I see it with my own eyes from the front of my classroom each and every day. Overall, the boys are getting their butts kicked by the girls – particularly when it comes to reading and literacy skills.
Of course, these are generalizations – I have boys that are wicked smart and truly great students… and girls that are just not stepping up whatsoever – but taken on the whole, there are more girls achieving at higher rates with greater regularity and consistency in school these days than there are young men.
And the data supports this assertion. Here’s a link to an article about the most recent report on how Boys Trailing Girls in Reading Across the States.
And so, should we hit the panic button?
Yes and no.
Yes because no matter what your gender, I couldn’t be more staunch in my belief about how kids need to own excellent literacy skills. Those who can read and write well are at a huge advantage over those who cannot in this world and I don’t care what tech invention Apple, Google, Microsoft, Sony, and so on comes up with… the need to be able to read and write well is not a skill that is disappearing anytime soon.
(Goodness, I hope that doesn’t one day make a list of the world’s dumbest predictions one day like, “Who wants to see talking movies?”)
So yes, boys need to elevate their reading performance. And their writing performance. Why? Because it ultimately relates directly to their thinking performance and the fact is, for those who do not own solid literacy skills, a glass ceiling exists.
A glass ceiling being lowered by things like Friedman’s The World is Flat recognition.
But no, we don’t need to panic. And why? Cause panic isn’t going to do anything. Doing something is going to do something.
- Accessible relevant reading material that wins the hearts and minds of boys must be better embraced as a classroom tool.
- Reading for pleasure has to be recognized as something that does not just occur, but rather, is cultivated in young people. (Expecting it to just bloom is silly – we need to garden.)
- Bludgeoning our lowest level boy readers with scripted curriculums, disengaging, watered-down, 5 pound textbooks and drill-n-kill materials has got to be kicked to the curb.
- Sending the message that good bubbling on bubble tests is the penultimate goal to which readers should aspire needs to be exorcised. Reading is not about being tested on reading.
All in all, we need to listen to our literacy light leaders. I mean it’s not like we do not know how to better win over more boy readers. We do know bhow. And there are a ton of people who do, indeed, provide workable answers to this problem. Thing is, we are not listening to them. Our best thinkers in the field of literacy are holding a map, a flashlight, a canteen of water and a supply pack of tools saying, “Follow me!” …and still, these “experts” are not being entrusted to guide us through the rough terrain us we currently face.
Boy readers are reachable.
Young men do like to read once the right material crosses their path.
We can do better.
But let’s not forget one thing, we oughtta be proud of our girls. A few decades ago they couldn’t even vote and now they are taking the boys out to the woodshed and kickin’ their butts.
Remember, in our effort to raise up our boys, let’s make sure we do not slow down our girls. They are to be saluted!