No. What was true a hundred or more years ago (i.e., many resources did not go to girls, leaving them behind, while many boys flourished) is no longer true. While there is always room for improvement for both genders, a focus on boys is actually one way of helping both boys and girls. The old paradigm in which, if boys get help, girls will suffer, no longer applies to our nation’s classrooms. In the new paradigm, if both boys and girls get help, both will gain in engagement, achievement, and a positive school culture.
The Gurian Institute research has shown this over the last two decades. Please see www.gurianinstitute.com/success. The Institute team discovered that when teachers are trained in boy-friendly strategies, girls’ test scores, grades, and behavioral markers go up, as well. Dr. Gurian explains: “In our research we discovered one hidden reason for this dually positive finding. Before the boy-friendly interventions, we found that teachers were spending 10 to 15 minutes per class period in classroom management issues, most of which involved the disengagement and acting out of boys. This created a culture that not only kept boys from learning but impeded girls’ learning, as well. Once the school culture–and classroom teaching style–changed to include gender-based and boy-friendly theory and strategies, classroom management time went down significantly. This opened up more time for learning among both genders.”
As Dr. Leonard Sax, author of Why Gender Matters, has pointed out, “Schools have become far more girl friendly than boy friendly in the last few decades. This is good for girls but not as good for boys” Dr. Michael Thompson, co-author of Raising Cain, goes further: “In many schools and neighborhoods, boys are treated like defective girls.” He is pointing out the confusions so many adults in our present-day school, parenting, and community systems bring to “boy energy” and the way boys learn and grow. We often misunderstand it and over-punish or over-medicate it. In many neighborhoods, our difficulty serving boys leads to a school-to-prison pipeline.
What was true a hundred years ago is, in most areas of culture, no longer true, but our educational systems and university schools of education have not yet caught up to the social change. Dr. Gurian, a father of two daughters, has called for a social revolution on behalf of boys “that will also continue to help girls–the genders are all intertwined; if one is failing as boys are, girls cannot fully succeed.” In your own school and community, you can study the data for males and females by contacting your local Health District and exploring your school district’s websites.
Ask for data disaggregated for gender. As you read it, you might find your own community within the national trend: classrooms are very verbal and relatively non-kinesthetic, thus they favor girls in the aggregate. You’ll see this in grades, test scores, and discipline referrals. This trend has actually existed nationwide since the early 1980s but only recently has our culture begun to see how desperate boys’ lives are becoming.