Friday, September 28, 2007

Gender gap in achievement: where ARE you, Gilbert?

From the Sept. 22, 2007 Vancouver Sun article "To close the gender gap, we must do more for boys," by Melanie Jackson:

Among the memorable moments in Anne of Green Gables is the take-no-prisoners fight between the redheaded Ms. Shirley and Gilbert Blythe -- in academics. Right up to the end of Lucy Maud Montgomery's classic, the two battle neck-and-neck for highest marks.

It's one of the epic contests of young adult literature. It's also an anachronism. These days educators are trying to boost boys' average achievement rates to equal girls', never mind surpass them a la Gilbert. To do that, educators realize they pretty much have to start a new slate (much as Anne did after slamming Gilbert over the head with hers). Boys' lagging rates will be the topic of the Gender and Student Achievement Conference: Addressing the Gender Gap in Education, Oct. 18-20 in Kamloops.

Read the rest here. Above photo from the Kevin Sullivan production of Anne of Green Gables, featuring (ahem!) that OTHER famous redhead.

1 comment:

Dinah Galloway Mysteries said...

A reader (we'll withhold his name for privacy) responded:

I enjoyed reading your article printed in the Vancouver Sun on Sept. 22nd on the learning "gender gap." Actually, I should qualify the word” enjoy" because it brought back some painful memories that I have as a boy in the public school system of the 60's and 70's. In recent weeks I have been looking back 40 years ago when i was starting Grade 4 and beginning to take courses like Science and "Social Studies" (history and geography). To this day, these subjects hold a special place of interest to me. However, that year i had teachers in both of those classes that made it very difficult for me. What made it so hard was their unrelenting criticism and judgemental attitude. Before the year was half over I was convinced that they (unfortunately both female) hated boys and me in particular. (even though i wasn't a student who acted out). My form of resistance to this harsh treatement was to simply refuse to to anymore than i needed to pass the course. I usually ignored written comments like "sloppy" "capable of doing better- see me" because I was convinced these teachers didn't like me. (The Science teacher especially. She falsely accused me of snooping and cheating) It's important (as you say) that teachers provide a
"stable, caring and organized' setting. otherwise the boy thinks learning is a waste of time
and he disengages emotionally from it.(as I did). Bad work habits develop and remain uncorrected through high school as succeeding teachers fail to address the roots of the problem. Later on, as an adult these traits continue to influence the individual as well. Anyway, thanks for writing- I've never read your books but if I was 9 again I'd probably try!