Sunday, 22 February 2015

Is there really a gender gap?

TVNZ's Sunday programme has presented a story claiming a gender gap between NZ boys and girls. 

Sunday: Oh Boy!

Lisa Rodgers from the Ministry of Education is interviewed near the end of the video and points out that the gender gap has not grown over time (according to the MOE???). Boys are mathematicians and scientists, girls are readers and writers. In general, and in my opinion, I would lean slightly towards saying this is true. However, I truly do not believe, from my experience, and what I've seen in my classrooms, that it is totally right.

Children are born with the potential to excel in anything. I think there are a combination of factors contributes to a child's strengths in the end (and these are not limited to): individual wiring of a child's brain (some will just not get it!), genes, childhood experiences, parental pressure/expectation, parental strengths, and teachers - passion for teaching and learning, attitude, encouragement, subject strengths. 

I agree that boys are usually more active. I believe a good teacher can cater for that throughout the day and develop strategies with the students that empowers them to take control of their own learning and learning breaks. I'm not saying that boys classes are not the answer - but I do agree with Lisa Rodgers again, when she says that if it's working for that community, in that school, great! It's not necessarily the answer.

I have one other small problem with this report.... The part when it says boys can't learn because there is not the resources to engage them. For as long as I've been teaching (so at least the last five years), there has been talk around engagement of boys. Both of my previous schools had excellent resources to engage boys and as a teacher, it was my job to make sure I sourced resources and activities to actively engage ALL students.

In fact, I would go as far as saying, there has almost been too much of a swing! I don't think I have ever had a guided reading session using books about ponies and princesses.  For the past two years I have had classes that have been two thirds girls. At times I have struggled to find resources that would engage them. 

The story presented by Sunday was a great way to get people talking about some of the issues in education, and I hope they continue to present similar stories. I think the part of the story that was missing though was the individuality of each child. Each child needs to be engaged and the teacher has to find that spark and help to ignite it in any way they can.

1 comment:

  1. Great read, I think we both are on the same wave length with our thinking. I do know in the UK there is a big gender gap that they have been looking into. Even science and maths where boys used to outweigh girls now see girls leading this. In the end I do think it is an effective teacher and school that help boys succeed not creating 'boys' only classes.