The boys are putting out signals

22nd September 2000 at 01:00
Anne Tyler (Letters, TES, September 8) has got it all back to front. It isn't boys' disruptive behaviour which is wrong, but the design of the school system. Is it necessarily a good thing that girls are so passive within the education system that they will perform boring tasks well below their ability level without complaint?

I have been educating my sons at home since both became unhappy at school. They were not disruptive, but were schooled with children, mainly boys, who were.

Perhaps the reason that so many boys are disruptive at school, and young men offend, is because they have been forced to be square pegs in round holes for much of their school careers. They are literally set up to fail in a system which requires conformity before all else.Shouldn't schools be looking to design ways of harnessing that energy in activity, rather than ways of punishing it?

As you report in your briefing pages, in the same issue, boys are turned off by passive literacy and numeracy hours - and so one can expect increasing amounts of "disruption".

I think that teachers need to be shaken out of a conventional approach to education, to think laterally and look at the problems and challenges from every angle. To do this, you musn't start by assuming that good behaviour in class is always the most desirable outcome.

Bad behaviour is also communication - and boy, they're sending some pretty powerful messages. Are you listening?

Fiona Clarke

11 Fairfield Road,

Uxbridge, Middlesex

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