Staffroom conversation today - biscuits, boys and Botox

(45 Posts)
kim147 Mon 17-Mar-14 20:35:41

Well the Botox was a conversation a parent was having with someone about all the stuff she wanted to do to make her face look good.

But in the staffroom. I was just talking about handwriting and the KS1 teacher was saying "well, that's typical boys". The deputy head said casually along with me "you can't say that" but that was it. I have just started working there so did not want an argument.

Then the biscuits. Same teacher was "banning" people from the biscuits because everyone was on a diet. Except the one who was "skinny" because she needed building up.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Mon 17-Mar-14 20:36:35


Did your palm hurt when your face hit it?

noblegiraffe Mon 17-Mar-14 20:39:27

Sounds like a weird place, can you avoid the staffroom?

Boys handwriting though does tend to be worse than girls, doesn't it? Isn't it a fine motor skills issue?

Hulababy Mon 17-Mar-14 20:42:30

The boys/girls thing at KS1 - well there is evidence to support some of that. Boys are lagging behind in many areas when compared to girls, as a group that is rather than 1:1 individuals.

Writing is a key area of concern in our LEA, across the LEA - with a big focus on boys as a group.

Hulababy Mon 17-Mar-14 20:43:19

You'd never get anyone to agree on banning the sweet stuff in our staffroom though!

Nocomet Mon 17-Mar-14 20:43:22

Except my handwriting was worse than many of the boys and really was a crime.

The teachers could not accept a girl who couldn't produce neat work, really was trying too.

It's why I'm a biologist only way to stop the bastard biology master up about presentation was to come top.

kim147 Mon 17-Mar-14 20:43:58

Yes - boys tend to develop fine motor skills later.

But that is not an excuse to not worry about their writing by saying "typical boy".

Hulababy Mon 17-Mar-14 20:45:50

Ah - so the KS1 teacher was syaing it wasn't a concern? Mis-read.

Opposite here - big push on boys writing in general, including handwriting, to tey and reduce the gap between the genders.

kim147 Mon 17-Mar-14 20:47:37

I just said my son had poor handwriting and she said "typical boy".

Well - there's a lot more reasons why he has poor handwriting. It's not because he's a boy. If his teacher had taken that approach, we would never have got anything done.

Staff room conversation is mind numbing at times. In my old job I was driven to the point of early death by hearing about:
the 5:2 diet, whatever the fuck that involves; "what a good boy" pregnant woman's husband is for putting the fucking kettle on, making a meal, etc; crass innuendos between male teacher and certain TAs ("pass me those balls please, mrs jones." "Eeeeeee I'd love to grab your balls!!" And so on.)
Luckily I stoved my own head in with a hammer so no longer have to put up with this.

FloraFox Mon 17-Mar-14 21:05:49


kim147 Mon 17-Mar-14 21:11:28

I think I am aware of gender issues in the classroom and try to ensure that I do not show "bias" and include everyone - FWR has made me aware of how language and actions have a massive impact.

I'm now teaching computing in primary schools which traditionally is seen as male stuff. I really want to make sure everyone in my class sees it as fun and achieve their best.

kim147 Mon 17-Mar-14 21:13:02

But OTOH, I am also doing computer workshops over the holidays and it is currently all boys who have signed up (well - their mums have made the phone calls to organise it. Not one Dad has organised it)

Takver Mon 17-Mar-14 21:14:19

"big push on boys writing in general, including handwriting, to tey and reduce the gap between the genders."

I really don't get these 'boys in general' / 'girls in general' things. Surely it would make sense to have a push to help those who are bad at writing / handwriting, of whom the majority in a given class may (but may not) be boys?

I guess I feel more strongly about this because dd has always had the 'wrong' problems - poor motor skills/handwriting, uneven development, too dominating in group work - lots of 'typical boy' things.

kim147 Mon 17-Mar-14 21:17:10

Exactly - it should be classroom practice so all those who are struggling are given support to improve - in any subject.

KissesBreakingWave Mon 17-Mar-14 21:23:08

Odd thing: my handwriting has never been calligraphic, legible if ugly was about the best you could say. Declined a bit as more and more of my work and writing came to be done with a keyboard. Still egible, just uglier.

Then I had surgery on my shoulder, coming up on five weeks ago. Don't know quite what they did in there, but for some reason my handwriting is a LOT neater.

Hulababy Mon 17-Mar-14 21:25:55

Takver - these are recognised groups of learners that we have to highlight for school records, progress meetings, etc. So, everyone will be still doing the general learning but they will be a focus on key groups of learners in certain areas. Obviously teachers will know who in their classes need specific support even more, but the general LEA wide push/focus will still exist and be expected.

Hulababy Mon 17-Mar-14 21:28:41

I also teach computing at primary - Key Stage 1. I used to teach secondary Computing (so GCSE/A level, etc) in the past. I have always been fortunate that I have always had a good mix of genders in my classes, and at KS1 the gender thing in computing doesn't seem to exist. Certainly our computer club has a mix of girls and boys through all three year groups.

I am finding that both genders are really enjoying the move towards much more coding.

noblegiraffe Mon 17-Mar-14 21:44:51

I really don't get these 'boys in general' / 'girls in general' things.

Because they are gendered issues. Boys' literacy is a real issue nationally (GCSE English pass rates for girls 71%, boys 56%), and it's partly due to boys not engaging with reading, and with the slow start with writing due to motor skill issues.

Just like lack of girls' engagement with STEM subjects is a gendered issue due to them not being seen/sold as suitable subjects for girls.

As they are gendered issues, they need to be tackled in a way that acknowledges this.

kim147 Mon 17-Mar-14 21:52:58

It's observations in school.

In general, boys tend to develop fine motor skills later than girls.

In general, girls tend to be less drawn to STEM subjects.

Not all boys, not all girls. But from a teaching point of view - you can't just say oh, he's a boy, what do you expect? She's a girl, she'll be no good at science.

No - you have to ask why and make sure strategies are in place to help overcome these barriers. Why do boys tend to develop fine motor skills later - is it because they've been brought up to enjoy / do activities that develop gross motor skills whilst girls are brought up to enjoy / do fine motor skill activities.

And not ignore such issues.

Takver Mon 17-Mar-14 21:54:20

That's a fair point, noblegiraffe. Its unfortunate though if that translates into all the boys in the class getting extra handwriting classes, and none of the girls, regardless of their individual needs.

Takver Mon 17-Mar-14 21:55:18

kim, that makes a lot of sense. Presumably it would also lead to strategies which will help all those with problems, regardless of sex.

kim147 Mon 17-Mar-14 21:58:21

That's the idea - especially with handwriting. I've worked in KS1 and I've done lots of activities so everyone can improve their fine motor skills.

Playdough is good. Dot to dot. Loads of strategies. But there is a noticeable difference. There are of course some girls with poor handwriting and boys with great writing. But you can see a difference.

kim147 Mon 17-Mar-14 22:00:01

And same for engaging in literacy - not boy friendly stuff but doing activities that help engage all children rather than assuming all the girls will be engaged regardless of the genre / story / theme.

'In general, boys tend to develop fine motor skills later than girls.

In general, girls tend to be less drawn to STEM subjects.'

I could be wrong, but these seem to me to be categorically different things. Being drawn to STEM is surely conditioning. Fine motor skills presumably could be conditioning (playing with certain kinds of toys, expectations etc.), but it's subtler, isn't it? Or do five year olds show a marked gender preference along maths/english lines?

Anyway ... that was me being distracted by a detail. I meant to post saying this judging of handwriting as a feminine skill is really damaging. I'm dyspraxic, and my handwriting is truly terrible, although I can do calligraphy quite reasonably if I take the time. I remember the almighty shock I got when I went to an all-girls school and was suddenly told that it wasn't enough for writing in an exam to be legible: marks would be removed if it wasn't elegant, too. hmm

Disturbingly, even then, I knew - because my granny told me - that there was research coming out showing that examiners judged neat, 'girly' handwriting to be less intelligent. And yet, the school still set us up for that fall.

I cannot help feeling that focussing on fine motor skills to 'help' the boys up to level is not going to solve that.

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