It would be a lie to say that we treat everyone the same. You don’t treat your brother and sister the same way you treat your mom and dad. In the same way, teachers treat boys and girls differently in the classroom. Teachers pass on their own beliefs to their students, either unconsciously or on purpose. The way boys and girls are treated is different, and this affects how they act and what they think about themselves. We all know that kids are very observant, and that’s where a teacher’s power lies: in her or his role as a leader. Boys and girls can take what they hear from their teachers to heart, and what they hear becomes what they believe.
I’ll start by explaining why most schools have a lot of gender bias in the dreaded or loved physical education class. Virginie et al. (2007) found that gym teachers talked to and interacted with boys a lot more than they did with girls. No matter who the teacher was, boys got more criticism, while girls got more praise and correction. Boys stand out because they get more attention in general, both good and bad. Girls, on the other hand, are just seen. This makes it clear to girls that they need more help and need to work harder. Unintentionally, gym teachers keep up the idea that girls are just background characters in the gym. Who gets the most attention shows kids who should get more attention and why. Teachers also need to be aware of how they give feedback, because kids judge their physical and mental abilities based on the tone and words used by their teachers. “You are…” becomes “I am…”
Consuegra, Engels, and Willegems did an interesting study that fits well with this argument (2016). They videotaped 13 high school teachers in three schools and then had them talk about what they did to confirm what they had seen. After watching the videos and talking with the teachers, it became clear that the quality of interactions was more important than the number of them. Students had different ideas about and reactions to how teachers behaved. This means that students have a say in whether teachers’ biases and negative expectations are internalized or resisted (Consuegra, Engels, & Willegems, 2016). Whether kids believe what they are told or question it changes how they see themselves. I can’t leave out the fact that both boys and girls are affected by constant negative feedback. Myhill’s research from 2002 showed that “high-achieving boys tend to do poorly in middle school.” Girls are less likely to have trouble in school because their friends encourage them to try. The old saying, “Think before you speak,” is important for both adults and kids.
The next study I looked at looked at 1025 German first-graders (Gentrup & Rjosk, 2018). It came to the conclusion that “in the first years of schooling, there are big differences between boys and girls in how well they can read and, to a lesser extent, do math.” Even though the difference between how well girls and boys do in math is smaller, the difference in how well they read and write is not talked about as much. Swan (2017) would say that boys’ academic weaknesses don’t matter as much because they are talked to more in the classroom.
Their relationships with their teachers give them a chance to show their weaknesses without being seen as weak. Girls, on the other hand, get in trouble if they are too loud or not paying attention, which makes their academic problems a result of how they act. The passive stereotype is strengthened by the idea that a girl’s poor grades are her own fault. Boys are thought to be noisier by nature, so teachers assume that boys’ off-task behavior is due to their genes. Does that make sense?
Swan (2017) even says that girls have to work harder to get the same grades and praise from their teachers as boys. Fagot (1981) found that male preschool teachers gave more leadership roles to male students. This backs up this finding. But Legewie and DiPrete (2012) found that “boys are overrepresented in every failed or special needs category,” including dropping out of high school. There’s no doubt that teachers affect how motivated and interested kids are in school.
What does this mean for the way we teach our kids? We know from reading other blog posts that girls and boys learn in different ways because of how their brains work. I’ve come to the conclusion that we should take into account these biological differences but not treat men and women differently because of them.
Teachers spend more time correcting girls than boys because girls are told they have to be perfect to be on the same level as boys. Because “boys will be boys,” they can be noisier and get more attention for it. From what I’ve learned, I think that teachers treat boys and girls differently and mold them into people who fit common stereotypes. Students’ futures are often based on how their teachers treat them. Even though kids have choices, teachers need to be careful about how they spend their time and treat certain kids.