Mom to Mom: Are Schools Designed for Girls?
I have four children, three of whom are boys. I have consistently found one thing to be true when it comes to children at school: schools are designed for girls. I realize I’m going to stereotype here, so forgive me ahead of time.
When my daughter, who is also my oldest, started school she was a model student. Smart, attentive, calm. Then my oldest son started school the next year. He was smart, but he was anything but attentive and calm. My younger two boys are now also in school and they side on the more rambunctious. My youngest’s teacher just had a baby boy and in her final weeks of pregnancy, she kept repeating to me, “I’m not ready for a boy!”
Kids are rambunctious and easily distracted. We all know this. Yet the minute you put a 5-year-old boy in a classroom, he is expected to sit and stay. In my eight years of volunteering at school, I can tell you that girls – in general – are the ones who are calm and who pay attention the most. The boys are fidgeting and struggling to keep their eyes ahead of them.
I’m convinced this is because classrooms are designed for girls. Author and researcher Christina Hoff Sommers said that a decline in recess and rise of zero-tolerance policies, among other things, have caused schools to no longer be male-friendly and have caused boys to become underachievers. That, paired with women’s advances in society as a whole, means that females have surpassed males in school performance and are the majority of people earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
According to a study by the Journal of Human Resources, teachers factor a child’s behavior into their grades. More than 5,800 grades from students in elementary school were analyzed and they found that in all cases, boys were scored lower than girls.
The study claims that this is because students are graded on “noncognitive skills.” like attentiveness, eagerness, ability to work independently and more. And girls develop these skills much earlier than their male counterparts. These grades and expectations carry over from younger children to high school and beyond.
Sommers suggests following the example of several other advanced nations. They opt for longer recess times for children to use excess energy, give more boy-friendly reading assignments and implement programs to help students be better organized.
Maybe you’re reading this and thinking that girls are finally getting the upper hand. But the fight should be for all students to be equal, not tipping the balance from one extreme to the other. All our children, girls and boys, deserve classrooms that are designed for everyone.