Boys, Education And All Of That Bunk…

I’m going to address something today that I don’t usually talk about.

Over the years I have discussed my various career moves and balancing family life and career decisions but I’ve never really delved intensely into the “why” behind those moves.

I have a son with a learning disability. Or at least he used to be classified as having a disability. He’s been through OT and speech therapy as well as intensive reading and math interventions. At this point, at least according to the school system, he is classified as having ADD and has an IEP for school.

Dealing with my son’s “issues” (Oh how I hate that label. Total bunk in my opinion.) has steered my career decisions for the past seven years.

I have some very strong opinions about boys and learning. I’ve read tons of books on ADD and diet, ADD and education, ADD in boys versus girls, the state of the education system, methods of teaching in school and on and on…

And one of the opinions that I have formed having done this research and having lived with boys (who both learn completely differently from one another) is that boys are expected to learn and perform in an education system shaped for instructing GIRLS. (I could write three or four blog posts on this fact alone but that is not my purpose here today.)

Sit still. Pay attention. Abandon your interests. Talk about this. Don’t talk about THAT. Please be silent. Stop moving about…

You get my drift, don’t you?

I came across this talk on TED the other day by Ali Carr-Chellman on “Gaming to re-engage boys in learning” and I thought that it was really a great resource for parents of boys. I hope that you enjoy it. Please feel free to leave a comment and tell me what YOU think…

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7 Responses to "Boys, Education And All Of That Bunk…"

  1. Catherine Thompson
    Catherine Thompson 4 years ago .

    Jennifer –
    You are so right on. Love the TED video – things have changed a lot since we were kids. Only one recess combined with lunch, the work they do in K is really like the old 2nd grade, and yes elementary school is really set up for girls. And we’ve let a few awful incidents send us to the extreme – the suicides by high school boys in Virginia are an example of the consequences of this zero tolerance – and I might add, treating legal children as adults, when clearly they do not have the reasoning skills that adults do.
    We need some balance here, and some informed, evidence based decision making.

  2. Doug Tallman
    Doug Tallman 4 years ago .

    Completely agree … Years and years ago, Frederick County Public Schools published a thick book of test results. Different tests, different grades, different schools, different years, about an inch thick and nothing but numbers. I used to have a job where reading that kind of thing was a “perk.”

    The results were disaggregated by sex, and with page after page of results you’d think boys would score higher than girls about half the time.

    Even if you figured the percentage of lunkhead kids skew toward boys, you’d still think the percentages would be NEARLY the same.

    And then you could factor in the stuff about how the SAT favors male students.

    The kicker is, in all those test administrations — maybe 250 in that book — boys outscored girls 10 times.

    That’s a pretty startling statistic.

    I wish I still had that book. If you know Steve Hess and if he’s still with FCPS, he might be able to find it in their archives.

  3. julia
    julia 4 years ago .

    thank you for sharing this. i coach young boy (ages 7 and up) and some have severe ADD and some aren’t as bad, but still have a hard time focusing. i’ve been struggling with how to teach and involve them without getting mad.

    and i feel so guilty, b/c i’ve been doing the same thing you just said not to… stand still, quite climbing on things, pay attention. i’m not sure how to keep them engaged while still keeping them from taking over the session. it can be disrupting to other kids and i’m not sure i want to take away from the others that are paying attention. i will definitely watch this video and would love your input more on how i can be a better coach/teacher

  4. Kimberly
    Kimberly 4 years ago .

    I’m so glad you shared this video. As the mother of two boys, and a veteran educator, I get it. Completely.

    And then, I get completely overwhelmed with how to effect change.

    My older son is diagnosed with ADD, and medication does seem to help not just with school, but with his whole world. But it is NOT the entire answer.

    I’ve seen his face light up when doing a re-enactment of a scene from Romeo and Juliet that they had creative license to adapt. (They did a skateboard/gang theme and it was INCREDIBLE).

    I’ve seen him get excited over working on a project that has the purpose of making a positive environmental change in the world.

    And I’ve seen his eyes glaze over with studies of the same old same old stuff.

  5. Brandy C
    Brandy C 4 years ago .

    While I agree with what is stated in this video. I also believe it goes beyond this. I have a son who has a brain that will not stop and this was evident from a very age. Some might think he is ADHD/ADD b/c he wakes up as if he never went to sleep and goes until he drops. He needs a lot of physical activity and a ton of intellectual activity as well. I worried that he may be ADHD/ADD for a while and enlisted the advice of a trusted PhD psychologist. He gave me this book called Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children and Adults: ADHD, bipolar, OCD, Asperger’s, depression, and other disorders. It states that “the gifted child’s characteristics of intensity, sensitivity, impatience, and high motor activity can easily be mistaken for ADHD. The gifted child’s developmental level is different when compared to other children, and health care professionals should consider whether the child’s inattentiveness or impulsivity occurs only in some situations but not in others. Gifted children seldom have problems with focused attention or impulsivity in areas they are interested in.” Having read the book and several others related…I am convinced that my son is just who he is – a smart very active child – and we tailor our lives to accomodate his intensity – it is exhausting – but the benefits shall be reaped in his future. Check out this website:

  6. Krista Rodriguez
    Krista Rodriguez 4 years ago .

    I watched my now 15 year old stepson struggle though mainstream education, getting labeled as a problem, diagnosed with ADD and spending a year medicated-not a good year I might add-and I watched the love of learning and natural curiousity get sucked right out of him. It’s sad, he’s never recovered from that. This was one of the reasons I sought out a charter school for my 7 year old. He’s bright, active, inquisitive, sensitive, all great things as far as I’m concerned but I didn’t think his natural curiousity would be well receieved in a “regular” classroom. I’ve watched him flourish, reading well above grade level, working math problems well above grade level and most important HAPPY to go to school every single day. I always encourage parents to look for alternatives if the local public school isn’t meeting your child’s needs. The way it was done yesterday does not have to be the way it is now or tomorrow.

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