Boys are different from girls despite what the culture is trying to say

2 Nov

Joan Gausted of the University of Oregon has an excellent article in Eric Digest 78, School Discipline

School discipline has two main goals: (1) ensure the safety of staff and students, and (2) create an environment conducive to learning. Serious student misconduct involving violent or criminal behavior defeats these goals and often makes headlines in the process. However, the commonest discipline problems involve noncriminal student behavior (Moles 1989).

Quite often, children who are disciplined tend to be boys and more often than not, boys of color. The issue for schools is how to maintain order, yet deal with noncriminal student behavior and keep children in school.

Alan Schwartz has a provocative article in the New York Times about a longitudinal study of discipline conducted in Texas. In School Discipline Study Raises Fresh Questions  Schwartz reports about the Texas study conducted under the auspices of the Council of State Governments. Martha Plotkin reports at the Council of State Governments site in the article, Out of Class Into Court Discretion in School Discipline has Big Impacts, Groundbreaking CSG Study Finds:

The numbers are startling.

Nearly 60 percent of students in Texas received at least one disciplinary action—including in-school suspensions ranging from a single class period to several days, with no cap on how many suspensions they can receive in a school year;

More than 30 percent had out-of-school suspensions of up to three days, with no cap on the number in a year;

About 15 percent were sent to Disciplinary Alternative Education Programs for an average of 27 days;

Approximately 8 percent were placed in Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Programs, averaging 73 days.

Those are some of the findings from a recent report, Breaking Schools’ Rules: A Statewide Study of How School Discipline Relates to Students’ Success and Juvenile Justice Involvement. The study, released July 19, was a partnership between The Council of State Governments Justice Center and the Public Policy Research Institute at Texas A&M….
Students who were repeatedly disciplined often experienced poor outcomes at particularly high rates. The Texas study found that 15 percent of Texas students had 11 or more disciplinary violations between seventh and 12th grades; about half of those frequent violators had subsequent contact with the juvenile justice system. Repeated suspensions and expulsions also predicted poor academic outcomes. Only 40 percent of students disciplined 11 times or more graduated from high school during the study period, and 31 percent of students disciplined one or more times repeated their grade at least once, compared with 5 percent of students who had not been disciplined.
Even students who were disciplined less frequently were still more likely to repeat a grade or drop out. A student who had experienced a discretionary disciplinary action was twice as likely to repeat a grade as a student who had the same characteristics and attended a similar school but was not suspended or expelled. The results were also troubling in regard to keeping students with disciplinary histories in school. Nearly 10 percent of students with at least one disciplinary contact dropped out of school, compared to just 2 percent of students with no disciplinary actions.

Some in the current culture do not want to recognize that boys have different styles, because to say otherwise is just not politically correct (P.C.). Being P.C., however, is throwing a lot of kids under the bus.

Dan Berrett has a provocative article, School Suspensions Among Boys May Be Linked to Lower College Attendance in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

In general, boys tend to score lower than girls on “noncognitive” measures like self-control. They are also more likely to have attention and behavioral problems, and be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

These reasons help explain why boys are far more likely than girls to be suspended from school, the study’s authors—Marianne Bertrand, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, and Jessica Pan, an assistant professor of economics at the National University of Singapore—write in a working paper describing their research. The paper, “The Trouble with Boys: Social Influences and the Gender Gap in Disruptive Behavior,” was released this week by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Nearly one boy in four had been suspended for at least one day by eighth grade, while only one out of 10 girls had been, the authors note, based on surveys that tracked American students who entered kindergarten in 1988 and followed them for 12 years after eighth grade. The disparity has worsened over time. Suspension rates for boys went from nearly 16 percent to 24 percent between 1980 and 2006, the latest year studied, while the rates for girls stayed comparatively flat over that period.

As the likelihood of suspensions increases, students’ chances of making it to college decrease. Citing previous research, the authors note that one suspension lowers the chance of attending college by 16 percentage points, and of graduating from college by 9 percentage points….

The report comes amid mounting concern among some policy makers, scholars, and commentators over the performance of boys in the educational system, including at the postsecondary level. Women account for 57 percent of students enrolled on college campuses, according to the most recent federal data.

The authors acknowledge that biological factors may play a role in the discrepancy between boys’ and girls’ behavior. They also looked for environmental factors and concluded that those found in school accounted for little of the difference.

But their findings did suggest that boys’ behavioral problems are “subject to very strong environmental influences, particularly from the home.” Parents of girls, for example, are much more likely to have books in the home and to read to their children than are parents of boys. Parents are also more likely to take girls than boys to a concert, or to sign them up for an extracurricular activity, the authors note, citing the U.S. Department of Labor’s American Time Use Survey.

Related Content

John Hechinger has an article in Bloomberg/Business Week about the data, Women Top Men In Earning Bachelor’s Degrees, U.S. Data Shows There are some good information sources about helping boys to learn. PBS Parents in Understanding and Raising Boys has some great strategies for helping boys learn.

Trying to pretend there are no gender differences is leading to some differences in outcome for many male children. Even Beltrand and Pan want very badly to emphasize environmental factors, which are important, but clearly is an P.C. explanation which skates over biological gender differences.

Those trendy intellectuals who want to homogenize personalities into some “metrosexua”l ideal are sacrificing the lives of many children for their cherished ideal of some sociological utopia.


Classroom Strategies to Get Boys Reading

Me Read? A Practical Guide to Improving Boys Literacy Skills

Understanding Gender Differences: Strategies To Support Girls and Boys

Helping Underachieving Boys Read Well and Often

Boys and Reading Strategies for Success

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

One Response to “Boys are different from girls despite what the culture is trying to say”


  1. Study: Gender behavior differences lead to higher grades for girls « drwilda - January 7, 2013

    […] Some in the current culture do not want to recognize that boys have different styles, because to say otherwise is just not politically correct (P.C.). Being P.C., however, is throwing a lot of kids under the bus.… […]

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