Why are the boys still behind in reading?

That’s what one wonders, baffled, reading this article. After all, the school had segregated the classes by sex and assigned each class perfectly gender-stereotyped books to read.

At the end of the pilot last year, assessments of reading and writing showed that the boys’ marks had increased by a full grade. But the girls’ reading and comprehension skills had improved even more.

What could have gone wrong? Oh… I don’t know… maybe it has something to do with assigning the boys COMIC BOOKS to read instead of literature. Nah….

Pleasingly, there’s quite an uproar over this in the Science Fiction blogosphere, with bloggers wondering why they boys are getting age inappropriate comics while the girls get to read about midwives. A sample. (Thanks, Jender-Brother!)

5 thoughts on “Why are the boys still behind in reading?

  1. this is a reason to feel happy about our fearless leader: obama seems very keen on pumping more money into educational theory. i suppose all the ed theory in the world isn’t going to make people not have ridiculous ideas about gender, but i suspect that it would at least make people less likely to think that giving comics instead of proper books to *any* student, boy or girl, was a good idea. (boys like death! it’s just a fact about boys! incredible.)

  2. Exactly, lp, and they ALL are death-obsessed. If you see a boy who is any different, you are seeing a parents’ failure.

    (JOKE! One worries about what sounds plausible these days.)

  3. So it seems to me that one of the flaws in reasoning here is that sex is a very crude measure of learning style. As with most things sex-related, there is usually a greater area of overlap than of difference among the sexes. This is why they are “trends” rather than “absolutes.” So even if ON AVERAGE boys and girls do better in different learning environments, why would it make sense to segregate them based on sex, rather than trying to determine whether this PARTICULAR boy or girl does better in this PARTICULAR learning environment.? And if we are willing to go to that level of analysis, couldn’t we also determine whether a flexible learning environment that caters to many styles (rather than artificially categorizing these according to sex) may be the most beneficial?

    In Canada, where I am from, we have recently undergone a similar debate about race and education with some opting to re-segregate the schools to give minority cultures a better sense of themselves. This seems totally backward to me, since it would seem that the false arrogance inculcated by thinking that your perspective is the default one and that of “Others” (in this case of Black Canadians) is the minority is also damaging to social justice. One cannot work for equality by focusing only on the oppressed, but must also look at the views held by the majority and how these may contribute to oppression.

  4. bakka: re-segregating schools?? wow! it amazes me that schools would be allowed to do that! but yes, you bring up a good point about this reading thing: why not set up different classes for different learning styles and then*test*, or something, to determine who would do best with which? if you really want to make things better, why be lazy?

  5. Yeah, they have set up “Africentric” schools. http://www.thestar.com/News/article/298714 the idea is to make the curriculum more appealing to black students by actually including black history, black authors and so forth in what the students learn. The point was to stop the horrendous drop-out rate among black students, which was as high as 40%. So it is not all schools, and it is not mandatory. It gives all students (you don’t have to be black to go, but it is expected most will be) the option of learning a different kind of curriculum from more diverse teachers and administrators. So it is a good idea as far as including more diversity. But it seems to me, it would have been better to change the curriculum for everyone so that no student gets a false impression that Canadian history is white history.

    In Canada, we really don’t understand our own racist history. At least in the United States, most people are aware of slavery and school segregation. In Canada, we think that never happened here. In fact, this Washington Times article http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/jan/28/toronto-plans-canadas-first-black-school/ says of these schools, “Critics have reacted viscerally, calling the plan a step toward the sort of segregation that once troubled U.S. schools but has seldom been an issue in Canada.” But school segregation has been an issue in Canada. Sylvia Hamilton directed an excellent film called “Little Black School House” http://www.movingimages.ca/catalogue/Canhistory/littleblackschoolhouse.html that details the history of school segregation in Canada. Our last segregated school did not close until 1983.

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