! You are concerned about statistical evidence that indicates that boys
are falling behind girls in reading and writing.
! You are concerned by reports in the media about boys’ achievement in
reading and writing.
! You are a parent of a boy, or boys, and are concerned about what
you’ve observed about their reluctance to read and/or write.
! You notice differences between the ways in which boys and girls
engage In literacy based activities in your classroom.
! You had nothing better to do.
! You heard that the presenter was cute.
! You’re in the wrong place. You thought Chris Wejr was speaking
again, but you’re too embarrassed to draw attention to yourself and
Consider what kind of teacher is the
ideal teacher for boys.
Draw a sketch and write a brief description of the
teacher who would be best suited to teach young boys
and influence their attitudes about reading and writing.
• Is an accomplished
• Feels competent as a
• Enjoys fiction / narratives
• Identifies with characters,
feelings in the text
• Writes with confidence
• Identifies as a non-reader
• Doesn’t feel competent
as a reader
• Prefers non-fiction to
fiction (i.e info-text, or
• Identifies with action and
events in stories
• Experiences anxiety
when prompted to write
A variety of research shows that
boys learn to read later than girls
and never catch up. They trail girls
on almost every literacy measure in
every country and culture from which
data are available. They are
particularly behind when it comes to
reading novels and extended forms of
narrative fiction – the kind of reading
that counts most in language arts
classes. (Smith, and Wilhelm, 2002)
• Boys generally provide lower estimates of their reading
abilities than girls do.
• Boys value reading as an activity less than girls do.
• Boys have much less interest in leisure reading and are far
more likely to read for utilitarian purposes than girls are.
• Significantly more boys than girls declare themselves “non-
• Boys spend less time reading and express less enthusiasm
for reading than girls do.
• Boys increasingly consider themselves non-readers as they
get older; very few designate themselves as such early in
their schooling, but nearly 50% make that designation by
Boys and girls express interest in reading different things, and they do read different
Boys are more inclined to read informational texts.
Boys are more inclined to read magazine articles and newspaper articles.
Boys are more inclined to read graphic novels and comic books.
Boys tend to resist reading stories about girls, whereas girls do not tend to resist
reading stories about boys.
Boys are more enthusiastic about reading electronic texts than girls are.
Boys like to read about hobbies, sports and things they might do or be interested in
Boys like to collect things and tend to like to collect series of books.
Poetry is less popular with boys than with girls.
Girls read more fiction.
Boys tend to enjoy escapism and humour; some groups of boys are passionate about
science fiction and fantasy.
Boys take longer to learn to read than girls do.
Boys read less than girls read.
Girls tend to comprehend narrative texts and
most expository texts significantly better than
Boys tend to be better at information retrieval
and work-related literacy tasks than girls are.
The appearance of a book and its cover is important
Boys are less likely to talk about or overtly respond to
their reading than girls are.
Boys prefer active responses in reading in which they
physically act out responses, do, or make something.
Boys tend to receive more open and direct criticism
for weaknesses in their reading and writing
Boys require more teacher time in coed settings.
If you have lots of boys in an English or
language arts class – or so the
conventional wisdom goes – you can
expect to have problems.
• Boys tend to move around and get out of their seats
more often than girls.
• Boys tend to require more physical space when
working independently than girls. (Did you ever
notice that boys tend to have an arm or a leg in the
space of the person sitting next to them?)
• Boys tend to grasp spatial concepts more rapidly
than girls while girls seem to embrace the use of
language to convey their understanding of concepts
more readily than boys.
• Girls seem to be a great deal more talkative than
• Girls are less likely to use physical force to resolve
conflicts than boys.
contents; tone of voice;
gestures; social, musical,
visual, spatial, and
self-image, body image,
emotional and visual
Boys use right-side of
brain to work on abstract
problems; girls use both
Males superior at spatial
Processes language in
most people; reading,
writing, math, verbal
thoughts and memory,
developed in the female
superiority at language
Females superior at
Contains neurons that connect
to other parts of the brain and
spinal cord and facilitate
smooth, precise movement;
balance; and speech
Stronger connecting pathways
in female brain between brain
Females have superior
language and fine-motor skills;
males less intuitive , as fewer
parts of brain involved in
Facilitates speech, thought,
and emotion; produces
neurons for skilled movement
Likely more active in females
communication skills in
Multiple Intelligences (Gardner, 1983):
1. Verbal/Linguistic intelligence
2. Logical-mathematical intelligence
3. Spatial intelligence
4. Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence
5. Musical intelligence
6. Interpersonal intelligence
7. Intrapersonal intelligence
8. Naturalist intelligence
9. Existential intelligence
8 Ways of Teaching
2. numbers or logic
4. a physical experience
6. A social experience
8. An experience in the natural
9. Real world connections
Gender is a social construction
rather than a biological one.
“Whether the males in our society
have been betrayed as Susan
Faludi writes, lost or abandoned
as William Pollack writes, or
treated as losers as Christian Hoff
Sommers writes, we are faced
with helping them to become
proficient readers and writers.”
…sociocultural theorists and scholars from Australia and the
United Kingdom have led the way in arguing that boys’ problems
with literacy in school stem from a resistance rooted in the belief
that reading isn’t appropriately masculine.
I don’t want to
Excerpt from Sharon Creech’s novel, Love that Dog.
emphasizes that changing
methods, and expectations can
change the experience of kids.
• Clear goals (expectations and rules are discernable).
• Concentrating and focusing, a high degree of concentration on a
limited field of attention (a person engaged in the activity will have
the opportunity to focus and to delve deeply into it).
• A loss of the feeling of self-consciousness, the merging of action
• Distorted sense of time - our subjective experience of time is altered.
• Direct and immediate feedback (successes and failures in the
course of the activity are apparent, so that behavior can be adjusted
• Balance between ability level and challenge (the activity is not too
easy or too difficult).
• A sense of personal control over the situation or activity.
• The activity is intrinsically rewarding, so there is an effortlessness of
How does it feel to be in "the flow"?
• Completely involved, focused, concentrating - with this either due to
innate curiosity or as the result of training
• Sense of ecstasy - of being outside everyday reality
• Great inner clarity - knowing what needs to be done and how well it is
• Knowing the activity is doable - that the skills are adequate, and neither
anxious or bored
• Sense of serenity - no worries about self, feeling of growing beyond the
boundaries of ego - afterwards feeling of transcending ego in ways not
• Timeliness - thoroughly focused on present, don't notice time passing
• Intrinsic motivation - whatever produces "flow" becomes its own reward
• A sense of control and competence.
• A challenge that requires an appropriate
amount of skill.
• Clear goals and feedback.
• A focus on the immediate experience.
-(Smith and Wilhelm, 2002)
“So how do we
our boys to
solution is to get
more men involved
in teaching, more
reading with their
boys, and adult
showing boys that
reading is a male
Boys like to read:
• Books that reflect their image of themselves – what they aspire to be
• Books that make them laugh and that appeal to their sense of mischief
• Fiction, but fiction that focuses on action more than emotions
• Books in series, such as the Harry Potter series, which seem to provide
boys with a sense of comfort and familiarity
• Science fiction or fantasy (many boys are passionate about these
• Newspapers, magazines, comic books, baseball cards, and instruction
manuals – materials that are not often available in the classroom.
Interestingly, when they read these materials, many boys do not
consider themselves to be reading at all, precisely because these
materials are not valued at school.
A good book for a boy is one he wants to read.
“Girls are riveted to relationships and boys
are riveted to action and issues.”
“Boys are more interested in reading to find
out how to do things or in following action
oriented or problem solving stories.”
“Boys tend not to be interested in
excessively descriptive narrative language,
except for in one notable exception…”
…science fiction and fantasy, in which is
contained some of the most significant
amounts of descriptive language found in
fiction. It is believed that the appeal of these
genres is linked to the pleasure of “escaping”
to a different world.
…”the literate lives of all the boys outside of school were
surprisingly varied and rich, but this home/outside/real-world
literacy was practiced in ways that looked quite different
from the literacy they were asked to practice in schools.
While the boys were often passionate about the literate
activities they pursued outside of school, they usually saw
school literacy as a tool, not as something to be passionate
...”school literacy was related in the boys’ minds to the far-
off future; home literacy was about immediate interests in
the here and now. School literacy was a means to an often
unrecognized and ambiguous end; home literacy was a
concrete and immediately satisfying end in itself.”
Ways of unlocking access for boys:
• Music as text
• Action – visual, emotional, action filled, high impact
• Exportable into conversation
• Offer Multiple Perspectives
• Edgy or Subversive
• Powerful Ideas
“Teachers ask very few questions for
which they don’t have specific
answers in mind.”