Help your boys succeed

Extract from “Help your boys succeed” by Gary Wilson

Every year, when examination results come out, the papers are full of the news that boys are falling behind girls in terms of their acheivement. REgularly the papers blame the way boys are these days – the so-called ‘laddish’ culture. Sometime commentators blame the fact that boys are not doing so well on the lack of female teachers. Similarly they will often cite the lack of male role models in our society generally and the lack of male role models in the family as the reasons for the lack of male acheivement. At its most extreme, we can even somtime hear people claiming that it’s all down to a worsening of disclipin in schools. This gang are normally heard baying for a return to corporal punishment, claiming ‘That’ll sort the littel dveils out!’ Taken on their own, any one of the above ideas is far too siplistic, missing as they do a wide range of far more sublte causes for boys’ underperformance in school.

Ofcourse there are issues around laddish culture, but there’snothing new there – hieroglyphics from ancient Egypt refer to youths creating antisocial disturbanaces. More recently, hooligans and groups of young men know as the Scuttlers, used to terrorize the streets in Victorian times.

Certainly it is true that there is a significant lack of male teachers in our schools, particularly in our primary schools. The propoertion of male teachers under the age of 30 iun schools in the UK, both primary and secondary, is currently around 5%. In fact, half of the pupils in primary schools in the UK will not be tuaght by a male teacher until they reach high school.

This is significant, particularly wehre there is no adult male role modle in the home either. However, resarch suggests overhwelmingly that it is not the gender of teacher that counts but their quality and the quality of the relationships that teacher are able to develop with their pupils counts the most. Many parents (not you ofcourse!) have been crying out for more male teacher in school to “Do the discipline and take the football’. WRONG! I know from talking to many, many boys that the kind of male teachers that they like are the ones who they can laugh with (and boys are very clear on this point) and the ones who don’t let things go too far. In other words, boys like male teachers who are firm but fair, with clear boundaries. Recently I visited a primary school where a group of boys had written poems abou their teachers;

If you’re male and considering teaching take note! If we need more male teachers in our schools, then the kind we need are those who show a more caring side of masculinity, partiuclarly if that is what we are trying to devlop in our boys, hlping to guide them away from thos laddish aspects that are preventing them from acheiving in school.

There are issues around the lack of positive role models insociety at large. We are told that over 70% of youngsters today believe that the way to become rich and successful in life is to become acelebrity in sport, entertainment, reality TV and so on. When we explore their favoured sport stars and entertainers, it can often feel that the negative male role models significantly outweigh the positive. In this sense – there is clearly an issue.

The debate has also very much centred around the fact that many boys appear to prefer to learn in ways that are different from the accpeted norm in school.

Barrier 1; Too much pressure in Pre School

It doesn’t matter if he can’t hold a pencil yet – what will help is developing fine motor skills generally

It doesn’t matter if he can’t yet write his name – what will help is if he is read to and is excited about stories that he can retell and recall and join in with chants

It doesn’t matter if he can’t read yet – what will help is that he can recognise his name

It doesn’t matter if he can’t draw a recognisable picture yet – what will help is that he can hear the initial letter sound in words

It doesn’t matter if he can’t recognise letters of the alphabet yet – what will help is that he used different shapes to draw circles and lines

Barrier 2; Lack of Independence

Barrier 3; Boys starting school linguistically less developed

It is quite possible that parents are talking to their children less now than at any time during the history of mankind.

Barrier 4; Physiological needs not met

Barrier 5: Negative attitudes to writing

Barrier 6; Limited interest in reading

Gary Wilson’s book identifies the major barriers to boys achievement and show parents how to help break them down. Parents deserve and need to know the full range of reasons as to why boys are underachievieng and fundamentally feel empowered as to what they can do to help prevent disaffection and underachievement in their boys. This book gives the full picture of this issue – boys themselves know what the root cause of their dissatisfaction with school is and their subsequent poor performance – they aslo know what needs to be done!