Friday, December 09, 2005

Home Educating Boys

Perhaps this article in the Washington Post provides at least a partial explanation for the fact that there are more boys than girls in home education.

to quote:
"Beginning in very early grades, the sit-still, read-your-book, raise-your-hand-quietly, don't-learn-by-doing-but-by-taking-notes classroom is a worse fit for more boys than it is for most girls."

"a classroom of 30 kids, about five boys will begin to fail in the first few years of pre-school and elementary school. By fifth grade, they will be diagnosed as learning disabled, ADD/ADHD, behaviorally disordered or "unmotivated."

"Boys have a lot of Huck Finn in them -- they don't, on average, learn as well as girls by sitting still, concentrating, multitasking, listening to words. For 20 years, I have been taking brain research into homes and classrooms to show teachers, parents and others how differently boys and girls learn. Once a person sees a PET or SPECT scan of a boy's brain and a girl's brain, showing the different ways these brains learn, they understand. As one teacher put it to me, "Wow, no wonder we're having so many problems with boys."Yet every decade the industrial classroom becomes more and more protective of the female learning style and harsher on the male, yielding statistics such as these."

"I get hundreds of e-mails and letters every week, from parents, teachers and others who are beginning to realize that we must do for our sons what we did for our daughters in the industrialized schooling system -- realize that boys are struggling and need help. These teachers and parents are part of a social movement -- a boys' movement that started, I think, about 10 years ago. It's a movement that gets noticed for brief moments by the media (when Columbine happened, when Laura Bush talked about boys) and then goes underground again. It's a movement very much powered by individual women -- mainly mothers of sons -- who say things to me like the e-mailers who wrote, "I don't know anyone who doesn't have a son struggling in school," or, "I thought having a boy would be like having a girl, but when my son was born, I had to rethink things."

All of which can make you want to scream "There is an easy answer!" Home Education works for many boys. Often they decide to go back to school or college at a later stage but only when they feel ready, with the advantage that they have not already become disenchanted with the educational system and often when the system has started to play to their strengths, such as not asking them to concentrate on things that are of no interest to them, allowing them some self-determination in the learning process, and with the general sense that there is some point to what they are doing, that what they learn does answer the questions that they have.

All in all, it is worth respecting the educational choices that children make, since better learning is possible when we do.

HT: Danny, Homeschooling Dad


Julie said...

a classroom of 30 kids, about five boys will begin to fail in the first few years of pre-school and elementary school. By fifth grade, they will be diagnosed as learning disabled, ADD/ADHD, behaviorally disordered or "unmotivated."
Exactly! This describes my ds early education exactly!
Thank goodness I found out about HE-just wiah it was earlier than aged 13 though. Now after nearly 5 yrs of totally autonomous education, he is chooses to be at FE college doing 3 A levels and is loving every min, I am delighted to say.

Carlotta said...

That is such good news! And we also know of several others who have HEd in similar fashion and are now thriving in FE colleges of one sort or another.

Have just sat up with Ds, who has talked me through a strategy game that he invented during the past, rather quiet week. The game involves a considerable amount of calculation, mathematical and logical, an enormous amount of concentration, quite a bit of reading and writing with complex vocab. and a huge amount of enthusiasm.

This kind of learning would not translate into a classroom situation at all.

Becky said...

We started hs'ing because of our eldest, our daughter, but I've always said it will likely be our two boys who end up benefitting the most.

Whether it's the chance to spend time during the day with Dad (doing farm chores or helping with a construction project), come up with their own projects (5yo is pretending he is a scribe and copying out entire tool catalogue), or being able to learn the multiplication tables by hopping up and down the hallway, they would be stifled in the usual classroom setting.

Boys can certainly be boys in our household!

PS Hope everyone is healthier by now...