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Why Boys Are Tuning Out

January 23, 2011

I discovered this TED talk  by speaker Ali Carr-Chellman called “Gaming to Re-engage Boys” about how schools today are leaving boys behind.  Think I am exaggerating? Consider that boys will soon account for just 30% of college students.

Among the reasons she gives for “why boys are opting to zone out” are:

  • Zero Tolerance for Boy Toys, such as toy guns and violence–including the inability to even write about subjects they might be interested in such as a favorite video game.
  • Fewer Male Teachers (93% of elementary teachers are female–sending the message that school is for girls, not for boys)
  • “Kindergarten is the New Second Grade”–serious curriculum compression harmful to all active children (not just boys)

The talk is just 12 minutes long. While I don’t agree with all of her next steps (she advocates more inventive and engaging educational video gaming among other things), she is dead on in identifying the problem with the culture.

She also says, rightly so, that video games are not the cause but the symptom of a long period of turning off to education.

What can we do?

Her advice:

  • Design better games ( most educational games are glorified  flashcards, not engaging)
  • Talk to teachers, parents, school board members, and politicians
  • Find more money for game design
  • Look at teacher attitudes

Found via the Daily Riff (great site for education issues)

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