The old logic held that teachers were harder on boys and that boys got into trouble a lot more than girls. I ran a weekend retreat recently for middle school girls and they had a different perspective on this issue.
These girls felt like teachers were much harder on the girls because they had much higher expectations for girls academically. Girls saw evidence each day that boys were less motivated in school, less attentive, and goofier than girls and teachers treated the boys accordingly. And these were girls from public and private middle schools.
I get the chance to talk to girls in schools with my Strong Girls Strong World program, in my weekend retreats and in my summer camps. And what they share with me over and over is how much pressure they feel in so many ways.
They feel pressure to have perfect grades, be on the best select club sports teams, be cute and skinny and sexy and attractive to boys, and to be aiming for scholarships to the best colleges. All the while they are challenged with becoming comfortable with their changing bodies and their friendships and their relationships with their parents.
And one result of all this pressure is that girls get overwhelmed with emotions and stress, and too often handle the stress with unhealthy means…ie. cutting, anger, anxiety, and eating disorders.
So, are teachers harder on girls today than boys? I believe the girls I talk with, and sadly I say probably YES. Sadly because we are not giving girls the tools to understand and deal with all these pressures and expectations, nor the tools to handle their emotions in healthy ways.
I feel for girls today, and you should too.