Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Teaching Boys Makes Me Embarrassed to be a Man

The longer I work with elementary school kids the more painfully obvious it becomes just how much slower and over-all dumber boys are then girls. I mean honestly when do boys start become somewhat thoughtful and self-controlled human beings? It certainly isn't before the 6th grade.

When I give the simplest instructions I find most of the girls only need to hear it once while the boys need to hear up to three times and often individually in order to understand. This is in large part because most of the boys cannot stay focused on any one topic for more then 20 or 30 seconds. If they are not looking at me directly in the eye then I truly don't know if they heard me.

They take so much pleasure in doing anything and everything that pops into their heads. I find them under the desk, on top of the desk, constantly throwing things, drawing on the table, stealing each other's stuff, playing fake sports with imaginary balls, making paper airplanes, poking each other in the side or on the back of the head and then pretending not to have done it, pushing and shoving one another and of course bothering the girls in any way possible. Further they think they are sly and clever actually believing they are hiding what they are doing from my co-teacher and I.

While there is certainly frustration involved in trying to teach these boys I think what bothers me the most is the sheer embarrassment I often feel when I am around them just for being male. I can't help but wonder, since I don't remember, how old was I when I started being able to use my brain for something productive and focus on any given task? If these boys are any indication it was not for a long time.

I'm glad the schools don't give up on boys or I wouldn't be here but one thing I have certainly gained from being a teacher is an even greater respect and appreciation of the female sex.


  1. I'll post a couple of questions, but maybe not well thought out, and purely shotgun response to your blog. Knowing how you see boys act now do you really think that in any way trying to change this 'obnoxious' or 'embarrassing' behavior you are observing would in any way benefit the male gender? What if we were robots as children? Didn't learn how to test limits? Wouldn't this inhibit our/your quest of knowledge. Is simply following the rules, " using your brain"? ...Listening to the teacher to sit, behave, stop messing with the girls, be quiet, focus. Well, there goes our imagination. I relish the fact that I get to see first hand a child develop before my very eyes. A perspective that I know you do not share. My sons do all of this, but unprompted they'll kiss their sister because she hurt herself. Marek will share a toy unprompted because his brother is crying. Yes. There are significant differences between boys and girls. Also another real life experience that I've witnessed with my 3 children. I don't want robots. It's their imaginative behavior, unpredictable thoughts, and crazy notions that make me smile and cherish the fact that they don't always follow the 'rules'. another page has turned for you. I'm sure you'll be bringing back some good stories to share when we hang out some time soon. Hopefully another avs game when you're around Denver. love jd and the fam

  2. First I have to say I think you took this post a little too seriously and read way too much into it. There was certainly some hyperbole in what I wrote mostly for humor. How you got from what I wrote in my post to thinking I somehow want boys to be robots with no imagination is beyond me.

    That being said if you want to look at the topic more seriously I would say while some of your thoughts make sense particularly in reference to individual kids in a home setting I don’t believe they apply very well to a classroom setting. I say this because there is a big difference between dealing with 2 to 3 kids in the context of the home and dealing with 25 or 35 kids in a classroom. I am responsible for teaching ALL of the kids in the classroom so yes if there are a few students unwilling to listen, focus, or just shut up it detracts from the others who are there ready to learn and actually grow and it’s unfair to those kids. You can’t limit your perspective to the point of view of the kid who is “testing the limits” as you said. There is the child who is being asked to be quiet but also the children who are already quiet; there is the child who is being asked to participate but also the children who are already participating; and there is the child who is being a distraction but also the children who are being distracted. You have to think of the whole class not just an individual kid. But no matter how you look at it at some point all the kids need to be able to focus and listen in order to learn otherwise knowledge will not be gained. Knowledge requires work. The rules do serve a purpose and in no way destroy the imagination just as a kid’s destructive and annoying behaviors don’t enhance their imagination. Plus there is a big difference between having a good imagination and just being lazy or dense. And please realize that my classes are not college lectures we play games, sing songs, watch videos and do activities so the kids have plenty of opportunity to move around, talk, have fun and learn at the same time.

    Now on the specific topic of violence there is absolutely no place for that in the classroom and no justification that can be offered for it. It has nothing to do with their imagination or letting them express themselves it is simply a line that can’t be crossed. I say this not just because I don’t approve of violence in general but because in this specific case (the classroom) it carries a different weight then it would at home. A brother hitting his sister is not the same thing as a boy hitting a girl (or anyone) in the classroom. The school is liable if someone was to get hurt and potentially I could be also if it happened in my classroom. So personally I don’t have any patience for any kids hitting, kicking, or throwing things at each other. If parents want to let their kids fight and hurt each other at home then that is their business but not in the classroom.

    All that being said I again believe you read too much into the piece. It was intended as a humorous piece poking fun at the male gender because when dealing with children it is amazing to think that throughout all of history the male gender has been considered superior to the female gender when it’s so painful obvious that we aren't. :)

  3. Boy don't I feel a little sheepish...baa. I re read your article with a different perspective. Sometimes emails, texts, and blogs can be misconstrued because if its electronic format and it loses its personal touch. Probably something I'd most likely pick up if I were sitting next to you listening to your rant.
    I understand the classroom setting. I am a teacher in a different sort of way, but remember I teach the children who've had 45 thousand chances to get it straight. Undoubtedly there is a difference between age, however some that I deal with are entirely the same in mental capacity. I know what it's like to want to strangle the kid and possibly shake some sense into him at the same time.
    I have dealt with a lot of people, at work, that share a sentiment that boys are dumb. Boys are grotesque creatures that serve no purpose and are utterly useless: counselors here and how they are tenured is such a pity. I also loathe the fact that they have female counselors doing treatment programs for male residents. But, that's another topic for another day. A little background on my 'shotgun' response to your entry.
    In regards to violence there is no quarrel here. There's no place for it anywhere in the classroom. Boys will be boys, however physical and verbal abuse is unacceptable.
    I did read too much into your statements. Rules are meant to facilitate a common goal or purpose for the group. In your setting I'd find myself struggling the same way you have. I find it unreasonable, which I'm sure you do as well, to expect every child to act appropriately. However, to give up on a child is just as bad as abuse.
    On a parent note watching Marek develop vs. Kodee is simply amazing. Kodee by far was light years faster than Marek. kodee talked, walked, created sentences, and practically skipped the toddler years. Marek is just a little rambunctious 2year taking his time. I'm excited to see how Hendrick develops...already he's reminding me of Kodee.
    I'm the guy that takes a joke and turns it into a serious conversation. I'm that guy. Sorry Z. Enjoy the day...hopefully the avs can snap their skid.

  4. No worries here. It's always fun to be serious. On a sadder note the Avs did not snap their skid today they just keep falling short. Oh well boys will be boys, right. :)

  5. The difference we may see between boys and girls at early stages in the classroom are mostly differences in language development and of course like you said, behaviour. Females tend to express themselves more and are more emotional than males, that is one of the reasons they develop their language more quickly. Boys are more fascinated with concrete things, they want to move,touch,see things move so they are more into action and are not always involved in trying to develop their language to get their thoughts across; if a boy is unsatisfied with another boy he'll just hit him,call him names or something of the like. Boys will be boys. And what males lack females compensate for it and vice versa. Allah has created males and females to complete each other. There are two interesting books for the same writer whose name as I recall is Louann. The books are titled 'The male brain' and 'The female brain' they are interesting indeed.