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View Full Version : Is sexism from teachers in school a problem?


agiantdwarf
01-11-2004, 03:15 AM
In school, I've always noticed that some female teachers (and sometimes male teachers), especially in the early grades, are biased against boys.

The following is from experience, not statistics or citations, but I'm absolutely sure they are not isolated cases.

First of all, they have lower expectations of males. They consider boys "wild animals" and sometimes even tell them this. They discipline boys and girls differently, usually using negative reinforcement for boys. You also might remember a thread of mine where I posted that my school has no entrance doors to the boys' bathrooms, but does have doors for the girls' bathrooms.

Second of all, they use "creative" assignments for class. These usually entail decorating something. This is obviously something girls are much better at and would enjoy doing more than boys.

Perhaps I'm being too sensitive. But most people with whom I've discussed this were apathetic about the subject, because they don't seem to believe that boys are discriminated against. But couldn't this contribute to boys' falling behind girls (http://www.couplescompany.com/Advice/Parenting/BoysGirls.htm)? Doesn't anyone care about that?

Odesio
01-11-2004, 03:40 AM
Originally posted by agiantdwarf
In school, I've always noticed that some female teachers (and sometimes male teachers), especially in the early grades, are biased against boys.


I can't really say I noticed that when I was in grade school. Not that I was paying attention to that kind of thing to begin with though. Except for my high school sociology teacher who said we'd be better off if we raised our males the same way we raised our females.


Second of all, they use "creative" assignments for class. These usually entail decorating something. This is obviously something girls are much better at and would enjoy doing more than boys.


Who didn't enjoy creative assignments in grade school? Finger painting, art class, etc were all fun for me when I was a wee lad.


Perhaps I'm being too sensitive. But most people with whom I've discussed this were apathetic about the subject, because they don't seem to believe that boys are discriminated against. But couldn't this contribute to

Supposedly boys are more likely to drop out of high school, less likely to attend college, and more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol then girls. I suppose maybe for whatever reason we've ignored the problems boys have had. Maybe we've accepted it under the "boys will be boys" doctrine.

Marc

Lissa
01-11-2004, 12:19 PM
I had the exact opposite experience.

I went to a private religious school, which espoused the view that males were superior to females. Boy should be trained for exciting careers, while girls were actively discouraged from preparing for any career other than a wife and mother.

Discipline for girls was harsh, but lenient for boys. Girls had a highly restrictive dress code, whereas boys could wear pretty much what they wanted. Boys could play sports, but girls could only participate as cheerleaders.

But you know, oddly enough, the girls who graduated from that school are more successful than the boys. Apparently the lessons that women should stay at home didn't sink in properly!

SnoopyFan
01-11-2004, 02:50 PM
The answer you'll get will depend on who you ask, OP.

MrSnoopy went to a tiny Christian private school in podunk West Virginia. There, the girls ruled and the boys were treated terribly. The girls got all the scholarships and opportunities and were the teacher's pets.

Meanwhile at the same time I was in public school in western Kentucky. The boys got more attention from the teachers and girls were almost completely ignored in math and science classes. My Algebra II teacher's idea of teaching girls was screaming "THINK!!!!!! USE YOUR BRAIN!" at them until they cried.

There are probably several reasons for boys falling behind girls. in school today. This is just my own theory but I think parents have a lot to do with it. In general, men really don't have to be "smart" (school wise, I mean) to make a living. If you've got a strong body, you can make good money doing jobs that don't require a lot of thought or "book learnin'." (NOTE: I am not saying that construction workers and the like are automatically stupid/did bad in school.) I've seen men who were almost totally illiterate pulling down extremely good money because their jobs were purely physical.

Women, on the other hand, had better have some credentials (education, achievements, etc.) if they ever want to get a really good job. It could be that parents today are pushing their daughters harder than their sons because their sons, biologically, have something to fall back on if they don't do well in school. If little Johnny gets tired of high school and quits, that's okay because he can work for Uncle Mike's company doing drywall and make $15-20 an hour. If little Susie quits high school, she'll flip burgers for the rest of her life for minimum wage.

That's how it seems to be around here, anyway.

Palo Verde
01-11-2004, 03:38 PM
I have a son in elementary school. And I've had the opposite experience. I guess it has a lot to do with the teacher.

My son is praised for his good behavior on a regular basis. He has also been punnnished for occasional naughty behaviour.

I can't agree that girls like to be creative more than boys. They've been studying Japan and he loved to make Japanese style drawings and sculptures.

Sounds like a problem with the school and/or teacher.

TurboD
01-11-2004, 10:44 PM
I believe there is quite a lot of sexism against boys and men.

For more info check out www.warrenfarrell.com

I highly recommend his books:
The Myth of Male Power
Why Men Are the Way They Are.

Also, for immediate gratification you could check out www.backlash.com

RickJay
01-12-2004, 12:12 AM
Lots of school discriminate against blacks. In Canada, discrimination against aboriginals is commonplace, especially in the Prairie provinces. I can believe both girls AND boys are discriminated against depending on what school you go to.

Just a few weeks ago we were at Mrs. RickJay's aunt's and uncle's place. They have a son and a daughter, 10 and 12 years old I believe. Mrs. RickJay's aunt favours her son over her daughter so much that it's almost surreal; if I didn't know better I'd have guessed they weren't serious, perhaps acting out some sort of dinner theatre. It's as if she's TRYING to make her guests think she adores her son but hates her daughter. After four or five hours of this - culminating with her cutting up her ten-year-old son's food for him (shouldn't a 10-year-old know how to use a fork and knife??) while simutaneously insulting her own daughter for some imagined offense, we were so sick of watching the whole repulsive act we had to leave. At yet, I believe she is quite unaware that she is doing this, at least on a conscious level.

And this woman is a SCHOOLTEACHER. D'ya think she favours the boys in her class over the girls?

phouka
01-14-2004, 12:36 AM
It could be argued (and sometimes is) that the very structure of school discriminates against boys. Schools expect students to sit quietly in one place, focused on one activity at a time, usually with minimal interaction with others - or in the case of group work, interaction under very specific restrictions. Girls tend to do better at these tasks. Boys tend to do worse. Boys tend to act out physically, as opposed to verbally. They get squirrelly. They want to move around. When they interact with their peers, they tend to get physical - horseplay and rough housing.

Overall, I don't believe there is any inherent discrimination against boys. Of the behavior problems I encounter as a teacher, girls and boys tend to even out. Different teachers, different administrators, and different schools will have different approaches, so of course YMMV.

kunilou
01-14-2004, 10:19 AM
I've had this discussion with Mrs. Kunilou, her fellow teachers and the teachers who taught my own kids. They all tend to say the same things:

1) Girls and boys are different. All of these teachers got into the business thinking that if you treat boys and girls the same, they will act the same, it will reverse sexism in the workplace, etc. etc. Amazingly, they all discovered in their first year of teaching that boys and girls are different.

2) Boys and girls act differently. Look at the difference between girl bullies and boy bullies.

3) Boys and girls respond differently. For that matter, so do athletic vs. academically-oriented kids, urban vs. suburban vs. rural kids, rich vs. poor kids -- almost any A/B grouping you can name. But the point is, boys and girls respond differently.

Therefore, any form of discipline, encouragement or activity that's anywhere near "one size fits all" is going to seem tilted toward the boys or the girls in the class.

AHunter3
01-14-2004, 01:47 PM
First of all, they have lower expectations of males. They consider boys "wild animals" and sometimes even tell them this. They discipline boys and girls differently, usually using negative reinforcement for boys. You also might remember a thread of mine where I posted that my school has no entrance doors to the boys' bathrooms, but does have doors for the girls' bathrooms.

That brings back some really ancient hurts and resentments, yes. I was quite good at competing with the girls as a young boy, but so much of it is informal and therefore simply was not open to me as a boy.


Second of all, they use "creative" assignments for class. These usually entail decorating something. This is obviously something girls are much better at and would enjoy doing more than boys.

That's different. If the boys and the girls are being treated the same, it either is or is not a good way for children to be treated (in school or elsewhere). If girls respond better to that environment, that just makes girls better, it doesn't make the institution sexist. Quite the contrary*. You could argue that the learning experience should be different in the first place, but such an argument should not be founded on beliefs about boys versus girls. I would not have appreciated being in a school that was trying to teach me "in a boy-friendly manner".

* I always felt like "PE", aka "gym", was implemented in school in order to have a "class for the boys to be good in", in fact. Never understood why athletics have a damn thing to do with education, myself.

smilla
01-14-2004, 01:54 PM
I can't offer any real cites, but I do recall a lot of stuff a few years ago ('98, '99) about how girls feel behond boys in school because of participation: teachers tended to call more on boys and have higher expectations. In my experience as a sub, gender discrimination seems to go both ways. Sometimes I find myself censuring boys more because they tend more towrads loud talking, name-calling, hitting, horsing around, etc. That's not to say girls don't do that too, just a lot less, especially with physcial violence. Although I did just have a class of 6th graders where some of the girls were just as violent as the boys. It really depends on the age. Anyway, discrimination also cuts against girls too. I've found that boys are more active participants and I have to work really hard to get some girls in on the action. Once again, this varies too, by school, by grade, even by race (mostly Hispanics student bodies versus mostly black student bodies).

Mister Rik
01-15-2004, 04:44 PM
AHunter3:
I always felt like "PE", aka "gym", was implemented in school in order to have a "class for the boys to be good in", in fact. Never understood why athletics have a damn thing to do with education, myself.

It's probably related to the ongoing urbanization of people. Way back when, kids performed more physical labor (chores, working on the family farm, etc) and forms of entertainment involving physical exertion were more popular. Not to mention having to walk everywhere most of the time. In the last several decades, physical labor by children has become far less common, the most popular forms of entertainment are now sedentary activities, and kids get driven everywhere. So gym class provides them with the physical activity they lack in the rest of their routine.