The Trouble with Boys Chapter 5: Notes from the Front; Fixing the School, Not the Boy

What do you think of Horn’s philosophy?

How did you react when you read that all 50 of her referrals had been boys?

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I think Horn's philosophy is much like the question- -which came first the chicken or the egg? Do we need to fix the environment or try to "fix the boy?" (her expression- -not mine.) I think the answer is maybe a little bit of both. While I think we do need to provide more movement opportunities and plenty of engagement lessons, boys still cannot haul off and hit or kick someone. She might say that they would not have done it in the first place if they wer not so frustrated and overwhelmed. this brings me back to something that I said in a earlier post, maybe we are expecting too much from children at such a early age (which would mean to fix the environment). We do need to provide plenty of movement breaks and hands on activities and to teach boys an emotional vocabulary and the openness to communicate and express their feelings.
I support Susan Horn's philosophy that classrooms need to be boy friendly. I agree that safety is always a priority, however, some classrooms are designed and created to be very structured academically and socially. Some rooms may be extremely restrictive to boys' needs. Boys do need room to explore, create and , within reason, be physically active. As a mother of a son and a grandparent of a grandson, I know that boys in general have a difficult time waiting for someone or something. Many boys want to get to the task at hand quickly and then move on. As adults we can all relate to the times when we were on the other side of the desk waiting for the professor to move on in a lesson. We felt impatient and distracted. Hopefully these flashbacks will help us to understand and sympathize with our boys' needs in the classroom. As Susan Horn commented- give our boys some extra space and time to keep them motivated and involved in learning.
I think Horn is right on. The fact that all 50 of her referrals were boys isn't incredible, but I guess that's because they were the blatant "problems." Age appropriate settings are needed, as I know girls need to move around too. I love her ideas, but know that classrooms have limited space.
I think a huge part of the problem is pretty apparent, when on the second page of the chapter Horn went to the PRESCHOOL to observe the boy in question and... "THE TWENTY-FOUR OR SO CHILDREN" !!!!

Are you kidding me? Twenty-four kids in a preschool class?? No wonder the boy was having a hard time. First, there will not be enough space in the room to allow children a personal place of their own and our youngest learners need to learn about boundaries by being able to create personal space. Secondly, the noise and activity level will be overwhelming for all the children. It will overwhelm the quiet children (yes, we also have quiet and timid boys) and amp up the active children prone to excitement. Thirdly, how can we expect that teacher to handle 24 four year olds with five minute attention spans alone? Of course she has some kids waiting by the door ( she is probably tying 4 pairs of shoes, helping put on coats and also zipper them, some are needing to go to the bathroom and needing buttons unsnapped, she is comforting others crying because someone got in front of her in line.. etc, etc, etc..

Until you've done it alone with 24, 4 and 5 year olds alone (been there, done that) you just couldn’t imagine. It's hard. I don't care how many adults you put in a room with that many children… It won't work. There is a reason early childhood classrooms need to be capped at a certain size and research has proved this to be true. Small class sizes work, especially for the boys who need more space for playing/learning/ movement and for teachers to be able to meet the needs of all the children.
It's too bad Governor Christie and Brett Shundler aren't members of 2.0. The state needs to get spending under control, but what will be the true cost? Thank you for reminding us about the developmental appropriateness of class size.

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