Is the educational system geared towards one gender?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by linswin23, Jul 8, 2015.

  1. linswin23

    linswin23 Cohort

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    Jul 8, 2015

    Hi guys,

    I got in a debate with a colleague today about gender and schooling in the U.S.

    My colleague was saying that the reason why so many boys struggle in school and have most of the behavior problems in school is because the school system has been geared more towards girls. When I taught in the U.S. I think I had more disciplinary issues with girls!

    What are your thoughts?

    I was honestly not sure what to say about this. She stated that girls are more prone to be the ones to sit down, listen, be attentive, and be quiet. I told her I disagreed.

    She mentioned how there's a biological difference between girls and boys (which is true--the sexes are not 100% the same) and how boys need more time to play, run, and learn physically.

    I do agree with her on this, but girls need this just as much. She also stated that when given the chance, girls will choose to sit down, play house, and do imaginary things instead of play fight, run and be active.

    I disagreed--not all girls are like this. I even told her that some little boys would choose to sit down and do quiet play instead of play Power Rangers on the school yard.

    ....

    I also brought up the whole issue of how girls are not entering the fields of math and science as frequently as boys (this issue is becoming better, but it's still an issue). She said that it's because girls' brains aren't capable to be analytical nor understand those concepts. :dizzy:

    So....as educators...what are your thoughts?

    Needless to say, it was an interesting lunch time discussion. Most of it was me trying to contain myself :D
     
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  3. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    Jul 8, 2015

    I get that "kids will be kids" and boys are different than girls. However, the expectations for what a person is going to need to be able to do, how they must behave, etc once they become adults doesn't change - that's an ideal, I know, but to keep things simple I'm going with that ideal.

    I don't think it's fair that boys can get away with stuff, while girls are mentally taught (trained?) to be a certain way from an early age. I hold my boys to the same expectations as my girls - because that's life and that is what is expected of them.

    In the long run, I think that prepares them for the real world.

    As for the comment about girls not doing science. It has nothing to do with our brains being able to handle the information - it has everything to do with how we are raised and how society claims it's not a female type of thing to do.

    My Dad sat me down every evening to watch nature shows as a child. My Mom got me outside every day - because she saw no reason for a kid to be inside when it is nice outside. That led to a love of biology, which eventually led to me becoming a science teacher. I know this type of parenting is not the norm- my parents put in a lot of time and effort into my education. My Dad has 2 daughters, but he made sure that we both like science and can fix things when they are broken (while also expecting us to know how to cook, clean, and sew buttons onto clothing - because that's practical to know). My husband's parents let him do whatever he wanted (with guidance), but he had no real guidance when it came to his education and skills (he had no chores). He's a very hard worker, but has no real professional goals set (he kind of has jumped from thing to thing) and well... I'm the one who fixes the stuff (plans for an event) around here. (Just one example for 2 people)

    I enjoy life sciences, but my husband helps me out with the physical and some chemical sciences. It's not that I'm too stupid to understand, it's just what I'm inclined to want to know.

    Society has not yet reached the point where female scientists are "cool", "sexy", etc, so too many girls are intimidated from an early age to truly know that they can DO science as amazingly well as the boys do it. Plus I'm not sure how many males really want females working in science, so when the positions are dominated by males and they don't want us there, it's going to be a really hard push to get a position.
     
  4. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    Jul 8, 2015

    I read a great book a couple of years ago about the real, physical differences between boys and girls and it was really interesting. Hopefully, I will remember the name of it when I wake up more.

    The author felt we need to be much more aware of these differences in our teaching.

    One thing I remember is that as women, we tend to speak quieter and more monotone. and men tend to have more variation in their voices and are louder which catches the attention of the boys who need more stimulation to stay focused. Boys need more movement and to sit less for shorter periods of time and benefit from more hands-on learning than a teacher talking, talking, talking. Boys'eyes have more cells that detect movement and girls'eyes have more cells that detect color and texture. Boys have less connections in their brain between the area that has feelings and the language center so asking them to talk or write about their feelings is much more difficult, especially when they are young. Girls thrive is a more relationship-based environment and there are more female-friendly ways to teach them math.

    Anyway, I came from a family of sisters and had 3 sons. I felt like they were little aliens because their thoughts and actions were so different than I was used to in a female family. I grew up in the time when we were saying men and women were the same and that is definitely not true from my experience. I think this is an area we need to learn a lot more about.
     
  5. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Jul 8, 2015

    I too agree that there are definite differences between men and women, boys and girls. I also agree that expectations are expectations, but the gender differences shouldn't be ignored. I also don't think we should try to smooth them out. On that note, I don't think girls are best suited to sitting and listening to the teacher, or that boys are best suited. That is besides the point. I think smart changes in instruction and discipline ought to fix that as sometimes I think we get too caught up in the ideal managed classroom and not the education.
     
  6. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Jul 8, 2015

    The simple answer is yes, schools today in the US are more geared toward girls. I taught single-gender classes for a year and it was amazing A) how different they were and B) how much better the boys did than my mixed boys.

    However, the comment about girls' brains not being analytical is ridiculous. It is pure socialization that makes our girls shy away from those things. I saw a tweet the other day that broke my heart.

    A girl wrote "Why do I have to learn all this stuff when I want to do is be cute?"

    I don't think any little girl grows up with that view naturally.
     
  7. John Lee

    John Lee Groupie

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    Jul 8, 2015

    I don't think that they are geared toward girls. I just think they are geared the way they are--and girls are more suited toward it.
     
  8. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Jul 8, 2015

    That's fair. I wasn't implying that it was intentional but I realize "geared toward" comes across that way. The system just is what it is. Making every answer requires in-depth, lengthy, writing just pushes it even more over to the girls.
     
  9. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    Jul 8, 2015

    I believe that girls tendency to want to please helps them learn the rules to acceptance and praise sooner than the boys who are more geared to movement. I do believe that by HS, many of the differences are minimized, and by college nonexistent. Whether the edge that girls gain in those early years by trying to please hold up long term would be the source of countless research projects.

    Perhaps just as important is the decreasing number of men in the classroom. I don't think there is any difference in ability, but I have seen boys respond differently to male teachers. Many males have no strong father figure in their lives, so the male teacher has a burden to bear. Similarly, many children have mommy issues, since mom is the parent who forces HW, bedtimes, dating decisions, etc. Just something that I have witnessed a lot in the ED/BD population.
     
  10. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    Jul 8, 2015

    As far as behavior, IMO girls are significantly better behaved in school. I thought that as a student growing up and I think it now as a teacher. I honestly used to think that I wanted to be in all girl class in elementary because I wanted to be with other kids who were well behaved. I'd also sign up to teach an all girl class in a heartbeat! I do think the way school is set up is more girl-friendly. Of course there are outliers in any situation and no stereotype applies to every single person. In five years I've had one female student that was a behavior problem, and she had a very significant emotional disability. I honestly can't think of any others that were even mildly disruptive. Of the "high flyer" behavior students at my current school, none are girls. I do think that based on stereotypes (again, does not apply to every single person) girls tend to cause more problems with relational aggression and can get more into bullying, but as far as sitting in class, listening, participating, studying/doing homework, etc. I think girls are much easier on teachers! I also think as a stereotype parents have higher behavior expectations for girls, and more parental support with behavior obviously transfers to better behavior at school. Many parents still have a "boys will be boys" attitude or think that their boys are just not capable of sitting and listening and the teacher needs to just quit expecting them to do it.

    Of course I do not agree that female brains are not analytical. I do think it's so interesting though to hear about math and science education being more geared toward boys. I honestly had never heard of that stereotype until college. Maybe my school wasn't typical, but I feel like at my middle school/high school, it was socially expected that girls would be "smart" (in all subjects) and do well in school, while boys were expected to excel in sports and not care about school. I took all of our AP classes and the great majority of my classes were all female. My English and Science classes had no boys in them. My SS class had 3-4 (and about 20 girls) and I remember if a boy did well on a test he would try to brush it off as just getting lucky/guessing well and would insist, "It's not like I actually studied or anything." I honestly did not meet any boys that were even somewhat interested in academics until college.
     
  11. Preschool0929

    Preschool0929 Cohort

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    Jul 8, 2015

    I do think there are differences between boys and girls. I know that at my school, when teachers work on class placements for the next year, a big consideration is an even group of boys and girls. Last year we had a teacher that had about 80% boys and complained most of the year that it's what was wrong with her class.

    In my experience, especially this year and last year, my most significant behaviors were from girls. Many times, I've witnessed parents that are "harder" on boys and are quicker to give them a consequence for behavior. On the other hand, I've seen girls throw the exact same tantrum/undesirable behavior, and the parents have been much more patient with the behavior. I feel like this has translated a lot to my classroom. I can typically redirect the boys/give consequences pretty easily, but the girls I have are typically more stubborn and prone to tantrum when not getting their way.
     
  12. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Jul 8, 2015

    From my experience, girls are a lot better behaved in school. I'm not going to pretend to know the reason, and maybe there's confirmation bias there, but the boys just seem to have motors that constantly churn faster than the girls. From my past year's class (13 girls, 10 boys), if I were to "rank" them from best behaved to worst behaved, the top 13 would have been 12 girls and 1 boy. The whole idea of sitting still and listening to somebody else seems to work better for the girls than the boys. In that way, school is more geared towards girls.

    I think that same thing is what often leads boys to do well in science though. Hands-on subject where taking things apart is seen as a good thing and where asking never-ending streams of questions is a lauded quality? That sound like one gender over another? That one girl from earlier, the one who would not been in my top 13 for behavior? Take a guess what her best subject was (and it wasn't even close).

    There are certainly exceptions though, and I think society works against girls to some extent with math and science. I've had more than one utterly brilliant girl say to me that they don't like math/science because mom told them little girls didn't do well in math. Strangely, even though it seems like on average, girls tend to be better readers and writers, I've never once had a boy come to me and say that they weren't good readers because boys weren't good readers.
     
  13. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    Jul 8, 2015

    I've seen this too ... although boys can also be very hard discipline - but I think this has more to do with me being a female teacher in an area where boys have little respect for female authority.

    I have found that girls are better behaved in the sense that they are more likely to sit down and remain seated and are more likely to work with less pushing - they are better at getting stuff done. All of this lends itself to girls doing better in school in my opinion. But, girls can also be major behavior problems; they can be very chatty and disrespectful - in ways that boys wouldn't even try. I find that since girls view their behaviors as not as "blatantly bad" as the boys; they feel that they should not be reprimanded and that they should be able to pretty much do whatever they want since they are seated and working. Basically, girls sometimes don't recognize or won't admit when they are misbehaving and thus, become much harder to discipline.

    Someone mentioned relationships being an advantage for girls but I think student-teacher relationships may be even more important for boys. I've found that many boys - at least where I teach - will not respond/behave if they do not have a positive relationship with the teacher. Whereas, I often hear girls say that they don't like a certain teacher, but will still work hard and behave in class. Yet, for many boys in my district, having a positive relationship with a teacher is the crucial first step to dealing with student behavior and academic issues.
     
  14. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    Jul 8, 2015

    I've had so many parents over the years tell me that fighting, rough-housing, running around the classroom, dancing in the middle of lessons, etc. is "just what boys do." When I hear this, I know I got a fight on my hands that is above my pay-grade.
     
  15. linswin23

    linswin23 Cohort

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    Jul 8, 2015

    I agree. I've heard this a lot as well.
     
  16. Koriemo

    Koriemo Comrade

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    Jul 9, 2015

    While I think many have observed that in the early elementary grades, girls tend to be more compliant than boys, I'm not sure if this is true once they get older.

    This past year, the girls I had were very difficult. They had a lot of relational drama, bullying, disruption, lack of attention, etc. I had far fewer issues with boys. And while boys were the ones who threw all the magnets on the ceiling, broke the pencil sharpener, and repeatedly used my materials bin as a basketball hoop... the girls were way more disruptive to the learning environment.
     

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