Recently, somebody landed on my site with the search phrase “should boys be homeschooled.” Unfortunately, they didn’t find the answer to their question here. However, it did make me think (YES, sometimes I do think, despite what I said in my last post). As the homeschooling parent of 3 boys, I have definite opinions on the subject.
First, let me recommend a great article about boys and school. This link is to a small section of a larger story about boys in our society. The entire article is well worth reading if you have the time (follow the links on the page I have linked here). It is by Michael Thompson, Ph.D., host of the PBS documentary Raising Cain and he covers issues about agressiveness, school and masculinity.
I don’t think the differences between boys and girls are necessarily a stereotype (though my occasional reader, Cerulean Bill, may disagree!). There are some differences that I have observed over and over that seem to be hard-wired into boys. That’s not to say that some girls aren’t also wired similarly, or that some boys aren’t wired differently, it is just less common.
I used to think that we were just seeing boys differently because that is what we expected. But alas, my boys are definitely different (as the sixth girl in a family of girls, I may have a limited view though). I can’t remember the last time I saw a pile of girls. This isn’t because we discourage this sort of behavior in girls either. This just isn’t something girls do. Period. The activity level of boys dictates this sort of behavior. They are constantly on the move, looking for ways to have fun. My boys in particular are always pushing the limits. They play hard, fast and rough, and inevitably someone gets hurt. They know this, yet they keep doing it. They can’t help it.
So here’s how I’ll tie all this into education — schools discourage the sort of activity level typically found in boys. Should we corral them in and force them to comply? Afterall, they won’t be able to act this way in their jobs, right? Should we force them to sit down and read or write at the age of 5? To sit still and listen and pay attention for extended periods of time? Should we punish them for NOT behaving that way by taking away their recess?
Thompson offers several recommendations for schools (these are discussed in more depth in the article):
– Let them play.
– Create learning activities where boys use their bodies.
– Let boys read (and listen to) books that appeal to their interests.
– Read aloud to boys and have them read aloud to you.
– Allow boys to write about what interests them instead of what interests you.
– Allow discussion of topics boys may want to talk about (but teachers and girls may not).
– Allow boys to express humor in appropriate ways and at appropriate times.
Those are all great suggestions. Do you think this happens in the classroom? Do teachers have the time and resources to differentiate educational opportunities this way? I’m thinking not. They don’t even have the time and resources to differentiate educational opportunities for those who are identified as needing those opportunities, and technically required to receive them.
So Should Boys Be Homeschooled? You know what I think.