Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Hard News: In Movement

I'm not going to pretend that the Shakespeare Club has big answers for the bigger problem of boys falling behind in school, but I will say a sword in hand can help. Studies say that girls do well in structure and like to organize. Boys, on the other hand, have trouble sitting still and tend to absorb more when they are on the go.

I ran into Dominick's father recently and told him how well his son was doing in the role of Macduff. I related how disciplined Dominick had become in rehearsal and that his performance looked very promising.

"It's clear how much you've been working with Dominick at home and I really appreciate that," I said.

"I'm not working with him. I've asked to help him and would like to but he doesn't want my help."

"Then he's doing this all by himself?" I was shocked.

"Looks like," the dad offered.

"His journal writing is gaining traction as well," I went on. "And he's always eager to share his writing with the group."

"Last year we stood over him and couldn't get him to write a complete sentence," the dad added.

Maybe there's something to having boys learn on their feet. Maybe they need an experiential approach to academics. Boys are doers, after all.

With swords in hand, they get the story.

I found this interesting. From "The Trouble With Boys" by Peg Tyre in Newsweek:

By almost every benchmark, boys across the nation and in every demographic group are falling behind. In elementary school, boys are two times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with learning disabilities and twice as likely to be placed in special-education classes. High-school boys are losing ground to girls on standardized writing tests. The number of boys who said they didn't like school rose 71 percent between 1980 and 2001, according to a University of Michigan study. Nowhere is the shift more evident than on college campuses. Thirty years ago men represented 58 percent of the undergraduate student body. Now they're a minority at 44 percent. This widening achievement gap, says Margaret Spellings, U.S. secretary of Education, "has profound implications for the economy, society, families and democracy." [...]

The problem won't be solved overnight. In the last two decades, the education system has become obsessed with a quantifiable and narrowly defined kind of academic success, these experts say, and that myopic view is harming boys. Boys are biologically, developmentally and psychologically different from girls--and teachers need to learn how to bring out the best in every one. "Very well-meaning people," says Dr. Bruce Perry, a Houston neurologist who advocates for troubled kids, "have created a biologically disrespectful model of education."

And this, from "UF study explores why boys are falling behind girls in school" by Joy Rodgers of the University of Florida News:

"Curricular materials, particularly reading, may need to be more inclusive with regard to male interests. The use of physical space and need for movement should be taken into consideration," Clark says. "We also need to recognize that developmental stages differ between males and females, with females maturing earlier, cognitively as well as physically."

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