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The topic on this week's Behind the classroom door from northern Illinois universities college of education is. Why do boys get lower grades than girls. Here's the moderator Dean Robert after top. Well boys vs girls the battle of the sexes continues forever I guess. But one of the interesting facts of life in school for boys and girls is that boys don't get the school marks that they deserve. Now I'll have to hurry on to qualify that a little bit the fact of the matter it is that boys don't get as high grades in school as girls do. And we come to that point of graduation from high school the upper half of the high school graduating classes occupied 60 percent by girls. But we need to analyze this a little further but I think we can agree that is factual. Boys don't get the marks. As high marks as girls get in school all the way through high school at least and perhaps to some extent on
through college. We say that school learning should proceed according to individual differences and that teachers should take these differences into consideration. Verbal lay teachers say they do this but in practice they tend to overlook or disregard the most important individual difference of all. I'm referring of course to the sex difference as they affect one's learning achievement and indeed one's orientation to the whole world. Our schools attempt to create an atmosphere that is sex neutral. Operating as though boys and girls are alike in the ways in which they learn and achieve. In my opinion it makes a great deal of difference whether the person we are teaching is a boy or is a girl. And that instructional provision should be made to take these sex differences in the consideration. Doesn't it also make a difference will whether the teacher is male or
female. Well I think that would be part of it that be part of this orientation that I'm talking. Oh enough with regard to the level of grades given boys and girls. The studies indicate that both male teachers and female teachers give girls higher grades and I think Leo you hit upon it the classroom as a kind of a feminine atmosphere rather than a drill. Furthermore it's an artificial situation where you have to sit down for long periods of time and boys just aren't much good at this. I think research is showing the differences in the gene that are based more on the temperament attitude and interests of the children than on the differences in ability. I think that's been true in our schools. Isn't it true though that in terms of your environments that the early grades certainly the primary grades and to a certain degree the intermediate grades would be taught largely by
women so that the environment becomes a very feminine environment. And boys tend not to behave in a manner that a female teacher would expect a child to behave in another as a boy as a wrestle OSI moves around these belligerent he may be a prankster or more outspoken than a girl. And even all this environment changes at the secondary level by having more male teachers. By that time the boy is so conditioned to think of school as being so much famine and that would be very difficult for him to achieve when he's compared with girls. Well I still think though that. Men and women teachers expect out of all children whether they're boys or girls. The ability to sit for long periods of time and stop wiggling. They don't appreciate the child that challenges them
challenges them as a little bit aggressive and calls them on certain things and boys are more apt to do this than girls. They tend to magnify neatness. Papers should be written in a fine hand and the girls acquire this sooner than boys and teachers both male and female like punctuality and they like all of the things that girls seem to do very well unless they happen to be in physical education teachers. In fact we know by standardized tests. That boys do better actually. They measure better in terms of achievement in science and in mathematics and certain other areas. And girls are better in the verbal abilities as you've indicated Dr. Fox. And this gives them a head start. Perhaps perhaps it's an advantage they possess all their lives. Aren't you saying something about the teachers of the type of people who become teachers including the man. In other words is a person
who enters a teaching profession someone who highly. Praises or rewards. Middle class behavior yes. This may be entirely true I object to the relatively complete feminine atmosphere of the elementary schools or on the basis of the impact of the feminine personality versus the masculine personality unbolt boys and girls. I think girls need young men and in elementary schools as there are teachers starting from third grade and as much as boys I think we should almost have half and half throughout the careers of the children in elementary school. Perhaps the kindergarten and first grade teacher can be women better than men because they are making a transition from the home but very soon the masculine personality ought to have its impact. And there might
be something of benefit come out of this in terms of grades and in terms of changing the atmosphere of the classroom which we think is not what it ought to be. And as you mentioned earlier boys are superior to girls in some respects and girls to boys and others. And you mentioned I think mathematics and I think research has also shown that boys are superior in judgment while girls excel boys in memory. And I'm afraid that. In many classrooms the good memory is very valuable a very valuable asset and getting great. We might carry this a little farther along the curriculum definitely is presented in a way that makes more sense to girls than it does to boys. For example girls tend to see relationships among elements of a given area and boys tend to recognize relationships among broad content areas. So if a test item
calls for an understanding among elements or concepts in a given area it is likely that the girls in the class will perform better than the boys. On the other hand of the test items demand recognition of broad relationships among content the areas the boys will be favored. The school of land should. Test for both types of learning. Well you know another interesting section different term that we can generalize because studies have shown these to be true spatial judgment. In other words when you see a lady driving an automobile toward you get off the road. And I'm not leaving much space between you and her automobile and much space between that curb and her automobile the be sympathetic understand this and just get out of the way because the fact is that spatial judgment of women is not as good as that of men.
Another little aside because I'm well this could be significant. The fine muscle control and the tests that have been designed to measure fine muscle control such as using a pair of tweezers to put a bunch of little steel pins in the holes are inevitably exceeded the men are exceeded by the women and the skill of doing this. So women seem to have better fine muscle control and I think this shows up very early in life in the elementary school in handwriting I think being in one place certainly where it shows I wonder. Early on in terms of what you said. Certainly there would be indications that we should change the curriculum than to allow for greater participation on the part of the boys in these judge mental tasks which certainly would be just as important as the things that we know about the size.
This might be hard to design and furthermore everybody has to use judgment. Everybody has to learn to read in to get his basic arithmetic out of the way. Everybody has to acquire these skills whether he's a boy or a girl. But I think Gray that we should restructure the the program in the elementary school to give shorter periods of time. You know they say 30 minutes is not a long period of time for anybody to sit down but it's a long period of time for a little boy I who's screaming for exercise he just he's just eager and anxious to move. And he becomes wiggly and he can't sit still and becomes or gets reprimanded for that or at least it's certainly an indication that. A teacher in the elementary grades should provide a variety of activities including physical activities so that students during a period have an opportunity to move around from one group to another up to get reference books on
library use and as much physical activity as you can have and still maintain a desirable learning experience. So that's where the old school with this rigid discipline said it was wrong and created more problems than it solved I think a natural work situation where children can move around and get materials is important. You know I think what we're really saying here is that there's a good reason why the teacher needs to have a good background in child psychology child growth and development in order to understand all of these things in order in order that they can be fair in their grading. So what I want to review. We seem to agree that girls do better than boys because the present school situation. It seems to me that after several years in the for in the early grades of schools getting this kind of treatment that it's only
natural that boys develop a resistance to learning and to school as a place for him. You know we have. Were you through. You know we have forgotten. One of the most important differences and that is the maturation will rate that differs remarkably between boys and girls and they've established this clearly by x rays of the developing wrist bones and by other means. We have established very thoroughly that the average boy matures about one and a half years behind the average girl. He reaches puberty about that period of time behind the average girl. And along the way his spine muscles are behind the average girl in their development. And perhaps this pertains to social and emotional development to the boy just has a hard time keeping up with a girl of his seem
chronological age. I wonder if if we have so many differences between boys and girls in terms of learning situations. Why and why aren't we advocating non elimination of co-education. Well that's a leading question isn't it. Dr. Fox we feel that the benefits of boys in association with girls far outweigh the individual differences or the sexual differences and that skilled teachers and skilled parents ought to recognize that boys are boy age and make provision for them and that girls are girls and make provisions for them well and sooner or later they have to learn to work together to and even live together. Well I think the school should be made into an environment which permits. Girls to view men and boys as colleagues not as competitors. It should be an environment that allows them access to the lore of science and mathematics
and that boys need of freedom need freedom and encouragement to enjoy Korea to WITI and they need the opportunity and guidance to do to develop sensitivity to human motivations and feelings such as you would find in a school where both boys and girls are present. I wonder though at some ages if it doesn't make sense to segregate the sexes at least where part of their learning experiences. Seems to me that when I taught it did you in your high school level the main conversation among the girls was boys. They seemed to be much more concerned about the boys and what the boys were doing what the boys are thinking and about anything that was happening within the classroom. Now I agree that boys and girls have to learn to live together but I wonder if they couldn't do that in some aspects of the curriculum. You have to have part of the curriculum. Certain subjects English
social studies math and science for example talked separately and keyed toward the interest of the sexes seems id.. Many subjects mathematics for example the little exercises at the end of the textbook especially in the elementary schools and into the junior high tend to be feminine. How do you how do you have a recipe for so many people how do you do such and such and. Well I don't know if you get better reception reading the boys and girls for certain periods would have another advantage. I'm not advocating it because I'm thoroughly convinced that boys and girls ought to be into relating whether regardless of these things. But one advantage would be that the boys would be compared to the boys when it came to Gaven Grange and the girls would be compared to girls when it came to giving grades and we would discover that boys would get higher grades I think.
I think the problem we'd be confronted with in a situation like with it like that would be the one which were faced with now and that is where would you get the men teachers to staff a school which is for boys. I think if we could get more men teachers in the elementary school now we could overcome many of these problems. In this way I think we will in Iraq have I think for some reason or other our country our society. Has not encouraged young men to go into elementary education as much as into a high school education. There are some kind of a prestige factor involved here. European countries I understand there are many more men teaching in the elementary schools. It's too bad we can't somehow encourage this over here. Well our schools definitely are female dominant dominated and they have been developing in this direction for a long time. I think this occurred without the people involved being aware of what
they're doing and I'm referring to the women teachers to the women principals and supervisors and and the mothers of these children. So all that the elementary school today does and terms of bee havior and learning expectation makes excellent sense to these women teachers and to these mothers. Well it should make sense for them because they are mainly responsible for their. Development and that it fits them. And of course our major shortcomings in the curriculum of the elementary schools I believe are science. Which women in our culture are disinclined to be interested in and mathematics for which a similar condition seems to prevail. And so if you do get a young man in the elementary school I think very quickly he concentrates his attention attention on
science and mathematics and physical education. These are the things that have a more masculine are about them and it's a good thing because about the fifth grade to me. There's a real awakening of interest on the part of both boys and girls in excitement about an expanding environment in scientific things particularly seem to and transfer boys and girls. I'd like to see it capitalized on and somehow or other continue to encourage this as children go on through. Oh I think there are other reasons why boys are why girls tend to get better grades in school than boys. And I think some of these have to do with their activities outside of school. For example you just stop to think of the games. The boys play outside a school as compared to the games girls play. I think in terms in their own family life what the boys do in the home as compared to what the girls do in the home and I think in almost
every way the girls tend to develop those traits that help them in school more than the boys or homework just if any of you have boys and girls in your home you know the girls can come home and spend hours on the homework and do it up so neatly and nicely and be concerned about the impact the next day. Where's the little boys like to forget they have any homework they go out and play in about five minutes before it's time to go to bed they suddenly realize they didn't get their homework ready. But if you had many girls in your home it's surprising how many hours they spend Greenvale during the vacation period playing school. Yeah. And you don't find boys are playing school very often. If they could avoid it but perhaps because of what's happening in our society with the male member of the family being gone from the home. To a greater and greater degree it's all the more important that we have contacts with male teachers in elementary
school. I suppose this is truer of the inner city in which in many homes there would be no all male figure at all. But I wonder if being top in terms of what you were talking about before of science mathematics tend to be the neglected areas at the elementary school. If the movement that seems to be occurring although occurring with a great deal of opposition from some teachers the movement away from the self-contained classroom or the classroom in which one teacher teaches all subjects may not draw more men into the elementary school by especially at those grade levels that I've mentioned the fourth fifth and sixth grades which are frequently the upper grades of the elementary school. Well I think they own Dr. Fox that something has to change and some are that we have to motivate and
recruit more boys. At the close of their high school years to prepare themselves for elementary school teaching they've got to realize that it is a real challenging situation that you're working with a human psychology and that you can perhaps do more here than at any other level. And yet I'm discouraged frankly about the numbers of boys going into elementary education. Wish we could do something about it. I suppose it is difficult because the boy who is finishing high school on Dot contemplating a career tends to think of the type of elementary school he attended and if that was primarily taught by female teachers are predominantly taught by female teachers. That would be. Perhaps one of the last things that he would think of doing would be to go into elementary teaching and join that. But with team teaching
some specialization I think boys who are interested in teaching certain subjects such as science and math may go into the field. Right now I think many stay away from elementary teaching because they would want nothing to do with teaching music art and many of the areas that a soft contained classroom would have to their classroom teacher would have to teach a course if we had a man teacher teaching music and perhaps boys would get more interested in this and I think boys are becoming more interested in these subjects. I have to hark back to Dr. Laughlin statement about the elementary schools being controlled by the female segment of the population. I have to call attention to the fact that there are probably more elementary school principals that are men. Then there are female elementary school principals and but I do agree.
Leo You know that the general atmosphere in the gym the curriculum itself and the way of life and elementary schools is controlled by women naturally because 85 percent at least of our teachers in the elementary schools are women and this is wrong. What I think we have to do is convince both male and female teachers that boys have desirable qualities or that are different than the qualities of girls we need this aggressiveness don't we. As a boy or anybody faces life in the future aggressiveness is a kind of a courage that's necessary to face the realities of life. We like to imagine the man and a woman facing life together as husband and wife supplement each other and the boy gets out there and works hard as a man and is as creative in and aggressively trying to make a living. So we don't want to stop this. I think we want to encourage masculine
qualities in boys and feminine qualities in girls. I wonder if. Could play the devil's advocate for a moment and say that if a listener heard everything we've said that the girl's verbal skills are greater than the boys she is need or turns and better work. She spends more time doing her homework. She tends to do those things that she's expected to do in elementary school and when the listener have a logical question why shouldn't a girl get higher grades than the boy. Well she and I were just doing everything that we did for a it seems to me that she should get to have some answers for this. Well you're assuming that the listener that you're referring to is a woman aren't you. Naturally she would think that her with our comments about driving I think that maybe somebody should know that when there's a real answer Dr. Fox says that girls don't know more than boys in all
elements of learning that there are some differences as we pointed out that the girls are better in reading and writing in oral presentations. But that boys are better in science and in the arithmetic but the fact of the matter is girls even get higher grades in science at certain levels than boys simply because of the neatness and thoroughness and know of the other elements that are really peripheral when it comes to what is important in learning. Yet I suppose we wouldn't want to base a grade entirely upon Shimon to the way a boy does and she's been tossed. I would think that neatness is a desirable trait in our call this year and that we would be trying to develop neatness but it's not as important as knowing the facts. And yet we know repeatedly that English teachers will grade themes and we've even researched this that the person who writes in a very poor hand but has a lot to say isn't likely to be graded is high
as a person who is neat and submits something that may be mediocre. But if the school is prepare a person for society isn't it true that if a person wrote a very messy looking letter applying for a job or or a business letter that would be very messy. You have only my secretary that would take care of that. In other words the strengths would supplement and compliment each other. Well I think as long as we are going to have these elementary schools staffed by women that we're going to have this female approach to elementary education or a female approach to reality. It seems to me that. We must not expect boys to conform to this. Female situation which we've created in the elementary school and that these women teachers must recognize that these are boys and
they are going to encounter and counter some difficulties in working with these boys as they expect in the car conform. Of course I've been at the college level. Dr. Laughlin we men teachers. Like to have a term paper handed in typed and well organized and punctual. We don't want it two days late after we have already drawn up our final grades. So it isn't just the feminine nature. They are early teachers It causes are less. I want to comment too that are saying about the same thing and that is that this problem not only exists at the elementary school level it exists at the high school level and in college too. I go so far as to say Lloyd that even though exists on the graduate school level. Well perhaps we've started a new battle of the sexes. I hope not because I believe that men and women contribute to society in their
particular ways. They are different and that's a good thing. There are different when it comes to giving remarks to boys and girls we should not expect boys to have the same qualities and the same strengths that girls have. Behind the classroom door produced by W WHEN ARE YOU AT found in cooperation with the College of Education at Northern Illinois University each week focuses its attention on one of the many challenging aspects of public school education. The program is moderated by Dr. Robert F. top dean of the College of Education at Northern Illinois University. Today's guest were Dr. Raymond B Fox associate dean at the College of Education. Dr. Leo Laughlin head of the Department of Administration and services and Dr. Lloyd Leonard head of the department of elementary education. Next week's topic will be how good are our public schools. This program is distributed by the national educational radio network.
Behind the Classroom Door
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Behind the Classroom Door is a radio series from WNIU-FM about education in the United States. In each episode, faculty from the Northern Illinois University College of Education address specific issues related to public school education and operation. The program is produced in cooperation with Northern Illinois University and distributed by the National Educational Radio Network.
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