Schools are designed more for girls than for boys

The education system is experiencing a ‘boy crisis’

By Sophia Corsetti, Collegian columnist

Ask any high school girl what her male counterpart is like, and you will likely hear how annoying, rowdy and fidgety they are. It is widely acknowledged that girls mature and develop certain skills much faster than boys. For example, girls learn to sit still and stay attentive much faster than boys do. But school is designed to create equal opportunities for everyone, not just one gender; researchers have coined the failure of boys in our schools and society as “the boy crisis.”

Of course, there are plenty of boys who are able to follow the same academic standards that are demanded of girls. In my experience, these boys are those who are most successful. They go on to be our school valedictorians or rank at the top of the class. Just like how there are some girls who are not entirely focused on school, there are some boys who are focused. The phenomenon does not hold entirely true for every person of each gender, but it is a widely acknowledged happening. And the worst part, according to Dr. Warren Farrell: We are ignoring it.

From an early age, girls are taught to earn better grades than boys. This trend goes deeper than elementary school. Girls are outperforming boys in school. In 2010, the college completion rate for men was just 27 percent, while for women it was 36 percent. This isn’t because girls are necessarily smarter. In fact, boys and girls have similar intelligence rates. The difference is that girls are working harder than boys because they know that their future success depends on their grades. For boys, there are many alternative opportunities and paths to success, so a good grade isn’t the sole path to attainment. For example, landscaping, construction work, plumbing and electrical work are all male-dominated careers that require non-traditional schooling more conducive to stereotypical male behavior through which boys may attain success.

What else contributes to the boy crisis in schools? It is hard to expect that a young boy can sit still for eight hours a day at a desk. Yet again, it is hard to expect that anyone can sit still at a desk for eight hours a day for eighteen years. Many teachers relay to parents that their sons show signs of attention deficit disorder or learning disabilities, but is this really the case? Or can our boys simply not meet the same behavioral standards as girls?

The problem follows into the home as well. Mothers are apt to state that their sons are addicted to video games and ignore their homework, as suggested by Dr. Warren Farrell, who spoke in the TED Talk titled “The Boy Crisis.” The solution, some find, is sending their sons to elite, private all-boys schools. This only makes the problem worse, as these schools ask more of boys and hold them to a seemingly unachievable academic standard, according to Warren. They require boys to work harder, while in the midst of an all-boy culture that certainly does inspire the necessary focus on school.

During his TED Talk, Dr. Warren Farrell asked the audience to raise their hands if they knew of a boy who was having problems such as low motivation, addiction to video games and so on. About 30 percent of the audience raised their hand. After this, he stated, “Why are we blind to something that is so much around us that we would even have to ask the question, ‘Is there a boy crisis?’” The boy crisis is omnipresent. Possibly, we ignore it because we assume boys will succeed and have a happy life no matter what.

Altogether, there is no real clear solution to the boy crisis. Some say that schools should curtail more to the learning needs of boys, while others say that we should hold boys to similar standards as girls. This phenomenon certainly does not run true for every American boy, but it certainly hinders the success of those for whom it does hold true. Clearly, this phenomenon must be researched further and addressed through educational reform.

Sophia Corsetti is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]