Teaching Boys Who Struggle in School: Strategies That Turn Underachievers into Successful Learners

Teaching Boys Who Struggle in School: Strategies That Turn Underachievers into Successful Learners

Teaching Boys Who Struggle in School: Strategies That Turn Underachievers into Successful Learners

Teaching Boys Who Struggle in School: Strategies That Turn Underachievers into Successful Learners

Synopsis

Teaching Boys Who Struggle in School: Strategies That Turn Underachievers into Successful Learners responds to growing concerns about a crisis in boys' academic achievement. Kathleen Palmer Cleveland seeks to help K-12 educators cut through the hype to get at the real problem: who is underachieving, why are they struggling, and how can educators respond to these students' needs in new and productive ways?

Cleveland presents findings from four large-scale studies about how boys learn best and combines these findings with insights about ongoing social and learning-style factors that affect learning in the classroom, plus lesson plans and anecdotes from real teachers working across all grade levels and subject areas.

Cleveland's Pathways to Re-Engagement represents the culmination of her substantial research and personal experience. A flexible and practical framework for decision making in the classroom, the Pathways model seeks to

• Replace the underachieving boy's negative attitudes about learning;

• Reconnect each boy with school, with learning, and with a belief in himself as a competent learner;

• Rebuild learning skills that lead to success in school and in life; and

• Reduce the need for unproductive and distracting behaviors as a means of self-protection.

Each aspect of the Pathways to Re-Engagement model offers educators a way to move underachieving boys from a position of weakness toward one of strength--giving them the tools to succeed in school and beyond.

Excerpt

In recent years, I have watched with concern the steady increase of claims regarding a crisis in boys’ achievement. Magazine covers, television programs, and books paint a grim picture of “a stunning gender reversal in American education” (Conlin, 2003) that is characterized by an alarming decline in boys’ scholastic prowess in every grade level, kindergarten through postgraduate (MSNBC, 2006; Tyre, 2006). Some authors refer to emerging neuroscientific findings and suggest that boys and girls—by virtue of each gender’s brain- and hormone-based differences—actually learn in different ways (Gurian & Stevens, 2005; Sax, 2005) and thus also need to be taught in ways that are selectively gender-friendly, even if this means a return to the single-sex classrooms of old.

As an educator and researcher, I looked for ways to confirm or deny what I was reading and to make sense of what sounded like a massive problem requiring an immediate, nationwide response. My background in brainbased learning, learning styles, and multiple intelligences made me both skeptical and curious about underachievement perspectives based primarily on differences between boys and girls.

I sought clarity about this issue with the same process of inquiry I use in my work, which is to say that I was alternately confused, excited, frustrated, overwhelmed, and illuminated in nearly equal measure. After many months, I arrived at a perspective about underachievement in boys that I believe . . .

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