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Whoa, Momma!

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

Why do boys lag behind in school?



More bad education news for boys: Girls do better at reading in every state, in some cases by more than 10 percent. Why is this?

As the mother of boys, I've often joked that they are Gods' revenge on me for all the male-bashing I've done over the years. Nowadays I take up the cause of tailoring classrooms to how boys learn (like this one in Hillsborough County) giving them recess back and even indulging gross-out books if it gets them reading. 

In 2009, more girls than boys reached reading proficiency in every state, in some cases by more than 10 percentage points. The study looked at data from state tests (that would be the FCAT in Florida) in grades 4, 8 and high school and concluded gender gaps are closing more slowly than other gaps.

And it's not just in the U.S., it's a global problem.

Some have argued that the basic problem is an increased emphasis on verbal skills, often taught in sedate ways that girls pick up quickly but tend to bore boys. “The world has gotten more verbal,” writes Richard Whitmire, author of Why Boys Fail. “Boys haven’t."

If you can't change your classroom, at home you can encourage reading. A Web site,, offers useful lists of books to coax boys into reading, and they are helpfully sorted into categories like “ghosts,” “boxers, wrestlers, ultimate fighters,” and “at least one explosion.” My personal favorite is the Capt. Underpants series, especially The Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants

We obviously don't want to inhibit girls from achieving at high levels, but we must pay more attention to why boys don't do better.

--Sharon Kennedy Wynne

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[Last modified: Saturday, January 8, 2011 2:11pm]


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