LETTER- Boy may just not hear
The essay [January 4: "Don't believe it: The 'boy crisis' is pure bunk" says that "males as natural troublemakers simply doesn't pan out." Absolutely correct; however, because of biology, boys frequently are identified by teachers as creating problems in the classroom.
It has long been known that because of cochlear differences, males do not hear high or soft sounds as well as females. Consequently, it may be difficult for boys to hear a soft-spoken teacher in a noisy classroom. A child may appear to have attentional issues or to be deliberately disobeying when in fact the boy cannot hear the teacher.
Recent research by Jay N. Giedd and others demonstrated that the brains of boys and girls mature in different patterns and at different rates. Because of differential development in the verbal centers in the brain, many boys do not begin reading as early as their female age-mates due to biological not behavioral differences.
The essay suggests that educating boys and girls separately will be to the detriment of boys. In fact, my research discovered that boys who attend single-sex schools are more likely to major in the liberal arts in college than were boys who graduated from coed schools and in 2004, 68 percent of all students graduating in liberal arts were women. If we want to produce young men who have strong verbal skills, the best place to do that appears to be in a single sex classroom.
As a teacher with over 30 years experience in gendered education, I know that the best way for young girls and boys to learn is in an environment which is responsive to their learning strengths. That environment can best be provided when teachers can tailor teaching strategies to their students' learning capacities. See: Teaching the Male Brain: How Boys Think, Feel, and Learn in School.
Abigail Norfleet James