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Educating Boys

For discussions related to education and educational institutions.
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Nick
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Re: Educating Boys

#81 Post by Nick » February 25th, 2011, 5:03 pm

Latest post of the previous page:

So sorry to hear such bad experiences, Marian. You are right to be angry. Years ago there was a radio programme about disabilities called "Does He Take Sugar?" (The point being that they should ask the person concerned, not his carer.) For those of us not directly involved, we all need a reality check every now and then, and it seems it's time for the staff to be reminded that the school is for the benefit of the kids, not the teachers.


Looking back at this thread, I am struck by how little discussion we actually had about the topic I raised originally. We had all sorts of discussion about types of education, licence fees and down-loads, but nothing about Malone's implied question behind his series: "why are (some) boys not succeeding in schools?" I had a look to see if I could find any record of the programmes (You-tube etc., ) but failed. In the course of my searches, I came across a mumsnet thread which was similarly diverted. It seemed as if every time a mum wanted to discuss her son's education in the light of the programme, the thread was derailed by others saying things like "And why shouldn't girls have a fun education too?" Well, maybe they should, but that wasn't the question raised, was it?

I hope it's repeated. I expect there will be some sort of follow up, just to further Malone's career. Incidentally, he is now the proud father of a daughter, so maybe mumsnet mums will get their wish... :D

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Sel
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Re: Educating Boys

#82 Post by Sel » February 25th, 2011, 6:15 pm

A bit late into the discussion but allow me to put in my wee bit.

Boys fail in school because the system is set up for girls. It is that simple. Compliance reaps rewards in the classroom. This stymies an active boy looking for a challenging activity or learning experience. Boys in general are not as compliant nor as quiet as girls.

I taught Junior High Math/Science in a high-needs school - usually 7th grade 11-12 yr olds. In order to get the attention of the boys, I/we had to be inventive. Those little monkeys need too move about, discuss (it would get very noisy!) and have some input into how and what they are about to do.

My partner and I created integrated study units that included all of the major subjects. Our most successful was a three month project called Space Camp. Geography, social studies, language arts, math and science were all incorporated into the plan.

This unit allowed the students to form groups with like minded students and to approach the assignments in their own ways - within the limits of our two classrooms. Our classrooms were filled with hands-on stuff and resources. Actually, it was a real mess! My partner and I would frequently regroup the classes, thus forcing students to consider new groups. The students loved this year of their schooling - frequently begging to stay on after a class change to continue on a project. That, by the way is not normal behaviour!

The boys were thrilled because they got to move around, get involved and get excited about their ideas and assignments rather than sit and fill in yet another boring worksheet.

Of course there are girls with learning styles similar to many boys, too. I would not approve of separating the two sexes as they need to learn how to respect one and other and how to co-operate with those who have skills, learning styles and ideas different from their own. Each has something to offer the other...as in the real world outside of the classroom.
"The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge." Bertrand Russell

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Dave B
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Re: Educating Boys

#83 Post by Dave B » February 25th, 2011, 8:39 pm

Yup, none of that primitive stuff like "rights of passage", painful indoctrination into the rites and responsibilities of being a hunter, no lion to kill to gain manhood and access to girls trained to play a little hard to get but be compliant in the end and have lots of healthy kids . . .

Not much ritual fighting now to learn the skills needed to survive in life - though some might do a little boxing or judo or something like that.

I am not being sarcastic, Sel, there is a dimension missing out of the lives of all kids - we are, in evolutionary terms, a mere step beyond the hominid one before Cro Magnon, we still have a stone age psychology at our core, modified by and filtered through a gloss of modern knowledge and expected behaviour - which is not really "natural" to us.

Aw, just give me a stone tipped spear, point me at the nearest woolly mammoth and I'll go get tomorrow's lunch!

(Have you read Jean Auel's "Earth's Children" series, starting with "Clan of the Cave Bear"?)
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
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Dave B
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Re: Educating Boys

#84 Post by Dave B » February 25th, 2011, 8:55 pm

Coincidence, after posting the above I went back to my sci-fi book ("The Tomorrow Log"). I turned to a new page and read:

"At first he had not understood the fat man's insistence in asking these questions, on seeking reassurance, as if he were a boy rather than an adult, Tried and Named and Tested. . . . Within the fat man's culture there was no Testing nor Trying, one might go from womb to pyre carrying one's milk name."

I suppose sports are about the only outlet for those that like such things - I know that I tried to avoid sport like the plague! But I would climb a tree, a rock, go into a cave or do any other dangerousish activity that meant I could test and stretch myself a bit physically. But still came back to the books and Mechano!
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
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Nick
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Re: Educating Boys

#85 Post by Nick » February 25th, 2011, 9:10 pm

I love the idea of your Space Camp, Sel! I was only saying the other day (to anyone who would listen!) if I were teaching kids of that age, I would this year use the Olympics as a theme. Within that theme you could easily include many subjects, eg geography (the countries involved), biology (how muscles are used in different sports), physics (the power of the bicycle and so on), history (Greeks and modern Olympians), English (Journalism or marketing), maths (crowd numbers, or probabilities, finances), languages (act as an interpreter for visiting teams or visitors) and so on. I got quite excited! A lot of work to organise, but it would make the subjects much more relevant for the kids.

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Sel
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Re: Educating Boys

#86 Post by Sel » February 25th, 2011, 10:32 pm

Dave B wrote:Yup, none of that primitive stuff like "rights of passage", painful indoctrination into the rites and responsibilities of being a hunter, no lion to kill to gain manhood and access to girls trained to play a little hard to get but be compliant in the end and have lots of healthy kids . . .

(Have you read Jean Auel's "Earth's Children" series, starting with "Clan of the Cave Bear"?)

Yes. Our poor boys are stuck with all that energy and no where but sports is it acceptable to employ it. Pity really. We are boring them to death.
And yes - read several of Auel's books...3 if memory serves.

Nick wrote: A lot of work to organise, but it would make the subjects much more relevant for the kids.
You bet it was a lot of work but seeing the little monsters actually enjoy themselves and dig into projects with zest was a real payoff.

We did not find it difficult to tie curriculum into any project we invented. However, we would occasionally stop the project and work on basic curriculum to be sure nothing was being left behind. Kids being all too human would focus on their favorite stuff and slough off topics they did not like.

Your idea of a unit based on the Olympics is exactly dead on. The possibilities are endless. With the available technology the kids cold produce Olympic programming as well.
"The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge." Bertrand Russell

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Val
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Re: Educating Boys

#87 Post by Val » February 26th, 2011, 7:39 pm

Jean Aeul has now published the 6th in the series Earth's Children. I read the first four and then stopped reading novels. I may well buy the 6th one because I think I could pick up her theme easily. Clan of the Cave Bear has been filmed and a very realistic job they made of it too.

I also got excited at Nick's idea about using the olympics as a teaching mechanism. How I would love to be involved in something such as that, although I have no teaching skills nor experience. It fired my imagination.

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Dave B
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Re: Educating Boys

#88 Post by Dave B » February 26th, 2011, 8:45 pm

Yes. Our poor boys are stuck with all that energy and no where but sports is it acceptable to employ it.
Did I detect a slight case of tongue in cheek there Sel? :smile:

I do feel that we are dealing with fundamental forces here, instincts and drives, that are environmentally ancient and that will be with us for millennia to come probably. It is not a small thing because, in terms of the larger society, it causes a degree of trouble and costs a lot of public money.

There may be a kind of "tribal" element there as well. Listening today to a BBC Radio 4 prog (Saturday Live), sort of family magazine effort with memories, experiences, poetry and all kinds of things. There was an item there with a mum and son talking about skate boarding. I always thought of such as sad people, never really grew up in some ways, bit like train brains and games nerds. Seems that the lad was in the habit of just saving for a ticket and flying out to . . . anywhere he could afford.

One trip he landed in New York. Within an short period he was involved in some local skate boarders, rites of passage almost certainly involved to be accepted in the group. Seems that led to new friends and somewhere to stay. The lad obviously had some initiative.

A nephew of mine was no great shakes in school work terms but spent a lot of spare time as a kid taking Day Rovers on London buses and visiting museums etc. I used to slip him the odd couple of quid to help. He, accidentally, got involved with gardening about 30 years ago. He was recently appointed head curator of the Chelsea Physic Garden. His independence, sense of adventure etc paid of.

Another nephew was illiterate at 12. His best mate's dad was also illiterate but owned a building company and had a small fortune - why bother? But he was fascinated by magic tricks. We challenged him to learn them from books if we bought all the kit he needed. He did. He then went to catering college and passed all the exams with flying colours and landed a plum job at a posh London restaurant - moved on since.

A bit of well considered external influence and motivation applied at the right time can work wonders. But how many of today's parents have the time or inclination to devote the amount of time and effort required? I watched my friend Carol's son Giles grow from a 9yo whose dad did a runner to a, now, 26 year old with buckets of self confidence and ability in several fields, even if he is a train brain - but that "tribal" alliance is a large part of the picture. He is only a temp for the Post Office parcel service (in the depot) but saved them £5000 in his first three months there. Now his job is on the line - but he will be getting a glowing personal reference from his line manager if the senior managers decide he must go in the cuts!

I did notice that, during adolescence, a very interesting relationship with his mother developed. She did her best to push him away, though she did the usual washing and cooking for him etc. I was a little worried but then got a whiff of him one day. He was at the point of sexual maturity and smelt like it - was mum "driving" him from the nest to prevent any chance of his developing an, er, "inappropriate" relationship. Was it time for him to start thinking about leaving home and looking for a mate of his own? And if he did not leave he the "pushing" would get stronger? (He has now shacked up with Rachel for 4 years and they get on great, sharing some things but having independent interests and spending time apart on these as well.)

Ancient drives surfacing once more?
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

ecaterina
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Re: Educating Boys

#89 Post by ecaterina » February 26th, 2011, 11:00 pm

Emma Woolgatherer wrote:Is everyone here comfortable with the idea that boys and girls should somehow be taught differently?
isnt it amazing that in this day & age there are still boys-only and girls-only schools? bizarre.. imo and yet...
:question:

lewist
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Re: Educating Boys

#90 Post by lewist » February 27th, 2011, 8:58 am

Dave B wrote:
...no where but sports is it acceptable to employ it...
Did I detect a slight case of tongue in cheek there Sel? :smile:

skate boarders... The lad obviously had some initiative.

A nephew of mine was no great shakes in school work terms but spent a lot of spare time as a kid taking Day Rovers on London buses and visiting museums etc.

Another nephew was illiterate at 12. His best mate's dad was also illiterate but owned a building company and had a small fortune - why bother? ...
Is it not interesting that the 'illiterate', the 'thick', and so on can end up successful or even in a position to buy and sell us all? There is too much emphasis on international league tables which look at 'achievement' in a very narrow range of areas, namely maths, native language and science and too little understanding of the fact that people have ranges of abilities or intelligences.

As for sport, as a headteacher, I had a small trickle of parents who came to me to express their gratitude for the fact that we introduced their children (especially their sons) to sports other than football. We took them skiing, orienteering and dinghy sailing and more than one parent told me, he's not into football...

I am convinced that boys and girls should be educated together in coeducational schools. They need to learn to understand each other. Primary teachers have been learning since the sixties to cater for individual differences. If boys and girls need a different response, what's the problem? They don't need different establishments.
Carpe diem. Savour every moment.

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Dave B
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Re: Educating Boys

#91 Post by Dave B » February 27th, 2011, 9:58 am

I agree happily with what you say, lewist. Time for a more pragmatic approach? Time to "match" the child's abilities with aims given? And definitely time to reduce the barrier between which sex does what. In our local state secondary school boys happily attend cooking lessons and girls do wood and metalwork (these concurrent and it is left up to the pupil to chose IIRC.)

In the (admittedly CofE) local infant/primary school there is a well attended early morning co-ed football club, also "non-touch" rugby run by the Glos rugby club.

It is a pity that more adventurous activities are often the realm of those with parents that can afford it, never enough council funds for such it seems.
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

lewist
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Re: Educating Boys

#92 Post by lewist » February 27th, 2011, 1:06 pm

Dave B wrote:It is a pity that more adventurous activities are often the realm of those with parents that can afford it, never enough council funds for such it seems.
We had Hillend artificial ski slope which ran ski courses specifically for schools and Low Port Centre ran lots of outdoor pursuits at low cost. In those days it was possible to do a lot for very little.

Of the two best footballers I can remember one was a girl called Becky who later played for the England women's team. When she was there we didn't need the ten boys.
Carpe diem. Savour every moment.

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Alan H
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Re: Educating Boys

#93 Post by Alan H » February 27th, 2011, 2:20 pm

The Low Port Centre in Linlithgow? I used to live just up the road from there.
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Sel
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Re: Educating Boys

#94 Post by Sel » February 27th, 2011, 3:33 pm

Dave B wrote:
Yes. Our poor boys are stuck with all that energy and no where but sports is it acceptable to employ it.
Did I detect a slight case of tongue in cheek there Sel? :smile:
Perhaps...But not directed towards the boys but rather towards a system that feels one solution fits all. Every student deserves an opportunity to enjoy learning in a way that suits his/her skills and personality. It is also imperative that we begin to focus on their strengths rather than spending increasingly more time and energy trying to solve their weaknesses. That is hard on the system and even tougher on the kids.

Students learn by doing, by being involved with the material. My motto: "the learning starts when the teacher stops talking."
"The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge." Bertrand Russell

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Dave B
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Re: Educating Boys

#95 Post by Dave B » February 27th, 2011, 5:24 pm

Sel, you could be thinking with my brain on that, I 100% agree with you.
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
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Sel
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Re: Educating Boys

#96 Post by Sel » February 27th, 2011, 6:02 pm

Dave B wrote:Sel, you could be thinking with my brain on that, I 100% agree with you.
Well...I have found my home! Most people think I am several pennies short of a dollar. Although I am no philosopher and God(ha) knows I have trouble presenting a reasonable argument, I am not one to accept ideas at their face value and am constantly questioning and searching for better solutions in all aspects of life. Accepting the status quo is a no go.

This irreverent personalty and stance has gotten me into deep water in my career as well as my personal life. Apparently women should not rock the boat...even in 2011!

But geesh, I am now way off topic...another fault. :innocence: :shrug:
"The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge." Bertrand Russell

Nick
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Re: Educating Boys

#97 Post by Nick » February 28th, 2011, 5:38 pm

lewist wrote:Is it not interesting that the 'illiterate', the 'thick', and so on can end up successful or even in a position to buy and sell us all? There is too much emphasis on international league tables which look at 'achievement' in a very narrow range of areas, namely maths, native language and science and too little understanding of the fact that people have ranges of abilities or intelligences.
Hmmm... the 'illiterate' and the 'thick' can end up successful. Indeed, some of the most economically successful may well be in that camp, precisely because of how they respond to their situation. However, I would have thought that many, many more of the 'illiterate' and 'thick' find that their economic (and hence human) development is badly impacted by their lack of formal education as their choices in life are severely restricted. We can't all be James Goldsmiths or Richard Breansons.
I am convinced that boys and girls should be educated together in coeducational schools. They need to learn to understand each other. Primary teachers have been learning since the sixties to cater for individual differences. If boys and girls need a different response, what's the problem? They don't need different establishments.
I am the product of a sngle sex education from 11-18. From personal experience, I think it is important that there is more interaction between boys and girls than I had. However, are you saying that boys and girls should be educated exclusively in the same classes, as well as in co-ed. schools? The whole point of Malone's programme was that boys had been failed by that approach, and I, for one, found that convincing. (It's a pity you missed the original broadcast.) It's possible, of course, that girls are being failed too, but that's a different argument.

Nick
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Re: Educating Boys

#98 Post by Nick » February 28th, 2011, 5:41 pm

BTW, Panarama this evening is about the employment of ex-soldiers as teachers. I had a few of those when I was at school! May be interesting...

Nick
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Re: Educating Boys

#99 Post by Nick » March 1st, 2011, 11:09 pm

As indeed it was!

Did anyone else see it?

The NUT came out spectacularly poorly (,though to be fair, they weren't given much of a chance).

If you missed it, it can be viewed here.

Nick
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Re: Educating Boys

#100 Post by Nick » March 1st, 2011, 11:10 pm

Oops! Double post. This one can be ignored or deleted. :)

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