Report on myths about gender and education

This UK-based report by the department for Children, Schools and Families is a bit older (2009), but more relevant than ever as it collects the most important myths about gender in education. Check the report for the different references:

Myth: All boys underachieve, and all girls now achieve well at school.
Reality: Many boys achieve highly, and conversely many girls underperform.

Myth: Boys underachieve across the curriculum.
Reality: Boys broadly match girls in achievement at maths and science.

Myth: Boys’ educational performance suffers because the existing school curriculum doesn’t meet boys’ interests.
Reality: There is no evidence to suggest that the content of the secondary curriculum reflects particularly gendered interests, or that such interests equate with attainment.

Myth: Boys are ‘naturally’ different to girls, and learn in different ways.
Reality: There is little evidence to suggest that neurological (‘brainsex’) differences result in boys having different abilities/ways of learning to girls.

Myth: Boys and girls have different learning styles, which teaching needs
to match.
Reality: Learning styles as a concept are highly contested. There is no evidence that learning styles can be clearly distinguished one from another, or that these learning styles are gender specific.

Myth: Coursework favours girls and ‘sudden death’ examinations favour boys.
Reality: Changes in assessment practice reducing the value of the GCSE coursework component have had little impact on gendered achievement patterns.

Myth: Boys prefer male teachers.
Reality: For the majority of boys and girls, the teacher’s gender has no bearing on their preferences for a teacher.

Myth: Boys benefit from a competitive learning environment.
Reality: Competitive learning practices may actively disengage those boys who do not immediately succeed.

Myth: Single-sex classes are the best means to improve boys’ and girls’ achievement.
Reality: Single-sex classes have very mixed results, and have not been shown to be the decisive ingredient in lifting boys’ achievement, but have, in some cases, improved girls’ achievement.

Myth: Boys prefer non-fiction.
Reality: Boys who prefer to read nonfiction are a minority.

Myth: Changing or designing the curriculum to be ‘boy-friendly’ will increase boys’ motivation and aid their achievement.
Reality: Designing a ‘boy-friendly’ curriculum has not been shown to improve boys’ achievement.

Myth: Girls are naturally better at reading and writing.
Reality: Girls in general do perform better than boys at English, and the gap between boys’ and girls’ performance at Key Stage 2 is much larger in writing than reading. However, the largest gaps in English performance are at school level.

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1 Comment

Filed under Education, Myths

One response to “Report on myths about gender and education

  1. Pingback: Report on myths about gender and education | From experience to meaning… | oeffblog

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