Equity & Diversity Letter to the Editor

An Aussie Asks About Boys’ Learning Here

October 15, 2010 1 min read

To the Editor:

I’m interested in learning about the discussion of boys’ struggles within the education system in the United States and Canada. Here in Australia, and in the United Kingdom, we have been wrestling with this issue for some time.

From my perspective, a couple of points could be made: First, none of the simple answers, such as boys-only classes, seems to work. Second, university academics are hell-bent on denying that there even is a problem.

A third issue: Why, when we want only to help boys learn, does the enterprise have to be seen as directed against someone else, namely, girls and women?

Finally, we have to look at the compounding of problems. A boy who grows up in a family that doesn’t read, a boy without a dad who values education or takes time to read to him, a boy from a working-class family in which the males are struggling because they are trained to work in declining industries—all of these circumstances and others add to one another, to give us a kid who has trouble learning in school.

Education has become very heavily slanted toward “listen to me” and “discuss,” activities many boys aren’t good at. My research suggests that white, working-class males, along with minority males, are those most in trouble educationally. I invite readers to share ideas at my website, www.boyslearning.com.au, which also has practical suggestions for helping boys learn.

Peter West

Sydney, Australia

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A version of this article appeared in the October 20, 2010 edition of Education Week as An Aussie Asks About Boys’ Learning Here


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