Explanatory theories about boys’ underachievement
Many researchers have looked into the situation of boys’ underachievement and have tried to find some reasons about this gender disparity. Naturally, all the reasons given in many of the books that I have read and that I used in this first part of this essay are only theories as it is impossible to be sure about the real reasons of this underachievement.
The first theory to have being pointed out is the theory about the biological differences. It is a known fact that men tend to have bigger brains than women, which was incidentally used as a reason why women could not have accessed to higher education in the nineteenth century. However, it is ...view middle of the document...
Thus, researches have confirmed that gender is not completely a matter of nurture contrary to what we could have thought thirty years ago: “Gender is inborn and then it becomes socialized by cultures.” (Gurian & Stevens, 2005; p.73) However, despite all these researches, there is no scientific explanation to what it was found. People with a religious point of view would say that this is how God created us but this is not a reliable justification in a world where science took over religion in most people mind. Therefore, geneticists and biologists needed to find a more down-to-earth reason to these differences found between boys and girls new-born babies and:
“[t]he more science-based work in evolutionary biology suggests that the most probable cause for our male-female brain difference lies in the millions of years of human evolution, during which humans primarily hunted and gathered. Because males mainly hunted, they needed to develop a more spatial-mechanical brain. They needed to see well, but did not need fine detail sensory awareness as much as did females, who cared for offspring. The male brain was wired, therefore, for more physical movement—with more blood flow in the brain stem than the female brain has—but for less verbal input and output. (Words weren’t needed much during the hunt.)” (Gurian & Stevens, 2005; pp.73-74)
Nevertheless, even though it has been proven that nature plays a role in some of the gender differences, nurture still have a role to play in these differences. Boys and girls would be socialised differently within a family environment which means that they would acquire attitudes and behaviours specific to their own gender. For instance, girls would be more socialised to be obedient and organised while boys would be more encouraged to be active and aggressive. This difference in the way that people raise boys and girls would contribute to create a different connection towards the role that boys and girls have as pupils and, therefore, would explain boy’s underachievement. Generally, girls easily comply with their role as pupils that every school are expecting from their students unlike boys. For these reasons, they achieve better at school than boys.
Apart from the biological and the socialisation in the family theories, one of the other theories important to approach is the theory about socialisation at school. Unlike girls, boys suffer from an immense social pressure from peers. Being part of a group is something that every boy is looking for when entering Secondary school but “[m]embership of the boys’ group demands acceptance of certain rules.” (Head, 1999; p.43) These rules can be very diverse, ranging from explicit things such as the dress code to implicit things such as talking about feelings. Boys, and even growing-up men, are forced to hide their weaknesses and to act as they are expected to: like macho men. But this kind of behaviour constrained by boys’ peers is also required by the society. The...