Girls outnumber boys in end-of-year awards
I have spent most of the past two weeks in our schools, attending end-of-year presentation days. It is a superb time to be in our schools. There is so much pride and excitement about the year that has been completed and the holiday season ahead. Students take their place on stage to receive their various awards, from sport through to citizenship and of course the academics, while parents snap the shutter on their various cameras and the school community at large sing school songs and wish one another a safe and merry Christmas.
As has been my experience in recent years, at most schools, girl after girl after girl has the opportunity to walk across that stage and be recognised for their wonderful work, their efforts and their successes. Occasionally a boy will join the throng. At some schools there were eight girls receiving awards, for every two boys. Indeed, almost every “top-of-class” academic award went to our female students this year while the boys, on almost every occasion, had their success in math and sport. This is all obviously a sign that the decades of work to ensure that girls have just as much opportunity as boys, in the classroom, has been a wonderful success. But where have all the boys gone.
So I pose these two questions: is it time to target some boy-focused strategies for teaching and learning; and, do we need to have “targets” for awards to ensure balance? If we don’t ask these questions we might end up with a generation of boys lost to education. As one young lad said to me after his school presentation day: “the awards are for the girls”. That simple comment should alarm all of us.
Our wonderful teachers
At the school presentation days, I was also struck by the extra, additional, optional and volunteered efforts of our teaching staff. You see in the world of teaching, our teachers choose to do extra work for the “company” free of charge and for no self-gain. Imagine if you can, your own workplace where the needs of the company and your customers might mean that you come to work early to help someone who couldn’t quite understand their work; or that you spent weekends doing the extra little bits and pieces that the company needed so that things would be ready for Monday; or that you spend your own money so that you have the resources that you need to do your job; all at no expense or cost to the company.
In our schools, sporting teams and choirs and excursions don’t take place unless a teacher volunteers to give up their own time and to take on extra work, all for no bonus or additional pay. In our schools, teachers are asked to do 55 hours per week of work, when their actual employment conditions limit their work to 38 hours and everyone just turns a blind eye. Who does this in their own workplace? Who works their normal shift/roster and then “gives” to the company an extra 50 per cent more for no extra pay and no complaints to the company? Who goes to work and says “boss, I know we are already going above and beyond, but I was thinking of some other extra stuff we can do, at no cost to you or the company”? Thank you teachers.
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