Just Read This

Just read this from Claire. Then think about it next time you do a story. Then act. 

Little girls feeling like they’re just a distraction in school is not okay. Until we do what Robert does and call out little boys who treat girls that way, invading our space when we’re trying to communicate-nothing’s gonna change. TPRS in Robert’s class might be the only chance girls get to be treated like they get to “show up.”

The fact is research on girls in the classroom is horrifying. In the average classroom, girls are 3 times more likely to be interrupted, and every study out there shows that even when we go out of our way to call on students fairly, we don’t really. Dale Spender did a study where girls only contributed 15% of the classroom discussion, but that number increased to 38% (still unfair) when teachers were actively trying to get girls to talk; although the boys reported they “felt neglected during the teaching ex­periment.” Other studies show when males (male instructors and male students) are asked to rate their perception on how much girls talked, while females were more accurate, the males in the room dramatically over-estimated how often females talk. They perceive us as verbose , if our talk time goes from 15% to 38% because we’re female, so we’re supposed to be quiet, right? And then we wonder why anorexia and teenage pregnancy plague our schools. And why girls grow up and end up in bad relationships where they are supposed to just be quiet.

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4 thoughts on “Just Read This”

  1. Help me to see the connection between Robert’s situation and Spender’s research.

    In Robert’s TPRS class there were three students (at least one male and one female) who are distracting each other from the classroom discussion. So at least three students (in a 2:1 ratio for gender distribution) are not contributing and we have zero information about the ratio of those contributing. I picture it being HS kids because Robert teaches at the HS level. I am pretty sure it is a German class that is taught for fluency and in which students are encouraged to interact and but not necessarily in a verbal manner.

    In Spender’s we know nothing about disciplinary issues. We know only that in classroom discussion female students added 15% without encouragement and that that more that doubled after encouragement. We could assume that the teacher contribution is not counted and that males contributed 85% until the females were encouraged to contribute more. Male contribution was cut to 62%.

    What we do not know are the level of the students (ability-wise), the subject, the topics of discussion, the age of the students, the grade-level, the male:female ratio of the class, or the format of the discussion.

    If, for example, there were 17 boys and 3 girls and each one had a chance to contribute, then we could report that the boys dominated the discussion 85%:15. In my classes of lowest academic ability (we call them Level 2 classes, e.g., Spanish 2, Level 2 or Spanish 1, Level 2. Compare this with Spanish 1, Level 1 or Spanish 1 accelerated) there are always more males than females. This year there are 12 males and 5 females, roughly 2 1/2 times as many males as females.

    1. Oops. I just reread the title…maybe I wasn’t supposed to respond. (LBWEP Lazy Banana With Ends Up = smile)

  2. For decades studies have been showing that males hog teacher attention and react negatively whenever teachers try to even the playing field, even slightly, in favor of girls. Even teachers who are aware of the problem and consciously try to give more speaking time to girls fall short of 50%. I tried to be fair in my classes, but immediately came up against the problem that boys act up if you don’t call on them as often as they’d like, whereas girls accept being ignored.

    1. Yep. Equity. Access. It needs to be there. Interestingly enough, I have MORE female students than male students. So, I should be calling on more female students. I know that there are more superstars than I think because those quiet female students write the most elaborate free writes.

      What are the next steps?

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