We now know that nature and nurture make a difference. The environmental differences in our homes, schools and communities create our children, but the makeup of their brains have quite a bit to do with it, as well. There are real genetic differences in the way boys’ and girls’ brains work. These differences result in girls typically being better at language-based tasks and since more and more school work is focused on reading and writing, boys may get left behind. Boys get left behind not only in their production of quality work and in test scores, but--maybe more importantly-- in their enthusiasm about school. They don’t see school as a place where they can be successful or that where they enjoy being. One author has called the typical school day a “total language arts curriculum”. Even when studying math, students spend a large amount of time writing about math. And reading about science has become the primary mode of learning about science. While integrating reading and writing with all subject areas is a useful and beneficial tool, when it becomes the primary strategy we lose those students who need to “do” to internalize the learning.--and many times these are our boys.

Boys need to be given the tools they need to succeed in school, including strategies that incorporate their interests and keep them actively engaged. They also need help with the unique social and emotional problems they face in school.

What will happen if we don’t focus on boys?

As pointed out with our statistics, there’s a price already being paid—both individually and globally. A decline in our boys’ success has not only individual consequences that will shake families to their core, but also economic and social implications, impacting our quality of life. We have made great strides shoring up our systems to meet the needs of girls and while we must continue this work, especially in areas where girls have typically fallen behind, we also must pay attention to what is happening with our boys.