Commentary Batavick: Why do boys fail? It starts in elementary school

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'It begins early. Claudia Buchmann, Ohio State professor of sociology, writes, “Girls enter kindergarten more prepared than boys, and derive more satisfaction from pleasing parents and teachers than boys do.”

Our elementary schools are really designed for girls who tend to adapt better to classroom regimens than do boys. We have a grandson who is plenty bright but also rambunctious, and the havoc his lack of self-discipline causes has been cited by teachers for the last six years.

Richard Whitmire, author of “Why Boys Fail,” thinks the problem with boys’ performance begins with their teachers who are almost all female. He believes that they become “annoyed as hell by all the boys in their classrooms who aggressively wave their arms in the air when a question is asked.” Some teachers think this intimidates the shyer girls who are then called on more frequently to encourage them.

In one of her studies, Buchmann discovered that by the time students reached eighth grade, 62 percent of the girls believed good grades were “very important,” compared to only 50 percent of boys. That’s because girls “have more of the social and behavioral skills” important to success. Over time, these differences influence some boys to believe it more masculine to blow-off school and just leave it to the girls. This is especially true among lower-income or working-class families.'

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