Many statistics indicate that boys as a group are not flourishing in today’s elementary school environment. For example:
- Suspension rate for boys = 2.5 × the rate for girls
- Expulsion rate for boys = 3.3 × the rate for girls
- Number of boys in special education classes ≥ 2 × the number of girls
- Number of pupils diagnosed with learning disabilities who are boys = 2.75 × the number who are girls
- Number of pupils diagnosed with emotional disturbances = 3.25 ×
- With ADHD = 4 ×
These alarming figures are taken from this short and engaging lecture by Ali Carr-Chellman, Professor of Education at Pennsylvania State University:
Professor Carr-Chellman is a former third-grade teacher, a well-known author, and a recognized expert on elementary education. She now specializes in trying to find ways to reverse these discouraging statistics.
We might mention, too, that the problem is not limited to elementary education. The percentage of students graduating from college who are boys has now dropped below 40%. And some educators believe the day may not be far off when boys may represent only 30% of the undergraduate population on America’s college campuses.
Here are some of Professor Carr-Chellman’s recommendations for changes in the culture of our elementary schools that might help to turn these numbers around:
- Reverse the trend toward expecting more and more academically out of younger and younger children (“Kindergarten is the new second grade”)
- Relax the “zero tolerance” attitude toward simulated violence (toy guns and the like) and rough-housing
- Recruit more male teachers for the elementary grades
- Design better classroom games that embody some of the excitement and narrative complexity of today’s video games