SUMMARY: Maggie Dent and teaching boys


Are boys and girls different?
Should we be teaching them differently?

Maggie Dent, author, educator, and parenting and resilience specialist with a particular interest in the early years and adolescence, believes that boys and girls are different enough that teachers should be planning for this. Maggie gives a seminar entitled ‘Boys, boys, boys’ to help parents and teachers to understand why boys are struggling in education and how we can better support them. She goes through neurological research to show how boys are different to girls, and that it starts with their brains even before birth. Boys then continue to develop differently to girls, with boys developing the right side of their brain first whilst girls develop both their left and right side at the same time.

Maggie details with snippets of experiences how boys like to learn. They don’t read instructions or want to know the rules of games first, they just want to make, or play and work it out. She suggests that we as parents and teachers need to be champions and understand that boys are warriors. They need to play, to be risk-takers, to explore, to have quiet moments to  then regroup, to laugh and make light of situations rather than being nagged, they need to know that you feel they matter, to feel connected, to be safe, to be able to communicate through their behaviour and actions, to spend time in nature, to learn in short bursts with activities to discharge excess energy, to work in teams to know that they can belong, to know that you love them.

Boys are warriors. Our classes, curriculum, school environment’s, homes and play need to take this into account to help them to learn, grow and develop.

“Happy, calm children learn best” 

– Daniel Goleman

Maggie suggests that to help support boys best, we should:

* focus on their strengths, not their negatives

* remember how they learn best (nothing can replace play for boys)

* honour their inner warrior

* help them to overcome their mistakes and confusions

* show them that you care – no matter what they do

* lighten up! (helps to create positive amines such as endorphins, in the brain, and dilute negative amines such as cortisol and adrenaline that can lead to aggression)

* teach them how to be a good man

Some of our national and school curricula do not take these fundamental differences between boys and girls into account, so it is no wonder that boys seem to be struggling. How can we change this? Who should change this? How can you change this?

Maggie Dent’s handout for ‘Understanding, nurturing and connecting with today’s boys’: Maggie Dent – boys boys boys


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