Boys will be...

Title: Boys will be...
Focus: Challenging misconceptions about gender differences

“Boys will be boys” is a saying that is regularly used to justify unruly behaviour in our sons, male students or boys that we see in public. This saying needs to be changed to “boys will be brilliant” or not used at all.

Please have a go at answering the true or false questions below, the answers for them and the reasons will be explained later...

1. Boys and girls mature at the same rate
2. Boys perform worse than girls at coursework and long projects
3. Boys like competition
4. Boys need a loud and commanding authority figure
5. Boys presentation will mainly be worse than girls, regardless

1. Boys and girls mature at the same rate
FALSE
Girls mature earlier than boys, meaning that boys testosterone levels rocket between 12 and 18 (just when we want them to sit still, focus silently in lessons and take important tests). Because of this, boys still want to play, have fun and build things, so will find it hard to sit still in their seats, or even fiddle when you’ve asked them to be silent/
Strategies:
Try some active tasks in the lessons
Rather than copying from a book, can statements be placed around the room and put together like a jigsaw?

2. Boys perform worse than girls at coursework and long projects
TRUE
Boys struggle to work towards deadlines that are far in the future. This also means that they struggle to work towards rewards that are a long time away. This is because they can’t see the need to focus that far into the future, this also many never change with men when they ‘mature’.
Strategies:
Chunk longer tasks down into shorter ones
Give stop off points where they can check to see if they’re on target
Give instant verbal feedback and ask the students to bullet point what you’ve said to them

3. Boys like competition
FALSE
Boys like challenge, they do not like losing. Boys are scared of showing their vulnerabilities, and these are highlighted greatly when they lose or get something wrong in a public setting.
Strategies:
Build in challenges that they have set themselves in the lesson (like the learning objectives)
Build in targets that they have to out perform

4. Boys need a loud and commanding authority figure
FALSE
Boys like knowing where the clear and consistent boundaries are, but if they’re made to feel intimidated or treated unfairly, they will react in a way to take control of the situation. This can be shown by trying to out shout you, get the last word or puff up their chests. These are traits that we, as staff, have to try to avoid, because as soon as they feel vulnerable the fight or flight mode will kick in, they will stop listening and either retaliate or run away.
Strategies:
Build up respectful relationships – boys will need to see the qualities to respect in you, not just the fact that you’re ‘older and wiser’ than them
Show that you care about them and that you want the best for them
Be consistent in your expectations


5. Boys presentation will mainly be worse than girls, regardless
TRUE
Boys are naturally focused on the content of the work and not necessarily the process or the presentation. Boys will take more care over their work if they see an audience for their work or a point to it. To condemn their presentation further, boys strength and dexterity in their hands develops a lot later than girls, so when they first learnt to write it will have caused them pain and frustration, this feeling never leaves some boys, so their hand writing will always be scruffy, for others it’s switched them off from writing all together.
Strategies:
Giving students a choice of how they present their work will give them more ownership and increase its content too
Give students an audience or perspective to their work
Build a culture of pride into the classroom using your love of learning and positive personality
Use support or skeleton mechanisms to structure tasks

Please note that the word “MOST” is lacking from this blog, as these are all very general and there are always exceptions to any statement or idea.

Thank you for reading, it was hopefully helpful and enlightening

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