On teaching boys

When I heard I was being placed in a boys school I couldn’t believe it. As a linguist I spend a lot of university teaching time thinking about how to engage and enthuse boys in what is essentially a feminine subject, so you can imagine that I went in the first day with a fair amount of trepidation. However, I have to admit to having been very pleasantly surprised with how much I’ve enjoyed the process of teaching just boys.

For a start, I’m teaching German. Boys seem to very much prefer German to French, but I haven’t yet reached a definite conclusion on why that could be. Theories include the fact that German is more logical (these boys are quite geeky and love maths), that French is a more feminine language or that there’s something about the teaching of the two subjects that makes the difference. Anyway, the boys do seem to enjoy it and (so far) will go along with most of what I tell them to do.

For another thing, the wonderful thing about teaching boys is that they don’t hold a grudge. Even if you give them the bollocking of a lifetime they forgive you for it, even going so far as to still like you half an hour later.

I also like the fact that uniform misdemeanors are easy to correct. Do up your top button, tie your tie properly, tuck in your shirt – these are easy and straightforward commands to follow. There’s no dithering about what it an ‘acceptable’ length for a teenage girl’s skirt or how much make up is too much. This is good, from a purely practical standpoint of course.

But what I like the most is the pure joy of being around boys. They are straightforward creatures, they’ll tell you the truth if you’re daft enough to ask, they get stuck in to what ever you put in front of them and all they need to create settled lessons is a good run around at break and luch time.

At the moment I’m loving it – but I’m seeing a less well behaved class tomorrow, so I might feel differently after this.

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One Response to On teaching boys

  1. Kel D says:

    Hey,
    Have you changed your mind about linguistics being “essentially feminine” now that you have taught exclusively boys? Or has it made your mind up even more?

    I had a chat to a maths teacher turned linguistics student and he said he thought all the maths-sci women chose linguistics because of the cultural baggage related to doing something more … well… butch. And all the men who would be great at languages/linguistics went off to do engineering and maths because otherwise it was a bit effeminate.
    Though the only two linguists I can think of are men.

    It just seems to me that just under half of the world are not considered “feminine” and can speak at least one language and of those probably a fair proportion speak more than one.

    In Denmark, where I teach science in English to Danish children, I have found that boys and girls are evens in terms of both subjects.
    In England, where I taught just science, I found that boys were a bit better generally and when I covered mfl lessons girls were a little bit better generally.

    It feels like boy subject/girl subject is very location specific. In Belgium and Luxembourg, for instance, I will bet no one says languages in general (or French in particular) are feminine.

    I understand there has been research and scientists have made pronouncements but I am really not sure how *good* the research was and how much confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance there was going on.
    (I am very suspicious of scientists who say things like “girls like the colour pink because WHEN WE WERE CAVEMEN pink fruit was the best and girls picked fruit, innit” or the like.)

    Just wondered what you thought on this matter!

    Bet you can’t wait until Christmas! I wish you a very merry one x

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