Reading & Literacy Opinion

Harvard Education Letter takes on ‘Why Boys Fail’

By Richard Whitmire — June 30, 2010 1 min read
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Michael Sadowski reviews the literature on the reading gaps and offers some guidance on boosting the reading abilities of boys. He also brings up something I should have included in the book, the ‘Matthew Effect.’

Most researchers agree that on average, boys develop the skills associated with reading and writing 12 to 24 months later than girls. Attending to the possible difficulties some boys (and girls) may have with reading early on is crucial, Snow says, to avoid what psychologist Keith Stanovich has called the "Matthew Effect," in which strong readers move further and further ahead, while early deficits accumulate and lead to greater and greater difficulties later on. "If [readers] have a just a little developmental advantage, they get that Matthew Effect push," Snow says. "There is a cumulative disadvantage associated with not reading very well."

As far as the review goes, I find it odd that he would try to put the issue into “context” without once addressing the college gender imbalances -- the development here that’s new. Why is it happening and what does it mean for the future?

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The opinions expressed in Why Boys Fail are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.