Wow. It’s a little on the long side (yes, I’ve got ADD and twelve minutes is a long time for me to attend to almost anything…), but this video is powerful. Ali Carr-Chellman (I’ve never heard of her before but she’s one of my new heroes) expounds on why boys are overwhelmingly failing in today’s schools.
Here are her basic three reasons why boys are out of sync in classrooms. After each symptom, I’m giving a little bit of my perspective… because you know, I have to so much to say about stuff.
1.Zero Tolerance – Most schools today have a zero tolerance for anything that resembles a weapon. With the violence in middle and high schools, these polices are certainly understandable… problem is, most boys yearn for the magical, the fantasy, the otherworldly elements in their reading and writing.
If you’ve never read Ralph Fletcher’s Boy Writers (another hero of mine), do yourself a favor and pick it up… especially if you’re a female and work with boys. He does a remarkable job of explaining why boys are drawn to these elements and offers many tips on how we can be inclusive of their desires.
Simply put, Zero Tolerance rules are black and white and we all know the world is made of many more shades.
2.Fewer male teachers – According to Ms. Carr-Chellman only 7% of elementary teachers are men. That’s it. That’s pathetic.
When I walk the hallways of my school, it never ceases to amaze me the number of boys that I don’t know who seek me out for waves, high fives, smiles, you name it. They are craving a male to look up to.
Whatever the reason, men aren’t going into teaching, especially in elementary grades. Boys need to see men in the classrooms. When you walk into an unfamiliar place and look around, you see who is in charge… it helps guide your opinion about that place. Quite simply, boys walk into classrooms and only see women feel like this is definitely a place for girls, but wonder where do the boys fit in?
3.Curriculum Compression – Everyone knows kindergarten is becoming more like first grade (Ms. Carr-Chellman suggests it’s the new second grade… scary). With boys generally developing slower than girls, where does this leave the boys? Far behind, that’s where.
I’m not exactly sure how we as educators can help boys keep up, but we need to be asking the question and thinking about solutions. So go ahead, please comment below and share your ideas for helping boys be successful.