Classroom by Charles Wiriawan CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

There are certain things about boys in relation to girls that I always assumed to be true. Boys eat more. Boys get into more fights. Boys drive more recklessly. And boys don’t do as well in school.

While the first three of these claims can probably be validated by your own personal experience, the last claim has been the focus of many studies concerning equally in America’s educational institutions. As children, males and females learn and develop in different ways and at different rates than the opposite gender. Research shows that boys’ struggle begins in kindergarten when children start learning to read anything – numbers, letters, etc. Literacy at that age requires certain skills, such as prolonged attention and focus, so while girls are already in the process of developing, the boys haven’t even started yet.

This difference can set boys behind for much of their lives – not only do they start learning later, but their inability to perform as well as females locks them in the mindset that they just aren’t as capable as females in this area, and their morale and ambition taper out over time. “According to Gurian, boys learn by doing and by moving their bodies through space. The more emphasis is placed on the development of early reading skills, and the less emphasis is placed on a healthy amount of movement and experiential learning, the more disadvantageous our schools will be for males.”

So why doesn’t our school systems reflect these changes?

I believe we have a moral obligation to remedy this difference because it is not fair for children to fall behind immediately and struggle for the rest of their academic lives (by no fault of their own). Also, the notion of doing more activities outside is beneficial to all. Outdoor learning teaches critical thinking and problem solving, as well as listening, self-awareness, and respect for one’s surroundings. This discussion reminds me of a quote by Albert Einstein: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” Our traditional school system is assessing boys’ ability to participate in an activity that is more geared towards the female student. Rather, we should place boys in an environment that is most conducive to their style of learning.