“Treating Boys Like Defective Girls” in School; Boys Need More Time in Motion, Study (FINALLY) Finds.
As a young boy, I did not sit still for long. I’m tempted to use the word “couldn’t”. In order to get me to eat, my mom would cut up a hot dog, put it on the plate on one end of the coffee table in the living room and let me do laps, eating a piece every lap or two. When I went to school, they didn’t know how to handle my rambunctiousness so I was held back a year. School was an environment that would only let me move a half-hour a day during school. I went from hot (dog) laps to sitting still all day.
My story began more than four decades ago – and the prescription for me wasn’t “keep him moving”, it was “give him Ritalin” to get me compliant. My mom refused and worked with me all through school to help me conform to a world that wouldn’t let me move. I was told, from four-years-old, that it was me. That I was the problem.
Researchers at the University of Eastern Finland recently tried to document whether boys actually achieve less in school when they’re restricted from running around and being physically active.
They studied 153 kids, aged 6 to 8, and tracked how much physical activity and sedentary time they had during the day. Sure enough, according to a report by Belinda Luscombe in Time, the less “moderate to vigorous physical activity” the boys had each day, the harder it was for them to develop good reading skills:
The more time kids … spent sitting and the less time they spent being physically active, the fewer gains they made in reading in the two following years. [It] also had a negative impact on their ability to do math.
Now here’s the best part – and this is what really fries my bacon:
The results didn’t apply to girls. I know that sounds sexist; the researchers offered a few possible explanations. Maybe there simply are physiological differences—or maybe the girls were just as eager to move around as the boys, but they were better able to set aside that disappointment and concentrate.
And for that reason, other researchers say, girls are rewarded more than boys in the classroom.
“Girl behavior is the gold standard in schools,” says psychologist Michael Thompson. “Boys are treated like defective girls.”
The emphasis above is mine. What is sexist is expecting boys to behave like girls and treating them as “defective girls” in school if they act according to their nature. Now, I’m sure all of the open-minded people out there who have the delusion that sexism only works one way will complain that what the study found is not right – maybe the sample size wasn’t big enough so more study is needed, but I lived it. I’m here to tell you, if you multiply this out over time, the ramifications are devastating.
And, according to the article linked above, it gets worse: The punishment for being rambunctious is more time sitting still which compounds the problem, especially for boys, rather than fix it. It appears as though there might be hope. One school in Texas has implemented four recess periods into the school day…
Result? Students are “less fidgety and more focused,” one teacher said. They “listen more attentively, follow directions, and try to solve problems on their own instead of coming to the teacher to fix everything.”
Well imagine that.