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Gareth Malone - I'm furious at the idea that boys and girls need treating like this

(77 Posts)
JaneS Fri 10-Sep-10 20:27:08

I've been watching the Gareth Malone 'School for Boys'. I know been discussed elsewhere, but I am really angry and want to know if anyone else feels the same.

The programme is apparently meant to look why boys do worse than girls in school, which I agree is a really important point. However, the solution here is to say that boys need hyper-macho teaching - and the girls don't. Now, I know I should leave aside the fact that for centuries girls underachieved academically, and no-one thought this was remarkable. But I find myself watching this programme and smarting.

When I was at school, I was a tomboy. I liked being competitive (according to this programme, something boys - but not girls - benefit from). I liked being active; I hated sitting still. I was punished for it at school, even though I got good results.

At university, men perform better than women - the opposite of what happens at school. Suddenly, it seems that being outspoken, argumentative, or 'typically male' is an asset. If you are a tomboyish girl, you can't win. At school, you are not sufficiently feminine and polite. At university, you are a girl and so less is expected of you - for your problems are doubtless the result of your timorous feminine nature.

I know I'm coming on strong but I am so cross about this - is anyone with me? I don't doubt boys would benefit from different kinds of teaching, but doesn't this particular approach only make things worse for some girls?

nikkershaw Fri 10-Sep-10 20:30:22

i think it's the way that tv always do things - take a good real life idea then present it in the worse possible way (making it boys only)

basically all children could learn better with a little more time to get out

JaneS Fri 10-Sep-10 20:37:58

I know it's good TV. But it is so insulting and sad - only boys, apparently, enjoy climbing trees or finding conkers.

I mean, ffs, isn't this stupid to the point of being irresponsible?

nikkershaw Fri 10-Sep-10 20:41:18

it's a shame really that they decided to make it a gender issue. wasted opportunity

Habbibu Fri 10-Sep-10 20:43:42

I didn't watch it for just this reason, LRD. I'm a big fan of Gareth, but when I saw the trailer, I just imagined being one of the girls inside looking out of the window, and going "That's not fair!"

What would have been better would be to maybe pick a mixed group of lower performing children, do this experiment with them, and then see how it affected their performance. To counter arguments about inhibition by the opposite sex, you'd have to have 3 groups - male, female and mixed, and compare overall results, plus results by gender.

<considers grant application>

<remembers Vince flamin' Cable>

<boo>

StewieGriffinsMom Fri 10-Sep-10 20:50:12

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LeninGrad Fri 10-Sep-10 20:52:45

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

JaneS Fri 10-Sep-10 20:56:26

Ah, thanks habbibu - I assumed from this that it was Gareth's own idea.

I feel exactly like you, SGM. It felt like an unnecessary way of making girls feel bad.

Lenin - yes, of course we all have particular ways we prefer to learn! That's precisely the point. So why, given this, is there a programme that once again splits primary school children along gender lines? Why not stop all this nonsense about 'male' or 'female' learning habits?

StewieGriffinsMom Fri 10-Sep-10 20:57:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

StayFrosty Fri 10-Sep-10 20:57:24

i agree. and didn't watch it.

i get very pissed off when i hear about 'the feminisation of education' - when has school NOT involved some element of sitting quietly at a desk doing writing ffs? and don't get me started on the gcse english syllabus and the lack of female writers or characters in the set texts - how many people's dcs are doing lord of the flies and of mice and men? oh yes, v femininised hmm

it's funny that in the olden days, when education was the sole preserve of boys, they seemed to manage to sit at desks and copy off the board then. (note - am in no way saying this means sitting at a desk copying off the board = good education, just making a point).

TheCrackFox Fri 10-Sep-10 20:57:36

I didn't watch it either - I have two boys but one would hate to be climbing trees etc and Gareth Malone's ideas would be his idea of hell. I hate the way that stereotypes are still encouraged.

I remember being at school and all the girls had to do sewing and knitting and the boys got to do art. This was the 1980's not the 1950's. shock Oh, and we had to do flower sodding arranging whilst yet again the boys did fun stuff. No, I didn't attend a private school but a state primary school in a council estate.

StewieGriffinsMom Fri 10-Sep-10 20:58:45

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

chibi Fri 10-Sep-10 21:00:39

poor boys eh

lucky thing that they will go on to outearn girls and generally take their place at the top of the heap, regardless of merit

still, you really feel for them - those 2 or 3 years where they aren't number one

what a relief that it doesn't seem to threaten male dominance or privilege in any way

pheeeeeew

annoyingdevil Fri 10-Sep-10 21:01:00

Which is why I'm not even entertaining the idea of switching the programme on, despite having a crush on Gareth Malone (non- feministblush)

Breaks my heart when I think of my fiesty, outdoorsy DD who is always the first to climb any tree.

And don't get me started on women teachers shouldering the blame for boys' under achievement....and yes, I have a DS too

BelleDameSansMerci Fri 10-Sep-10 21:02:06

Thank you so much for posting this. I watched some of it last night and I was shaking with rage. I wasn't a tomboy but I am exceptionally competitive, outspoken and will absolutely stand up for myself under any and all circumstances. I was like this at school too. I am absolutely sick of hearing that girls or boys suit different teaching styles. I think it's bollocks. Different people/pupil respond to different ways of learning/understanding things. This is one of the first things you learn in people management. Why would children be different?

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr...

JaneS Fri 10-Sep-10 21:05:12

Oh Belle, thanks for replying! I am so angry, and I thought I was the only one. It's stupid: plenty of boys won't enjoy rampaging through woods and climbing trees; plenty of girls will. Of course we should make sure children can do both. But it is so offensive that it only seems to be a noteworthy problem when boys are struggling ... I've yet to see the programme that claims to make university 'better' for girls!

Habbibu Fri 10-Sep-10 21:05:20

I've no idea if it was Gareth's idea or not, LRD - I've just liked his choir programmes in the past.

Songbird Fri 10-Sep-10 21:06:48

I haven't seen it, but my mum has. Apparently it was a terrible shame that the girls still won the debate after all the rough and tumble teaching the boys got. Yes mum, that's right hmm

JaneS Fri 10-Sep-10 21:06:51

Ah, ok. Well, I hope it wasn't his idea. He does seem to have a genuine rapport with the children he's teaching, which is really nice.

LeninGrad Fri 10-Sep-10 21:08:59

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

JaneS Fri 10-Sep-10 21:10:12

Yes, me too Lenin. I think it's very unusual if a person can only learn one way, isn't it?

StewieGriffinsMom Fri 10-Sep-10 21:15:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BelleDameSansMerci Fri 10-Sep-10 21:20:04

I'm trying really hard not to go into a huge rant about the fact that no-one gave/gives a stuff when girls weren't/aren't doing well. I think we all know that's crap.

I don't see why there is any need to focus on gender difference at all (and I'm sure I read somewhere that boys are still outperforming girls in maths and sciences at A Level but I may have got that wrong). Surely it would be more beneficial to look at why some children do well and others don't?

There is never likely to be a "one size fits all" teaching method that actually works and I think this is where the real problem lies. And this leads us nicely back to the sad fact that those parents who can afford to find the right kind of academic environment for their children will probably do so and the children of less affluent parents will sink or swim. sad

TessOfTheBurbs Fri 10-Sep-10 21:30:38

When I first heard about the programme, I thought "Good for the boys, now, I'd have hated that at age 10/11".

And that's true - but actually, I would have loved it at age 4/5. By year 6, a lot of damage has already been done. Some of that is just part of growing up from a near-toddler to the cusp of puberty, but I think that socialisation plays a big part.

Before I started school, growing up with only sisters, I never gave any thought to whether I was a "proper" little girl. My parents brought us up to run free, ride my bike, paint and draw, play with little boys as well as girls - I think I had more male playmates than female - and to be smart. But at school the other girls seemed to 'know their place' better and I think this was reinforced, maybe unconsciously, by the teachers. I felt out of place and confused. By age 11 I was very conscious of the image I wanted to project, and it was that of a fashion-conscious, shallow girl who only liked art subjects (even though this didn't reflect my real strengths). So if Gareth Malone had tried to teach me that way, I would have stood on the sidelines grimacing at all the racing through forests and chasing the highwayman.

I am sick of hearing how boys are naturally competitive and girls are naturally caring team-players. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I used to believe that kind of thing, but I'm having a bit of a feminist awakening and have become very sceptical.

Gareth Malone, as LRD said, clearly has a great rapport with the children, and some great teaching ideas, but something needs to be done before the children get firm ideas of "boys do this and girls do that".

BelleDameSansMerci Fri 10-Sep-10 21:59:31

Tess my DD is 3 (at the weekend) and is at nursery full time. All of a sudden I'm starting to hear "x is for boys; y is for girls" and I keep saying "no, it's just a thing - things are for everyone" etc, etc. It starts so young. I hate it!

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