certainly not for all of your teachers.

Some students can't stand how I run things - that's okay, I won't take it personally. Many more switch to my classes if they can, so I'm not in any danger for my job! The point is that it takes both kinds of teacher to adequately do this K-12 education thing and I'm not sure that my type exists in many elementary and middle schools.

1 comment:

  1. I teach middle school and have in common with you 5 of the 7 bullet points. I wish they knew fractions, and they need to ask for a bathroom pass. But I think both of these points are due to my kids being younger.