How boys can take advantage

30th May 1997 at 01:00
That Sheffield old boy, Ted Wragg, has shown in his recent article entitled "Oh boy" (TES2, May 16) that boys are somewhat slower on the uptake than girls from the same area.

This Sheffield old girl has been researching and writing about boys' disadvantage in the reading curriculum since 1990, as have other women in the field, including Myra Barrs and Sue Pidgeon (Reading the Difference, London, Centre for Language in Primary Education) and Joan Swann (Girls, boys and language, Oxford, Blackwell). Indeed, my latest book, Differently Literate (London, Falmer Press) outlines many of the problems which Ted has recently come across in the course of his own research. My recommendations, developed through consultative work with schools and a National Association of Teachers of English education in-service training course on boys' literacy, and co-ordinated through action research in-service education and training projects with teachers, have also been widely disseminated by the National Literacy Trust.

Of course, as Ted has also found during his own research, boys are reluctant to read very much and much slower in finishing books. Perhaps this is why he has presented his belated discovery as a new one? For me, the good news is that once both old and new boys have come to recognise they have a problem it will be easier to discuss it openly in schools and provide suitable measures sensibly. The recurrent bad news, however, is that whenever boys do finally understand something, they very often claim the insight as their own and act as if they are the authority. Nice one, Ted.

DR ELAINE MILLARD

Division of education

Sheffield University

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