"It isn't so much that schools have changed in ways that hurt boys. It's that society has changed in ways that help girls.
Increasingly, success requires verbal skills, which everyone agrees come more naturally to girls. Industrial-age jobs that required minimal verbal skills are disappearing, replaced by information-age jobs that range from filing insurance claims to law. Even in technical fields, verbal skills are at a premium. An auto mechanic or TV repairman now needs to master complex technical manuals.
School reformers eventually spotted the need and reacted strongly, setting standards and writing tests that demand verbal skills. The SAT and ACT required for college applicants, for instance, now have an essay component.
This puts boys at a huge handicap, and schools haven't begun to adapt
One hint of the inadequacy can be found in research done by Michael Gurian, author of Boys and Girls Learn Differently. He surveyed the course offerings of schools of education throughout the country. His discovery: 99% of universities and teacher colleges do not offer a course on the biological differences between how girls and boys learn. So teachers enter classrooms unprepared to turn boys into successful readers
Other factors also come quickly into play, setting off a downward spiral that looks something like this: At home, dads read to their daughters and throw footballs to their sons. In elementary school overwhelmingly female teaching staffs naturally teach in ways that connect better with girls. Fidgety boys are quickly defined as suffering from reading disabilities. In middle school, teachers - still unattuned to the boys' disadvantages - take no action to correct swelling reading gaps.
That brings boys to the pivotal ninth grade, the first year when they run up against the heavily verbal, college-track curriculum that school reforms demand of most schools. And the boys flounder.
The trend holds through the remaining school years: Girls shine; boys fade.
Some responses suggested by researchers appear easy. Assign boys books that they find more appealing, for example. And bring them along gradually, so they don't quit.
But in the end, the problem runs much deeper. It surely won't be fixed until educators first come to see that it exists
What others are saying
Rod Paige, U.S. Education secretary: "The good news is that girls have narrowed or completely erased the educational learning gap with boys. Unfortunately, boys now seem to be falling behind, and this is particularly a problem in minority communities. The key is early support and intervention."
Michael Gurian, author, Boys and Girls Learn Differently : "Our schools of education - including those at many of our most prestigious universities - don't train young teachers in the biological differences between how boys and girls learn. The teachers are therefore not fully prepared to take on boys' minds in schools. Our school classrooms themselves - at all grade levels - favor the female mind's way of acquiring and processing information. Many boys are simply set up not to succeed."
Robert Massa, admissions director, Dickinson College: "After centuries of under representation in higher education, women have been actively encouraged - appropriately so - to attend. The parallel encouragement of men has been lacking. With an increase in single-parent households, the lack of male role models in education, and a slower maturity rate for boys, we can understand why men have fallen significantly behind women in college attendance rates."
Barbara Sprung, co-director, Educational Equity Concepts: "Boys pick up cues from the world around them - from the toys they are given to the TV programs they watch - that reading and writing are more for girls than boys. This attitude has negative consequences for their future education. The problem begins before kindergarten." http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=679&ncid=742&e=1&u=/usatoday/20041203/cm_usatoday/whatothersaresaying