The education gender gap

photo: ladybugbkt at flickr.com

I just discovered a new blog with an intriguing topic - why boys fail (http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/whyboysfail/) - written by Richard Whitmore, a former editorial writer for USA Today.

His post "I'm not sure this is the right approach, but..." links to a story from England's The Independent that says boys as young as 3 & 4 years old need to work more at writing to stop them from falling behind girls.  I agree.

Not everyone does and that's fine.  The same article states:

Early-years experts condemned the move, arguing that having more targets to get children writing by the age of five would be "developmentally inappropriate" and potentially damaging, particularly for boys.

There are a number of things in this article that I do not agree with, but I don't see how encouraging all kids, both boys and girls, to write by experiment with developmentally appropriate materials such as crayons, play doh, paint, sand can be inappropriate.  I also disagree with the notion that kids will somehow just get it eventually.  You only get better at reading and writing by practicing.

Boys and girls are different, no doubt.  Sometimes I wish my very physically active son would just sit and colour for a while.  But that's not happening, and it's fine.  Kids on a whole are complex.  We are not doing them any favours by putting them in a box with broad, sweeping notions like boys don't like to read or write or that girls want to be princesses.  If someone can provide concrete evidence that having a 3 or 4 year old boy learn how to write will cause him harm, I'll reconsider doing so.  Until then, my son is learning how to write his letter and enjoying it.

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