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Education Innovation
The Modern Education System is Anti-Boy

Boys are falling behind in school—performing poorly, some even dropping out—but it’s not all the fault of boys themselves, according to a new report by OECD, a French think tank. Here’s a nugget from The Economist on the OECD findings:

Perhaps because they can be so insufferable, teenage boys are often marked down. The OECD found that boys did much better in its anonymised tests than in teacher assessments. The gap with girls in reading was a third smaller, and the gap in maths—where boys were already ahead—opened up further. In another finding that suggests a lack of even-handedness among teachers, boys are more likely than girls to be forced to repeat a year, even when they are of equal ability.

What is behind this discrimination? One possibility is that teachers mark up students who are polite, eager and stay out of fights, all attributes that are more common among girls.

There are, of course, other factors. The Economist notes that boys see “doing well in school” as uncool, and read for pleasure less often than girls do. But this too is a failure of the modern educational system, in that it ought to engage and challenge boys as well as it does girls. Instead, the current system prioritizes traits that girls are more likely to exhibit than boys are. It’s no wonder that parents are losing faith in the school system. In America, the rise of homeschooling across different racial and cultural groups suggests parents are casting a vote of no-confidence in the system’s ability to serve children well—and, perhaps, boys especially (see a recent Vox article on homeschooling). Homeschooling could allow, for example, parents to integrate more vocational work or physical activity into primary education. Boys need an educational system that engages them, and creating that will require thinking outside the blue box.

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  • Anthony

  • Andrew Allison

    Could the sex of the teacher have anything to do with it? When I was in primary and secondary school (in the UK) female teachers were the exception, not the rule . . .

    • Rick Johnson

      Calling the OECD a ‘French’ think tank certainly brought a wry smile to my face.

      Although, even that is still flattering that corrupt and useless organisation.

  • Anthony

    I think many boys would do better with male teachers, who might be in a better position to handle them and teach them in a way that they would find compelling.

    • Anthony

      More male teachers certainly won’t hurt; here’s another thought: “unfortunately, the current boy crisis hype and the debate around it are based on hopes and fears than on evidence. A dizzying array of so-called experts have seized on the boy crisis as a way to draw attention to their pet educational, cultural, or ideological issues. This debate benefits neither boys nor girls, while distracting attention from more serious educational problems….”

      • Despiser_of_Libs

        STHU Libidiot. Your indoctrination is an ugly sight to behold. Anyone with a BRAIN can see being a BOY is a now a crime.

        • Anthony

          Another anonymous name caller ( benefit of hidden computer key board) but you are on the wrong web site. I end with this: logical implication of your last statement implies life is now a crime.

      • InRussetShadows

        The war on boys is just another front of the war on men and masculinity in society, of which you cannot be unobservant. Therefore, you cheerlead the feminization of society by trying to pretend that it does not exist or that it is beneficial.

        • Anthony

          No cheering feminization (whatever that means). Recognizing that half of population cannot be overlooked. Boys/Men have always been and will remain important (and I’ve done more than talk about it) thanks.

  • FriendlyGoat

    The linked article at Vox has a thought-provoking final sentence from the mother who wrote about her experiences in home schooling. Reflecting on the considerable challenges and, at times, frustrations, she ends by saying:

    “And I can always send them back to school”.

    After you destroy your “blue” box or invite all the sensible children and parents to leave the “blue” box so that nothing remains of public education but an intellectual and physical ghetto, then guess what—–you can’t always send them back to school.

    Home schooling has its niche and its merits. People at TAI should be smarter than implying it is part of a goal of the total replacement of public education.

    • InRussetShadows

      You have failed to consider the source – Vox – and understand that it is part of their mission to paint home-schoolers as fools. As for your fears, they have already come to fruition in public schools everywhere. That is why parents are taking their children elsewhere — the system is already broken and how long should a child be placed in a wretched environment while the adults go about fixing it? People are TAI (ok, I speak for me only) are much too smart to think that a public-funded education is something eternally proper like the stars; it was an idea that had its merit in its time, and now, its time has passed.

      • FriendlyGoat

        I didn’t think the Vox article appeared to have the purpose of making home schoolers look like fools, and I certainly didn’t say that.

        Republicans have been trying to sensibly replace ACA for several years now and have not come up with a workable thing. “Repealing and replacing” public education is a much bigger challenge and you’re kidding yourself if you think anyone is going to do it. When the conservatives would find out, for instance, that this might necessarily interrupt all the state sports tournaments, they’d do a sudden reversal of sentiment.

  • iconoclast

    A great book on this very issue–
    The WAR AGAINST BOYS: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men by Christina Hoff Sommers was released in 2001. Things have only gotten worse in government schools since then.

  • Despiser_of_Libs

    If our founding fathers could have seen us today, they would have packed up, went back to England and apologized to the king.

    Liberal good intent will never outweigh the negative impact of their actions.

    • Zorro


    • f1b0nacc1

      Then they would have seen what was going on in the UK today, and thanked their lucky stars that they revolted.
      As bad as things are here, the Brits are much further down that sad road….

  • fastrackn1

    Perhaps if enough people start home schooling or other alternative schooling, the present system will become alarmed enough to change or correct many of the problems it has…out of self-preservation if anything.
    All of our population can’t just be subjected to a cookie-cutter method/system of education as if all children are equal, and expect great results. There are many (including myself) who don’t/didn’t work well within the current system, so we just tune out and plod through it dreaming of graduation day in High School.

    • Despiser_of_Libs

      Youre kidding right? Do you think this CRIME SYNDICATE that has stolen OUR educational system will just sit back and let that happen? Do you really think Liberals will let the CItizens ever have that power again? Not without extreme violence.

      • fastrackn1

        Being the apolitical person that I am, I can see the good points and bad points of both sides of political ideology…without a lot of drama….

        Liberal ideology has brought a lot of great social change over the years that would not have taken place otherwise.

        There are a lot of really smart people here, so why not try healthy debate instead of….

      • Tom

        Agent provocateur do I name you. Please go away.

      • InRussetShadows

        You raise a good point. The establishment liberal power holders (especially teachers’ unions) will not let go of their power without a fight. Being unions, there will be browshirt violence against those who oppose them. How much violence will occur is hard to say, but you can bet that whatever does happen will not be reported.

  • Maea L

    If the bias stems from the sex of teachers (mostly female), what could we do to reverse the trend? When I’ve asked this in the past, people have said to hire more male teachers.

    I see some problems with encouraging more men to take on elementary-grade teaching jobs. Not because they shouldn’t, but because people associate teaching young children with something women should be doing. Secondly, there are many parental fears and perceptions about men and young children. It’s kind of sick, but a lot of parents assume those would be the men to sexually abuse their children, in spite of the evidence showing children are more likely to be abused by a family member or someone close to the family.

    I think the best way to address the anti-boy issue is to change the methods of teaching in public schools. It’s not realistic to expect children at various ages to be 100% obedient, and they need outlets for their energy. There’s a lot of schools cutting down on physical education and recess to allow for more class time because of poor student scores…well, why are the scores poor? It ultimately comes down to the quality of teaching. Teachers should teach from curriculum which is engaging and challenging, and I daresay a lot of boys would benefit. What I hear from parents is their boys are bored, and boredom causes children to do something that’s engaging. IOW, they appear to have “bad behavior.”

    The underlying issue as I see it is people are in denial about the differences between boys and girls. Men and women are different, that’s just the way it is. I was recently at a family gathering where a grandmother confessed to me since she only had girls, when she saw her nephews at gatherings she assumed they were always naughty. Turns out, they were just being boys. If you never grew up around a boy or had boys, you wouldn’t really know.

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