Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Go ACLU! Sue Sue!

This story makes my eyeballs burn. I'd bet serious money that this "research" they are using is seriously flawed. It's a myth I have no patience for-- this idea that boys and girls have different brains are therefor learning styles. So girls should sit quietly at desks (non-competitive atmosphere) and boys should run and play in the sunshine (cause sitting in a desk is too hard for them).

It's school-sanctioned sexism and it's bogus. Of course if you interview a young girl or boy they'll think the opposite sex is 'yucky' and want to have their own space. But when you teach children that they are different because of what's between their legs, you set a dangerous precedent.

Girls may be more socialized to sit still and be quiet. Boys may be socialized to be more aggressive. This does NOT prove that our brains are all wired by gender. There are thousands of hardcore female athletes that will tell you this.

My best friend's sister is 14 and has been a competitive athlete since she could walk. I bet she'd rather be outside running and learning too but because she's a girl, she'd be sitting at her desk. Don't tell me girls aren't competitive or aggressive ... she could kick my ass and I'm 24.

More importantly, we need to expect more from our boys. Fifty years ago schools had all students in desks, facing the teacher, listening quietly to lectures. Go even further back when education was something strictly for young men, do you think professors had them outside running relays? NO. They sat quietly in a desk.

Now, I'm not knocking these educational methods that are outside the box. I think it would be great if they took the whole class outside and had them run and play in the sunshine while learning. But acting like we have to do this because they're boys and they can't sit still is insulting!

What are you setting these children up for? In adult society, they may have to:

A) Sit at a desk and work (not always but in a great many jobs)


B) Work with women as equals. Women have PROVEN themselves qualified to work alongside men in every field - whether quiet desk work or physical work like construction.

If we teach children differently, we put them all at a disadvantage and set them up (especially the girls) for sexism.


Ouyangdan said...

If they are so hell bent on teaching in a way that caters to different learning styles, why don't they do both for both? Too many schools are eliminating curricula that get kids up and moving and out from behind their desks. Ten years ago my HS only required one semester of PE. Elementary schools are cutting recess and music and art.

Teach the kids at desks, teach them outside. Get them in as many different learning situations as possible. Just do it together.

Thanks, Tobes.

Adrienne said...

As an educator, I can pretty safely say that this is a confusing issue, and you will probably get a different response from every educator you ask. My kids are YOUNG.... 18 months to 2 1/2 years old... so I'd LIKE to say that they are not yet 'socialized' to do anything and are still within their 'purest' personality. I have read an article that said that boys have a hard time sitting still, so if you give them a stress ball or something else that they can transfer their energy to while they are listening, then they will do better at sitting still.

However, the issue here is broader than you think. The REAL problem is that schools are competing for rank among the district (thank you NCLB) and are also crippled by poorly trained teachers and crumbling facilities and overcrowding. What these schools are TRYING to do is find the best way to educate to the largest group possible for the least amount of money, time, and effort. And the sad reality is that that is what is NECESSARY in our schools right now.

What would solve this problem is to pay teachers what they are worth (so that qualified educators don't have to leave the field in order to provide for their families), build facilities large enough to accommodate for growing communities and drop the ratios: one teacher to a class of 30 (even 25, I'd say) is STAGGERING. I have a class of 12 and I can honestly say that if it were JUST me in there, there would be no way that I could give those kids the individualized, on their level, one-on-one attention that they need. This school is probably SO frustrated that they are being sued, because they were just looking for something-- anything-- that would WORK. Our education system is totally broken.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if part of the issue may be that originally, only boys were allowed to study (inside, at desks) because girls "weren't smart enough" to do so. Except then, when women started to go to school as well, they found they had to do twice as well to get half the recognition, and they learned to be better than the boys at everything required by formal schooling (just as women do in all male-dominated areas).

Except, of course, that it's unacceptable for girls to outperform boys! Up until now, we've responded to girls' "disproportionate" success in formal schooling by writing increasingly-frantic news stories about our "boy crisis" and how boys are falling behind (since the girls raised the standards). It happened in professional piano playing-- female pianists began playing from memory in order to be competitive with male pianists (twice as good for half the credit) and essentially forced all professional pianists to play from memory lest they admit that they couldn't do something a GIRL could do.

Unfortunately, it seems our "boy crisis" is so immense that we cannot convince boys to outperform girls by enough (perhaps since they know they'll get handed the better jobs and better pay no matter what their test scores?) and so we've gone the alternate route-- because girls are so good at learning in a formal environment, clearly that is not a valuable way to learn. Our boys are too good to learn cooped up at desks-- we have to let them outside to play!

If only we could just focus on education, instead of monitoring who is "winning" at education, I suspect we'd all be a lot better off. Girls do better than boys in a classroom setting. They have to. It's still not enough to get them equal pay for equal work. That's the real problem. Not "saving boys" from their own "unacceptable" underperformance.

Tobes said...

Gotta say, whenever I see a comment from an anonymous, I get nervous. But that was an amazing point. Very excellent *claps* and yet... depressing :(

Anonymous said...

Learning style isn't determined by gender,it's brain dominance. Left brained people "the logical side"is considered to prefer doing book-work, while the Right brained people,who are considered to be creative,prefer doing things that are active.I don't think it's got anything to do with gender.