So, how do we reach our boys?  That’s the frustratingly ever-present question that looms large over educators and many parents.   Christina Hoff Sommers, writer for The Atlantic, reports that boys are languishing in many of the world’s developed countries.  However, unlike America, many of those countries look for research-based ways on how to reach them.  They energetically seek evidence-based solutions that are directed specifically toward closing the achievement gap between boys and their female counterparts.

Sommers acknowledges that most colleges are seeing their male enrollment declining except in “Tech” schools.  She asserts that this is due to the need for most boys to work with things while most girls tend to prefer working with people.

Other countries have put forth the following sex-specific solutions that should be considered when trying to reach boys:

  • Teachers need to be knowledgeable about reading material that will engage disengaged boys (Great Britain).
  • Teachers should create engaging classrooms “that capitalize on the boys’ spirit of competition.”  That means the infusion of more games, contests, and games (Canada).
  • Schools should offer courses that boys want: those that prepare them for employment (Australia).
  • Offer courses that provide hands-on activities (Canada).

Pushing programs aimed at a specific sex is frowned upon in America.  It’s likely due to the decades-long attempt to attract more women into historically male-dominated fields, but those efforts assume that men are operating and performing where they were historically.  Despite this, there are some emerging trends within our country as well:

  • Harvard’s Graduate School of Education’s Pathways to Prosperity, the report of findings of a major study, points out that our education system favors girls.  It calls for “a national revival of vocational education in secondary school.

One of the most compelling reasons to create programs that work for boys is that we are slow to acknowledge the need to focus on our boys like other nations:  “They view widespread male underachievement as a national threat: A country with too many languishing males risks losing its economic edge.”