Countless publications and research studies point out that girls are outpacing boys in classrooms across the United States. For decades, researchers have warned that evolving educational practices were not addressing the key differences in how boys learn. As boys continue to decline in academic achievement and college attendance, many private institutions, and recently some public schools, have begun addressing the need for boy-friendly classrooms.
For well over 100 years, all-male boarding schools have provided a living laboratory for understanding the educational practices that work best for adolescent boys. For starters, the single sex environment removes the distractions of who likes whom, who is dressed the coolest, and other cultural concerns that exist in coeducational environments. Too often, boys come to believe that striving for academic success is “not cool’, or “that’s what the nerds do”. Most all-male institutions have replaced these beliefs with positive peer pressure that raises academic expectations and frees adolescent boys to seek their true academic potential.
In most “boy-friendly” classrooms, there is stronger emphasis on experiential learning. Hands on learning experiences and real world interactions are used to enhance traditional classroom learning. Curriculum development plays a key role as well. Allowing boys to select reading assignments that appeal to boys and offering boy-friendly electives like wood shop, computer applications, and video production greatly enhance a boy’s engagement in school.
All-male military schools take this a step further by providing a school environment with clearly defined structure, hierarchy, and rules. Students are encouraged to rise through the ranks and become key players in the formation and improvement of their living and learning environment. A boy’s natural tendencies to desire control of their environment and push traditional boundaries are harnessed and put to productive purposes. Through this, boys gain is self-esteem, commitment to teamwork, and loyalty to their peers.
Parents and educators often look at young boys and wonder, “what is wrong with him?”, or “why won’t he engage in school?” These boys are bright and often hold high marks on IQ tests. They simply will not engage in school due to an unfriendly learning environment. Perhaps it is time to look at the school. Addressing the environmental factors that put boys in the best possible position to succeed academically is essential. Boys will be boys, so those schools that have addressed their uniqueness will create the best results.
Apply for St. John’s today. You’re not committed to anything…it’s just a step in the right direction for you and your son’s future.