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Schoolboys deprived of educational role models

By AMANDA DUNN

Tuesday 12 June 2001      
This tiny article appeared in an Australian newspaper.


Boys were disadvantaged and alienated at school by a lack of male educational role models and by teaching methods that failed to recognise their particular learning needs, educators said yesterday.

A report in yesterday's Age, based on research from Adelaide's Flinders University, showed widespread disillusionment in school for boys in years 9 to 11 fuelled by a disconnection from curriculums and a belief that girls were favoured by teachers.

Wes Imms, a former teacher who is completing a doctoral thesis on gender issues in schools, said teaching methods and content needed to better suit boys' particular needs.

"I think something that we've not done very well in the past is acknowledge the fact that boys and girls do tend to learn differently," he said.

Boys tended to be more active and physical in their learning than girls. Where girls are often happy to sit and listen to instructions, he said, boys are often more anxious to rush in and try for themselves, which they were not always free to do.

Mr Imms said past research had tended to look at boys themselves, rather than a slanted curriculum, as the problem. "If any attention at all has been paid to boys in the literature over the past few years, it tends to be what we can do to fix them to make them more like girls," he said.

Anne Magee, a senior teacher at Xavier College, said it was important for boys to have greater access to young, male teachers who could act as educational role models for them.