Thursday, March 1, 2012

Bend me, shape me, anyway you want me, long as you love me it's alright (The Amen Corner)

There was recently a non hysterical story in the local press (it would have been different in the Nu Zild media) about PISA results and the large gap between boys and girls in the results.

I don't know why there is so much fuss about this each time a measure is released. Boys and girls mature at different rates - it takes us a while to catch up.

I've taught in boys' schools in NZ and I'm the lead advisor in a boys' school (all government schools are single sex throughout the U.A.E.). Boys' schools have a special atmosphere.

Joseph Driessen is something of an expert on boys' education (a cottage industry all to itself). He acknowledges the maturity rate when he suggests that it should be a long term commitment to boys and girls doing equally well. It takes us a while to catch up.
I'm happy to let nature take its course and instead concentrate not on the gap but on how to make schools better places for boys to learn in.
Some of our boys being addressed by a recent visitor
used to inspire them to learn and work hard
Here are three simple, common sense, things I've seen at Ali bin Abi Taleb School that other boys' schools in other cultures can easily do.
  • Boy friendly teaching - focus on our male strengths, on the things we love to do. That means using things like war, adventure, sport, slugs and snails, discovery, kinaesthetic methods in teaching and learning, and puppy dog tails.
  • Have good supportive relationships with boys - the teachers are respected because they are friendly, authoritative, personable, humorous, likeable and caring.
  • Strong male role models - all of the teaching staff at this school are male and many are excellent role models for the boys.
It's all pretty simple really - we're not really that hard to work out. Why not play to our strengths...and be patient?

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