Boys Are Not Defective

Article here. Excerpt:

'This theory is confusing, given what researchers know about human behavior generally. Psychologists have found that autonomy typically leads to motivation—not to disengagement. But in the Middle East, boys’ freedom seems to act as a kind of academic handicap over the long term, allowing boys to get distracted from school while they are young and impulsive. And the hyper-surveillance of girls, meanwhile, seems to act as a perverse kind of motivator. Lacking other options, girls study harder. It was a theory I would hear again and again around the region, from Ministry of Education officials, researchers, parents, and students. But it didn’t feel like the whole story.

After interviewing the girls at the Princess Alia school, I gave them my contact information, in case they wanted to keep in touch. Shortly before midnight that night, I got an email from Maha Daraghmeh, a student who had said very little during our interview. “I’m the girl who sat in silence on the couch,” she wrote. “Miss Amanda, I don’t agree that girls are smarter than boys, and I sure don’t agree that we study hard.”
Boys also reported worse relationships with their male teachers. Only 40 percent of male students interviewed said they believed their teachers cared about how well they did in school—compared with 74 percent of girls. These results are bolstered by another recent USAID-funded study, which has not been made public but was shared with The Atlantic by RTI International, which helped conduct the research: Teams of education experts observed different classrooms around the country and found that male teachers in all-boys schools were more likely to belittle or punish students for getting the wrong answer. And boys were much more likely than girls to complain about their male teachers’ tendencies to beat students and shout at them.

Meanwhile, in the larger, 2014 study, male teachers were three times as likely as female teachers to say they were dissatisfied with teaching. Teachers do not earn a lot of money in Jordan, but men are still expected to be the primary breadwinners in families. So male teachers are more likely to work second or third jobs as tutors or even taxi drivers in order to augment their small salaries. One Jordanian student told me about a male biology teacher he’d had who was so exhausted by his two other jobs that he used to close the blinds in first period and go to sleep.

On average Jordan’s male teachers—who have mostly gone through the same educational system themselves—do worse on the national entry test for teaching, according to Ministry of Education data. This suggests in turn that boys might be encountering less-prepared teachers on average. Unsurprisingly, teaching is not considered a very prestigious job—particularly for Jordanian men. So fewer men aspire to do it. And men who do teach are also more likely to simply leave the country, recruited away by Gulf states that desperately need male teachers for their own boys’ schools. “Male teachers are hard to come by, and good male teachers are even harder,” says Haifa Dia Al-Attia, the CEO of the Queen Rania Foundation for Education and Development, an organization founded by Jordan’s queen that is heavily involved in reforming the country’s education system.

Mohammed Al-Qazaq supervises 35 schools in Amman, including all-boys and all-girls schools. The female teachers are “more loyal to their jobs,” he says. “When I ask male teachers to bring me their plans for the semester, they don’t care. When there are training courses, they don’t attend. It’s not their wish to be a teacher.” He sometimes runs into his male teachers working their second jobs at restaurants or malls. “They say: ‘What can I do? I want to get married. I want to buy a car.’”'

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. . . annoys me because it seems to put forth the attitude that these male teachers are bad people, and are the primary source of boys' lagging behind girls in school; it implies that female teachers are much better. I think that it's clear that many of the male teachers in Jordan are disengaged at their jobs, and likely suffering some form of depression. Far be it from anyone to understand how one's job can be disengaging when one is underpaid, and forced to take on an unfairly disproportionate amount of financial burden for one's family. Personally, I sympathize with these teachers, not point fingers. If I were part of the education system I would ask "how can we make the system more cost efficient so we can give these poor teachers a well-deserved raise?"

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... if the male teachers in this case were female. But they aren't. So they get $hit on. SSDD.

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