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Why do we have such low expectations of boys

(82 Posts)
AbbyR1973 Fri 28-Jun-13 10:56:44

Often I read threads on here about reading/writing/maths and inevitably sooner or later someone pops up with a comment like "well he is a boy" or "boys aren't developmentally ready until they are 6" etc etc...
I find this very depressing and clearly is a message that is getting through to the boys themselves.
DS1 who does extremely well at school in year r and is by far and away ahead of his peers actually said to me last week "Mummy boys have weaker brains than girls." I was horrified that he should say something like that as a matter of fact. Heaven only knows where he heard it!!
We need to give our boys positive messages.

Meglet Fri 28-Jun-13 11:07:43

I wonder too. Other parents say that their son isn't reading because he's a boy, but my DS was reading very well at that age I'm a horrid pushy mum though. He is working mainly just with girls in all his ability groups, there's only one other boy in his year who is at the same level. The rest of the boys are in the middle or lower ability groups, DS has mentioned this as he wants to work with his mates so I live in fear of him sabotaging his work so he can be with them. I suppose I've been lucky and DS has generally cracked on with school, I can't appreciate the reasons why the majority of boys are in the lower ability group.

To be honest I get wound up from both sides, the people who think girls can't be boisterous (um, my DD can) and people who pooh-pooh boys doing well in their early years at school. 6.6yo DS does well academically and he can also bosh people with sticks, he's not the type to sit still at all.

AMumInScotland Fri 28-Jun-13 11:27:43

There's a difference between what one boy actually does, and what boys on average do.

So, if someone on here is worried that their 6yo boy hasn't really caught on to reading yet, then it is totally fair for other parents/teachers to reassure them that it is really very normal for a boy of that age.

That doesn't mean no boy of 6 can read well or is academic - mine was another who picked up the idea of reading and ran with it, aged 4, and loved book-learning.

But you're right its worrying if boys are being told they are automatically less able, whether they are being told that directly or picking up on it subconsciously. I thnk you should take the chance to repeat it to the teacher and say you are worried that he is hearing such things.

Rollmops Fri 28-Jun-13 11:39:44

What utter rot! I would like to get my hands on the eejit who put the thought of weaker brains of boys into your son's head.
In our school, (selective independent) boys are outperforming girls by far, however, nobody goes round patronising girls and their' wee little brains'. angry
Children are children and home and family are the deciding factors in their future success.

TheSecondComing Fri 28-Jun-13 11:42:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Smudging Fri 28-Jun-13 18:43:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Fuzzymum1 Fri 28-Jun-13 18:53:16

In DS3's Y1 class all the top reading group are boys so it doesn't follow there.

Iwillorderthefood Fri 28-Jun-13 19:08:36

I had a conversation with a mum of boys who kept saying how dainty and cute my girls were. Her boys were apparently rough and tumble, not easy to sleep at bedtime all things girls are not apparently.

I kept gently correcting her. I agree that there is this view of boys and it is wrong.

Back2Two Fri 28-Jun-13 19:19:06

Well, my primary reception teachers teach boys with an awareness that boys develop differently from girls and hence learn differently.

Apparently, even the physiological development is different and they do not learn to write in the same way (or maybe as quickly....this doesn't mean that they won't write as well once they get into it.

They do not expect boys (or girls if relevant) to learn in traditional ways and use inventive and imaginative ways to teach for the first year or so. For example, using gross motor skills more than fine to do maths.

I don't see why different expectations are bad. Saying "well, he's a boy" may not be a put down, it may be a recognition and an explanation. There's no doubt boys and girls ARE different. You can just see the difference in focus and interest when they enter the classroom in the morning. All nurture and not natural instinct? I'm not sure.

ipadquietly Fri 28-Jun-13 19:48:32

I agree. I think it is irrelevant whether they are physiologically different / learn in different ways, if parents, teachers and other adults persist in making excuses for them.
'he just wants to play on his computer'
'that's a boy thing'
'he just wants to play'
'he needs to go outside and run around'
'he's not interested in learning - he's just a boy'
'he can't sit still - he's just a boy'
'he's a real boy' (to explain any kind of silly or immature behaviour).

It really annoys me. What about the girls? They like to run around. They like to play outside. They like to move about rather than sit still.

Where is the proof they are physiologically different? What is the 'different' way they learn, that we don't address in primary schools?

IME over the last 15 years or so, the attainment of boys has got lower and lower and lower in KS1, and I have heard more and more excuses made for the boys' performance (by parents, teachers, media, etc)

How can we sort it out?

(I have made a similar observation about girls, the colour pink and bloody fairy books. It's like there's a conspiracy to make girls into compliant little Stepford wives.)

numbum Fri 28-Jun-13 20:05:25

My year 1 DD is on the 'top table' for maths and literacy with 5 boys so it doesnt follow there either.

DS goes out for extra maths lessons (g&t not SEN) and there is a definite mix of gender there too.

What I have noticed at the school I work in though (dont know if its the same at DCs school) is that there are a lot more boys than girls with SEN in every single year. I absolutely disagree that they have weaker minds though. They may be behind educationally but there are some clever minds there!

Back2Two Fri 28-Jun-13 21:00:25

I agree. I think it is irrelevant whether they are physiologically different / learn in different ways, if parents, teachers and other adults persist in making excuses for them.

I, personally think that the above statement is non-sensical. How can it be irrelevant? It is absolutely 100% relevant and should without doubt be factored into teaching approaches and strategies to maximise the boys potential. It is a theory well discussed if not proven, that early learning is female biased.

At the same time, I know of very few comments and "excuses" made about boys and their learning. My son goes to bog standard state school with a wide social mix. I don't hear loads of excuses about boys learning nor do I feel the school had low expectations of boys. I certainly don't.

Taffeta Fri 28-Jun-13 21:02:43

Other way round in our house. DS is bright and very keen, has great drive to succeed.

DD is a dreamer and can do what she needs to when she sets her mind to it, which is occasionally.

Chottie Fri 28-Jun-13 21:03:11

I have an adult 'boy' and he is definitely an achiever. I think the change in GCSEs will really suit boys.

I expected both my children to work hard and take advantage of all the opportunities available to them.

Back2Two Fri 28-Jun-13 21:05:07

See, you can combine the two...."boys learn differently" and "he needs to go outside" ... There are no negative connotations at all if you turn our learned ideas about education around and you take the lesson outside and make it physical rather than desk based.

simpson Fri 28-Jun-13 21:05:58

Both my DC are very bright.

DS is in top sets/groups/tables for everything which is mainly made up of boys. He is the hard working, studious one.

DD is in reception and everything seems to come more easily to her than her brother but because things come easily I am not so sure she will work as hard iyswim.

pointydog Fri 28-Jun-13 21:08:56

BacktoTwo, there is no convincing evidence that boys learn differently from girls. I agree with the op's comment on careless stereotyping of the sexes which surrounds them from birth.

Lots of women teach and that does not mean that early learning is female biased.

pointydog Fri 28-Jun-13 21:09:44

Boys need inventive and imaginative teaching and girls can do fine with traditional stuff - what a shocker.

ipadquietly Fri 28-Jun-13 21:20:49

back2two where is the evidence that boys learn differently? (FGS girls need to go outside too!!) Why are you assuming that all learning is desk-based?

Primary school teachers have been addressing 'making learning more accessible to boys' (e.g. castles, weapons, killing, army, etc - boy things) for several years and things aren't getting any better...

Boys' physiological differences/learning styles are irrelevant, if, from a young age, adults have such low expectations of them. If we don't expect high attainment in KS1 because of their assumed 'developmental delay' and their 'unreadiness' for academic work, we, as teachers, are stuffed.

Helpyourself Fri 28-Jun-13 21:21:06

Boys reach their milestones later than girls and are hugely disadvantaged by the accelerated structured teaching at early years and key stages 1&2. It really matters because they get discouraged and disenchanted, switch off and don't catch up. Added to the fear of being nerdy and lack of positive role models (how many male primary school teachers do you know?)
Boys are boisterous and girls are biddable- hugely I damaging stereotype. Many children don't flourish age 4 in an environment where they are constantly measured and assessed- obvious fact that needs to be addressed.

ipadquietly Fri 28-Jun-13 21:22:45

'girls can do fine with traditional stuff' Poor girls.

I take girls to the woods every week, and, believe me, they like mud just as much as the boys.

Back2Two Fri 28-Jun-13 21:25:35

No, I have said neither of those things. I said that early learning being based upon the strengths in learning of young girls rather than boys has been discussed but not proven. And, I said, boys or girls should be provided with alternative approaches to traditional teaching methods..... ..whichever teaching method suits whichever child.

I have two boys. My son at school is in yr one but reading with yr two classes. He seems fine in other subjects. I'm not stressing...I know he'll be fine because I know I provide a lot of encouragement and opportunities and I think the school is great. At the moment I'm more interested in nurturing a passion for learning and social confidence.

I should be supporting the OP ....but I find myself asking who is the "we" who has low expectations of their boys? Not me.

Myliferocks Fri 28-Jun-13 21:26:43

I have two high achievers. One is a girl and one is a boy.
Two of my DC are average and they're a boy and a girl.
My struggling child is agirl but she is also an August child with very low confidence.
Looking at some of the reading books they have all bought home over the nearly 13 years my DC have been at school and they seemed to be slanted towards the more traditional girls reading subjects.

Back2Two Fri 28-Jun-13 21:35:22

Boys' physiological differences/learning styles are irrelevant

No they're not. Not if they actually are relevant. It was a male primary school teacher that led a session at school for parents/carers on different learning styles etc. that told us that the muscular development of boys made fine motor skills more difficult at an early age (or something close to this, I can't remember exactly, 'twas last year smile)

How can that not be relevant? It would be wrong and detrimental to boys to ignore such theories.

ipadquietly Fri 28-Jun-13 21:38:39

Back2 We bend over backwards for boys. Our whole curriculum has their interests and 'boisterousness' in mind.

The questions are:
Is their relatively low achievement due to them being developmentally delayed?
Have got into the habit of making excuses to justify the boys' poor performance?

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