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Sexual stereotyping of boys

(83 Posts)
greymatter Sat 15-Jan-11 09:28:58


At my son's school's sharing assembly, which I attended yesterday, the headteacher commenting on 3 year 5 boys who had just read out some beautifully descriptive prose. She annoumced that it was amazing to see them reading their work "as we all know that boys don't like writing". She then repeated this statement. I am beside myself. My son is just learnign to write and has been told by his headteacher that it;s not for him anyway, The school h as a satisfactory status which hasn't change din 2 ofsteds. HELP!!!! I talked to my little boy afterwards and we agreed that boys doen't like writing because they LOVE IT!!

Advice please. This head is a disaster area on many levels.

kattyo Sat 15-Jan-11 09:42:51

Oh my. That's really shocking. No helpful advice to add. But I share your reaction. I'd have been livid.

edam Sat 15-Jan-11 09:47:35

Blimey, what a stupid and potentially harmful thing to say. Suggest you go to the chair of governors and ask if they could possibly have a word with the head about saying things that are a. untrue sweeping generalisations and b. risk putting a whole load of children off a subject.

edam Sat 15-Jan-11 09:49:40

And perhaps you could give the head a quick reading list. Shakespeare might be a start. Or if s/he will only be persuaded by modern authors, how about Saul Bellow, Will Self, Alan Bennett, VS Naipaul, almost every sodding Booker winner, Julian Fellows... (given writing is not just about books but about theatre, film, journalism and other areas too) ... a list of male writers would be rather lengthy!

Goblinchild Sat 15-Jan-11 09:51:24

I'd also get your boy to count how many books he has and loves that are written by men.
As well as complaining, you are already doing the right thing by challenging the stereotyping directly with your son. I agree, some boys love writing. As do some girls.
It's a stupid and offensive prejudice to hold.

edam Sat 15-Jan-11 09:55:29

Do it quick before she tells all the children that girls don't like maths!

emy72 Sat 15-Jan-11 11:38:58

oh yes, we have had this too. It's shocking.

mrz Sat 15-Jan-11 11:52:51

Like it or not national statistics show boys under perform in writing so perhaps instead of taking the head's comment as negative look at it as a positive thing.
"We know boys don't like writing but that doesn't apply here because our boys are amazing writers"

ISNT Sat 15-Jan-11 12:11:44


That's just unbelievable. Some good ideas on this thread about what to do.

edam Sat 15-Jan-11 13:44:11

mrsZ - and telling boys that boys don't enjoy writing is going to help in what way, exactly? The boys concerned didn't yet know that they aren't supposed to be into writing. The head's now told them. Oops...

And boys' under performance in writing is probably at least partly caused by attitudes such as the head's. If children are surrounded by people who expect boys to be bad at writing, or fail to enjoy writing, most of them will absorb those attitudes and comply.

Teachers should encourage all children, whatever their gender (or race or other category) to enjoy all subjects. Not tell them 'by the way, this isn't for you'.

Clary Sat 15-Jan-11 13:44:31

Yes I agree it was a careless thing to say but I am afraid that a lot of boys don't like writing (unfortunately).

mrz is right that boys underperform in this area through primary and beyond.

I don't think telling the whole school that that is so is the best way to go about changing that tho hmm

edam Sat 15-Jan-11 14:35:35

yy, I know there is a problem with boys' writing in general but that doesn't mean any particular boy or group of boys is not going to enjoy writing. And it's a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy - if you tell boys writing isn't for them, they will stop doing it or enjoying it.

edam Sat 15-Jan-11 14:36:29

(Do wonder how much of it starts because we expect fine motor skills before children are actually ready in developmental terms - especially boys who, on average, are slower in this area.)

greymatter Sat 15-Jan-11 16:10:30

Thanks for all the input. I am intending to write to the Head and copy the Governors. It concerns me that other equally negative comments are pervasive on a day to day basis when I am not there to witness them..

kattyo Sat 15-Jan-11 17:24:21

Just read Cordelia Fine's book on gender differences - it debunks a lot of the neurological/biological science which is trundled forth to justify sex difference - and often used to justify different performances in girls and boys at school. expectations are key in explaining differences, she argues. Even having men and women indicate their sex before they take the same test affects performance (compared to a test where they don't do the same) - as does the performance of students who are told beforehand whether, for example, that men tend to underperform women on the test they are about to undertake.

Maybe you can put the book in a brown envelope and send it to her - or pass it round your governmors...

greymatter Sat 15-Jan-11 17:29:14

Thanks for this. Very useful information and I'll look for it on Amazon now. Sadly there are other issues at the school as the Head has been against the formation of a PTA/Friends Association.. I am desperate to get my son out.

mrz Sat 15-Jan-11 17:29:21

But is the head "justifying" or are they in fact celebrating the fact that boys are (against popular belief) successful writers ?

greymatter Sat 15-Jan-11 17:31:01

She made the statement in a tongue in cheek way. However, to be fair a lot of racist and sexist abuse can be cloaked as humour.

greymatter Sat 15-Jan-11 17:32:51

The overall message seemed to be that boys don't like writing but - didn't these boys do well. So sexist and rather patronising at the same time.

mrz Sat 15-Jan-11 17:37:06

Sorry but I don't see it as sexual stereotyping to say according to research and the media boys struggle with writing but look here are 3 boys demonstrating that boys can write well... I call it pride

DreamTeamGirl Sat 15-Jan-11 17:48:04

I do know what you are saying mrz but the fact remains saying it in front of the children themselves was REALLY silly.

mrz Sat 15-Jan-11 17:53:44

Sorry but I think it's a great incentive to say to children ...some people say you can't do that but look you've proved them wrong because not only have you done it you have done it exceptionally well.

DreamTeamGirl Sat 15-Jan-11 17:54:44

But what if they didnt yet know thye werent meant to be good at it?

mrz Sat 15-Jan-11 17:59:10

Does it really matter as they have proved they are good at it so whatever anyone else thinks they know it isn't true. It's a bit of thumbing your nose at the doubters

greymatter Sat 15-Jan-11 18:08:56

it wasn't said like that though. it was said "boys don't like writing" and implied that these boys did exceptionally because they were boys. The point is is she was telling the rest of the boys in the school that these boys were special but what about the rest of them? Not to mention all the little ones who are just learning to write?

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