Contemporay Issues in Education

Education, Gender and Sexual Identity

Given the issue that boys are more likely dropping out from schools because most teachers are women, Smith (2016), a senior lecturer from Cardiff University, argues that “a teacher’s gender has no measurable impact on pupils’ academic achievement”. I myself personally believe that there are many other reasons why female students academically outperform boys at school and are more likely to complete Year 12 than their male counterparts.

To begin with, girls tend to have more encouragement and focus on their study. In her research, Houtte (2004, p. 168) concludes that boys have ‘less study oriented’, while girls, according to Gwen Kenney-Benson, a psychology professor at Allegheny College cited in Gnaulati (2014), are “mastery-oriented in their schoolwork habits”. Similarly, The Economist (2015) explains that Girls read more than boys, and it is believed that reading proficiency is the basic skill in learning a new knowledge. In addition, girls also spend more time on homework, while boys nowadays tend to play online games and surf the internet in most of their time at home. Another compelling reason according to a research conducted by economic experts from the University of California at Davis is that “[girls are] born to be early birds” (Walker 2016). This also means that learning at school, which is basically run in the morning, benefits girls. On the contrary, studies also find that morning schools can be disadvantageous for young men who often find difficulty in sleeping at night, while girls are better at dealing with that problem and also the lack of sleep (Walker 2016). Another related reason is that education for women has long become a global concern by many sectors in all parts of the world. Lamb et al. (2015) state that girls have received more international support on education since the 1970s in order to be equally treated in the society. This is obvious that young women’s academic performance and achievement at school have been long prioritised.

Furthermore, many also believe that girls grow faster than boys in terms of maturity, so that they are mostly well managed and prepared for future goals. According to Donnely (2013), a Director of Education Standards Institute and author of Educating your child: It’s not rocket science, boys instead need to be directed and taught clearly by teachers, and today’s independent learning methods seem to be less favorable for boys because they mentally need to be guided in their learning process. In addition, Houtte (2004) points out that multiple studies have revealed that boys are often easier to be distracted by other activities, and they seem to take their study easier. However, in the case of Australia, Vickers (2013, p. 182) argues that part- and full-time job opportunities in Australia enable boys to take part without having completed their senior secondary school because sorts of job available tend to be dominantly masculine. On the contrary, young females being early leavers are often not considered and experience discrimination in the labour market. In my personal observation, based on the data released by Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture in 2017, early Year 12 leavers in 2016/2017 academic calendar are also dominated by males, accounted for 53,74% in senior high school and 64.03% in vocational high school. Generally, the dropout is caused by internal factors within the family living in the poverty which forces male students to work. In addition, boys are easily influenced by their negative surrounding such as juvenile delinquency and truancy.

In my personal experience, I am the first child in the family with two young brothers and I do not have any sisters. It is common to the culture belonged to my parents that boys should be able to do girls’ job at homes such as cleaning the house, doing the dishes, cooking, and many others. Yes, I am a part of Minangkabau people, the world’s largest matrilineal society from West Sumatera, where the boys are taught to be independent since they are very young, and are expected to leave home once they get older and survive in new places, lands, or countries. I also understand that most families whose parents are (highly) educated are aware of their children’s education priority, and it comes to me too. Despite the fact that girls are considered to be more excel academically than boys, I was in the top three per cent in the class maintaining my academic achievements from year 1 to 12, and I think it is because of the attitude of persistence in learning that my parents taught me. Nevertheless, in my workplace, I observed that the male and female students’ willingness to study is also determined by teachers’ performance regardless their gender. When teachers are able to deliver the materials by using innovative teaching methods, I believe students will be more engaged in, encouraged to, and curious about their study.  Moreover, we should balance our concerns to both genders’ education, so that no one will leave behind.

 

Reference List

Donnelly, K. 2013. Teaching has become feminised and boys lose out. Retrieved from https://www.smh.com.au/opinion/teaching-has-become-feminised-and-boys-lose-out-20131121-2xxu4.html

Gnaulati, E (2014) Why Girls Tend to Get Better Grades Than Boys Do. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/09/why-girls-get-better-grades-than-boys-do/380318/

Houtte, MV. (2004) Why boys achieve less at school than girls: the difference between boys’ and girls’ academic culture. Educational Studies, 30 (2), 159-173 doi: 10/1080.0305569032000159804

Ministry of Education and Culture of Republic of Indonesia (2017) Ikhtisar Data Pendidikan Tahun 2016/2017. Retrieved from http://publikasi.data.kemdikbud.go.id/uploadDir/isi_FC1DCA36-A9D8-4688-8E5F-0FB5ED1DE869_.pdf

Smith, K. 2016, Girls may perform better at school than boys but their experience is much less happy. Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/girls-may-perform-better-at-school-than-boys-but-their-experience-is-much-less-happy-63161

The Economist (2013) Why girls do better at school than boys. Retrieved from https://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2015/03/economist-explains-3

Vickers, M (2013) Gender, in Education Change and Society. In Connell, R., Welch, A., Vickers, M., Foley, D., Bagnall, N., Hayes, D., Proctor, H., Sriprakash, A., & Campbell. C., Education, Change and Society (3rd ed) (pp. 160-185). Sydney: Oxford University Press.

Walker, T. (2016) Girls do better than boys at school because they’re morning people, study suggests. Retrieved from https://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/girls-do-better-than-boys-at-school-because-they-re-morning-people-study-suggests-a7181511.html

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