That's how you keep boys on their toes

Girls. Ah yes: diligent girls. We know what to do with that in the classroom. But what do we do with those lively, busy and lagging boys? Former teachers Lauk Woltring and Dick van der Wateren published a book about it entitled 'The development of boys in education'.



  1. Do something

    Boys develop, especially at a young age, by doing things. Woltring: “They start somewhere and see where the ship ends up. They are more focused on performance and less on social contact: "I like it when you like me, but I am now busy building a very high block tower." Incidentally, first the disclaimer, says Van der Wateren: “We generalize here, for the sake of clarity. But all boys are different, and so are all girls. So we are talking about the average group characteristics here. ” Whose deed.

    Anyway: from doing things, from experimenting, from making mistakes and experiencing the consequences, many boys sometimes learn more than from sitting still and listening. Woltring: “Unfortunately, everywhere in our education the emphasis is on cognitive skills. Even in kindergarten. Groups 1 and 2 would remain playful? Forget it. ”

    Therefore: do something, move. Education can be more than sitting and learning. Van der Wateren: “When I was still in the classroom, we devised and carried out physics experiments with the whole class. Everyone enthusiastic, great success. Also with the girls, by the way. ”

  2. Expect to run and stand still

    Boys develop more irregularly than girls. They sometimes make intermediate sprints in one area and then stand still for a while in the other area. It is therefore a pity that the same performance is expected from every student at the same time in the subject matter year class system. “Our education is a system in which students have to jump through key hoops like monkeys,” says Van der Wateren. “But because boys develop more irregularly, they meet the norm less often than girls - or simply refuse to jump on command. And once you as a boy have received the stamp that you are left behind, you cannot just get rid of it. ”

  3. Don't be so linguistic

    Boys often lag behind girls in the development of their language skills. “Education is often linguistic and girls have an advantage in that area,” says Woltring. “Boys can often only express a few emotions: angry, proud and gloomy. Girls have a much larger vocabulary. That does not mean that boys are stupid or have learned less: they just do not know how to formulate it very well. And they will deflect themselves if the teacher approaches or corrects them with many words. ”

  4. Watch your tone

    Many women work in education. And they often suffer from boys' urge to experiment and the short attention span. Van der Wateren: “Girls develop empathy earlier, which gives them more adaptive capacity - they adapt more easily to the teacher. Boys don't, and that's why they are corrected from an early age: "What are you doing there ?!" Then they withdraw and run outside after school: finally free! That does not benefit their education. "

    Therefore: approach boys more positively and use their mobility and the urge to experiment in your teaching. And give boys the option to reset every now and then, to start from scratch in the relationship with the teacher. Woltring: “Boys test how far they can go. And therefore sometimes cross the line. Mention that, but don't keep telling them. Because then it all goes downhill between you. ” New lesson? New round, new opportunities.

  5. Also look through boy behavior

    Woltring: “I had a boy in class who was very difficult. I just started talking to that: What do I have to do to reach you, what do you want from me? He was surprised and told me to just give him a shit every now and then. My question made him feel seen and heard, everyone really wants that. ”

  6. Teach them to plan

    The capacity for self-direction, such as anticipation and planning, starts later in many boys than in girls. Van der Wateren: “Smart guys make it up to 3-HAVO on their intelligence. Then they really have to plan things, and then they go wrong. ” But you can learn to plan. Woltring: “For example, ask your class who dares to take school work home for the next day. As soon as you succeed, see if you can give work for two days. After a while, everyone can plan a week ahead. Don't blame, but challenge. And help a little. ”

  7. Tap into curiosity

    Van der Wateren: "Due to all the emphasis on the test circus, there is often little time in education to connect with the interests of boys." Woltring: “School didn't really interest me in the past. I preferred to make rockets at home, which then exploded in the kitchen - Mother angry, of course. Why can't you do and research that at school? ” “That also applies to girls,” says Van der Wateren. “Boys are often less adjusted than they should be, but girls adapt too much. Challenge them too. ”

  8. Make contact, contact, contact

    Make contact. Who is this boy, what's going on in him? What does he need from me right now? That goes for girls too, of course. But boys are currently doing a little worse in our education, so they need contact even more. “Boys who get disappointed in school, who graduate or drop out, are cat in the cup for right-wing politicians or for the sharks swimming around in the shisha lounge. That's not good for anyone, especially the boys themselves. So keep them focused. ”