Book Club Project



Book Club Project

Critical Review

The publication ‘Supporting Boys’ Learning’ is a significant asset to most teachers. The authors supply a proper equilibrium of information, studies, and numerous practical guidelines that contribute towards tapping into the potential of boys in the classroom. The book is particularly helpful to instructors who may desire to grow their knowledge and approaches of teaching boys in techniques that capitalize on their positive aspects, value their unique development levels, and follow principles of child development. It is apparent that, in most societies, there are defined roles awarded to boys and girls because of their gender. These gender functions are inflicted on children when they are born and are reinforced until they become second nature. From the toys to the clothing, boys and girls are segregated and handled differently based on their gender. This socialization based on gender responsibilities is further strengthened through family members, the education system and media.

During the mid twentieth century, there was a remarkable change in how society perceived gender roles. This was due to many factors, the most outstanding factor being the influx of women in work settings. The society began perceiving both men and women as being equals. Researchers postulated that this would significantly lower gender role stereotypes within the society. Conversely, there has been an insignificant transformation in adults’ awareness of gender roles when it comes to children. These stereotypes held by teachers and other adults concerning gender roles have an important effect on children. Teachers may unintentionally reward or discipline children based on these stereotypes. Similarly, children also create their own stereotypes based on the opinions observed among teachers within their environment. The issue of boys struggling with their studies and education in general originates from a long line of perceptions, practices and decisions that placed the boy child at a disadvantage.

The drop in gender discrimination, in most modern societies, resulted in boys being neglected or being given little attention. Parents began valuing their daughters’ educational progress in equal degrees to their sons. Institutions of higher learning that had previously focused on wealthy men embraced meritocracy and gender diversity. Four decades ago, when education administrators globally realized that the girl child was lagging behind in science and mathematics, they mounted a serious campaign to rectify the situation that resulted in women empowerment currently being realized. However, when it comes to the boy child, the same interest and effort is minimal.

While the nature of the problem is clearly universal and entrenched strongly in the approaches and perceptions of most people including the boys themselves, several aspects have to be elaborated before any recommendations are adopted. Although the issue is gender in nature, the inner problem lies in the approach of teaching adopted by teachers. Several practices that are implemented unknowingly by teachers have a great effect on the students particularly boys. When a teacher compares boys to girls and refers to girls as being more organized, quick and intelligent, boys gradually believe that teachers signal the existence of superior and consequently, inferior genders. Most researches have previously focused on the gender of preschoolers as being the key issue and ignore other factors that are equally influential such as level of maturity, family background, character and mental complications.

Gender has repeatedly surfaced as a noteworthy factor; other factors also contribute toward establishing performance in education. In fact, the differences that exist among boys are far greater than the disparities between girls and boys. Accordingly, education stakeholders must be cautious and avoid focusing on the gender differences between pupils. Instead, they should distinguish that the success of some approaches in classroom instruction may be connected to gender. With that hindsight, instructors will be better placed to offer suitable and equitable chances for both boys and girls.

The approach mentioned by Froschl and Sprung in their book points towards victimizing as boys being the actual problem. Throughout the education system, whenever the issue of boys underperforming in academic activities or other aspects of social life such as cooperation, communication and making friends, boys are always directly for being ‘boys’. In essence, this perception makes it difficult for the boy child to detach himself from negative attitudes and approaches by the teacher and their peers (Sprung, Froschl & Gropper, 2010).


While the studies and publications done by Sprung and Froschl and other like-minded authors suggest that the boy child, there is sufficient evidence to prove that the reverse is also true. The issue of gender discrimination within the classroom also affects girls, as well. Teachers have a high propensity of favoring boys in the classroom setting when compared to girls. This favoring was inclusive of increased time to assist boys, offering self-esteem advice and constantly giving boys positive reinforcement. For instance, in the typical classroom session, teachers tended to call out boys to answer more questions than girls did. Teachers also reprimanded and placed higher standards on girls as compared to boys. For instance, girls were more likely to be chided for answering without raising their hands while boys were allowed to do so.

These actions by teachers are most likely unintentional. During the frequent interactions between teachers and their students over the course of one day, boys are ingenious in coming up with imaginative and successful methods to attract the teacher’s focus to them. Actions such as boys rapidly and continuously attempting to answer questions or contributing their opinions, waving their hands in an agitated manner, switching their tired raised arms and causing a racket while pleading with teachers to choose them. Conversely, girls may do the same but lower their hands if they fail to be recognized. Therefore, teachers regularly choose boys and cooperate with them more than girls who become more passive and end up being ignored.

Other discrepancies emerge when instructors are eager to use up more time assisting boys to clarify an issue or explain a complexity, whereas the teacher would solve the problem for a girl rather than offer her a thorough clarification. The outcome of this is that autonomy is instilled more effectively in boys but hardly any in girls. Accordingly, nurturing a child’s unique strengths drifts from being an issue of fairness to that of survival. Teachers instinctively make boys the center of the teaching process, offering them more repeated and specific attention. Therefore, increased focus by the teacher consequently leads to better academic performance. Girls cannot compete with this type of behavior exhibited by boys and end up losing out in terms of academic performance.

Summary and Discussion of Introduction, Chapters 1 and 2

The two main authors in the book ‘Supporting boys’ learning: Strategies for teacher practice, pre-K-grade 3’ Barbara Sprung and Merle Froschl have had exceptional track records, several achievements and a wealth of experience in the child education sector. On her part, Barbara Sprung has collected over 39 years of experience in studying and administering childhood education. During this period, she worked mainly as an instructor. She has also innovated several materials and programs to endorse equal opportunities for children to study. She is the co-founder of Educational Equity Concepts, and she holds an M.S. in Child Development. Merle has had about 34 years of experience in education, writing and acts as the co-founder of Educational Equity Concepts.

The book begins with an introduction that informs teachers of the importance of developing gender-sensitive strategies and knowledge. In particular, it introduces significance of the proper approach in teaching boys that will develop their masculinity, strengths and socio-emotional aspect. Published in response to the rising phenomenon of vulnerability among boys as far as social-emotional growth is concerned. The introduction also touches on the issue of focusing on the girl child at the expense of the boy child. While girls were taking up sciences and mathematics, boys were neglected and stigmatized as being ‘stubborn’ or ‘bad’. The purpose of the book was, therefore, to enable teachers and other education stakeholders to better comprehend the needs of boys in the classroom. Additionally, the book also focuses on equality in the provision of education to both boys and girls. The opening pages contain the story of Jared, a first grader whose experience and story are used repetitively throughout the book.

Chapter 1 is aptly titled ‘Critical Issues in the Educational Lives of Boys’, and starts off with a quote from Barbarin and Crawford that mentioned negative criticism as one of the causes of negative behavior among boys in elementary school. Typically, boys are always viewed as being problematic and troublesome especially at the preschool stage. At this stage, boys are expelled from class at a very high rate mainly because of disobedience, loss of concentration or being troublesome. In the course of expulsion, boys are branded as being ‘troublemakers’ and these labels are picked up by other students as being the truth. Therefore, several factors are at play that ensures that boys who misbehave in class get set up to fail in the future. They include disapproval from the teacher, rejection from peers and a lowering in self-esteem. Normally, boys are energetic, but this energy is misconstrued to be mischief and vehemently discouraged in the classroom setting. Sprung, Froschl and Gropper (2010), argue that the high rates of expulsion attest to the fact that boys are not given enough social-emotional attention.

Chapter 2 talks about the sex-role socialization that exists in most schools and perpetuated by teachers. At a tender age, Barbara Sprung and Merle Froschl argue that boys and girls are treated differently, and this has a massive effect on their social-emotional development. However, inconsistencies between the performance of girls and that of boys in elementary school points directly towards an intentional and sometimes unintentional neglect directed at boys in the education system. The gender socialization in the education system affirms girls’ positions and makes them aware of their upper hand when compared to boys. This chapter elaborates how this special preference given to girls has allowed them to be academically successful when compared to boys. The section explained the different ways in which boys and girls are treated differently. In the middle grades, the socialization takes on new forms including being incorporated in the textbooks, the teacher-student interactions and the lesson plans. From the first two chapters, it was evident that the role of the teacher in determining the success of the boy child academically was massive.

Discussion questions, Activities, and Supplementary Resources

Naturally, teachers and caregivers are not ready to assist boys to grasp the skills necessary to grow into normal and upright member of the community. Therefore, any errant behavior such as explosions of anger, lack of impulse control and rudeness are immediately punished. This chapter proposed relational teaching as one of the methods through which teaching skills can be shaped to suit the boy child. The principle behind relational teaching is that teachers cease from evaluating boys and instead attempt to describe them and their relationships. In this way, both boys and the teacher can have an opportunity to perceive each other in a different light. The absences of relational teaching makes boys learn how to mask their feelings or shape them to fit stereotypical expectation, even though they are quite capable of forming relational attachments. The chapter also contained literacy disparities between boys and girls. From preschool up to high school, boys showed a decreasing ability to perform well in writing and reading exercises. According to Froschl and Sprung, this gender gap was perpetrated by the unequal socialization that prevented boys from properly developing their cognitive skills.


Selecting the suitable classroom resources that will attract and work for boys is a cost effective solution. At first sight, boys may seem like they do not like to learn. However, offering a resourceful and diverse mix of materials and being aware of boys’ learning inclinations can significantly contribute towards developing an appealing and alluring learning environment for boys. For instance, boys prefer materials that reflect their ambitions, material that amuse them and other resources that have aspects of science or science fiction in them. Promoting a reading culture among boys can also have a positive effect in changing their attitudes towards school, books and learning. Boys should be encouraged to love their subject books and other literature. Providing opportunities for boys to read interesting books openly in class may trigger a passion for studying.


Sprung, B., Froschl, M., & Gropper, N. (2010). Supporting boys’ learning: Strategies for teacher practice, pre-K-grade 3. New York: Teachers College Press.


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