In a 2018 report UNICEF found that globally boys are at disadvantage in education. In this article, Lynn Oliver, an educationist and learning expert from Atlanta, Georgia has explained how the society creates a situation where boys become disadvantaged in education.
The belief, boys should be strong, allows aggressive treatment by parents, teachers, peers and others from infancy so that they become tough when they grow up. There is much less mental/emotional/verbal interaction and support for fear of coddling. This creates high maintained layers of average stress for boys. These layers remain in the mind, taking away mental energy and leaving much less mental stamina left for academics. So, they need to work harder to receive the same level of mental reward. This treatment creates more social and emotional distance from others, specifically adults.
This kind of treatment of boys creates a higher average stress in them that hurts their learning motivation. More activity and higher muscle tension hurt their handwriting. As a result, boys develop much lower social vocabulary and communication skill. They not only communicate lesser compared to girls but they also create social and emotional distance from others in fear of harsh treatment.
A higher level of stress creates higher muscle tension which hurts boys’ handwriting and motivation. This ill-treatment, in turn, hurts their reading-motivation which requires a high social vocabulary and high social knowledge.
The effect of false genetic models creates more failure and hopelessness. To make it tougher, boys are given love/honor feelings of self-worth only on condition of an achievement. This was designed to keep Male esteem low and be willing to give their lives in war for love honor from the society. Males who do not achieve much are often subjected to ridicule and are disciplined to make them try harder. Support is not given in fear of coddling and false belief that males are stronger and should be able to support themselves. Many boys falling behind in education, turn their attention to sports and video games for small measures of love and honor that they do not receive in school or from parents.
The belief that boys should be strong and a false belief in male genetics create a justification and denial for the harsh treatment meted out to boys. This also denies that this kind of harsh treatment creates poor academics, low self-esteem and other problems in boys. This is not about more openness from boys, it is about the society allowing aggressive treatment to boys from their infancy. So, boys feel much wariness toward parents and teachers who freely use aggression to boys on any sign of their weakness. This is condoned by the society, too. Even though this problem is affecting all male children in general but male children from the lower socioeconomic background get higher and more amplified harsh treatment both from their parents as well as their teachers.
There is a wrinkle to this. There are “very few boys” who get more stable and adequate support from their families to succeed in education. This support enables the boys to do well in studies and receive love and honor from others from their academic excellence. So, they are compelled to follow that path of success to continue to earn that love and honor in academics. This hunger for higher achievement then becomes a drug for those boys and drives them to continually achieve in their schools in different ways. However, the vast majority of boys who do not receive that support do not perform well in school and develop an interest in other areas like sports and military to generate love and honor for them.
As girls, we are given way more support and care by our parents, teachers and peers. As girls, we are treated better and so we enjoy support from the society. Since we as girls are given preferential treatment, huge mental/social/emotional support and a lot of verbal interaction and care, these factors create an opposite outcome for girls when compared to boys. We receive love and honor simply for being girls. This kind of treatment creates all the good things for us, the girls. We have lower average stress for ease of learning. We enjoy much more freedom of expression from higher protection by the society. We enjoy lower muscle tension for ease in writing motivation to write. We enjoy much positive trust and communication from parents, teachers and get required support for the perceived weaknesses. We are thus reaping a bonanza in this information age.
Now with girls and women taking over many areas of society, we enjoy much more lavishing love honor from the society; while boys and men are now failing more and are subjected to more ridicule and abuse by the society. Mind you, this is now coming from girls and women using our still protected freedoms of expression and more with false feelings of superiority.
As for girls, there is a wrinkle, too. We are given love and honor simply for being girls. This allows us to choose less than top planes of success and still find wonderful planes of inner security. We are not as driven as boys. However, as the middle class continues to drop, there will be fewer boys who will be able to receive the bare adequate support to be successful in academics. Also, more girls will begin “choosing” to go into those higher fields by choice. This will slowly allow women to begin taking over those higher fields just as they have already taken over the other fields. Much more from complete learning theory that will go to all on request.
I have been a teacher throughout my life. Although I feel education today has completely stagnated for many years due to the false genetic models of learning and ability, which has become a dogma today. This has led to the education system simply providing information, testing, and then grading students accordingly. Sadly, for many working-class students and mostly boys, the false notion is to succeed by ability and effort coupled with the belief that boys should be strong. This has allowed much more aggressive treatment by parents, teachers, and others. This kind of treatment not only unduly push the boys to a corner but also use this as an allowance to ridicule and even abuse them mentally, emotionally, physically and even through neglect which hurts their learning and motivation even more.
I have lived in both environments. I have seen not only how those individual environments and differential treatment greatly affect thinking, learning, motivation, and mental health
I have learned how to provide students and adults with tools to continually improve their lives to help approximate the stability which exists in more stable environments.
First, for everyone, we need to redefine our average stress as many maintained layers of mental work, not just some immediate problems, needs, or situations. Those areas go on top of our much larger average layers of mental work. I redefined our average stress as many maintained layers of mental work from one’s past, present and future – experiences, problems, needs, anxieties along with many small and large weights and values (that we have developed very differently for different people) which may act as magnets for other accumulating layers of mental work over time.
So, the concept of average stress is much more complex, yet much more instrumentally valuable when defined correctly, for now, we not only can show how individual environments greatly affect our thinking, learning, and mental health, but how we can slowly begin to change and improve our lives over time. This means a lot for everyone. This releases all of us from the terrible myth of genetics currently taught in our schools. For me, this has been a very long (20 years) devotion to getting this information out along with various refinements and applications developed over time. It has been tough, for the educational community has been taken over by business and too much of social politics, neither of which has any real passion, care, or openness for innovation in education. This is why, education today has become a very tight ball of ignorance, all wrapped up in the areas where money can be made.
By Lynn Oliver
Lynn Oliver is a learning expert and is originally from Atlanta, Georgia. She graduated from the University of North Florida with a degree in Education. She taught part-time for many years while caring for her family. From her college years, she has maintained her desire to provide tools for change and improvement for all students and adults. She is now retired from teaching but has maintained a very passionate desire to have her learning theory and its evolving applications accepted by educators and used in school as a method for the long-term need for everyone.