The genderation gap – Toronto Schools plan calls for boys-only classes
Canada’s largest school board is poised to go boy-crazy, with boys-only classes, “boy-friendly” instruction and an all-boys grade school among ways the new director hopes to help young males do better in school.
In a sweeping blueprint unveiled Tuesday on everything from closing schools to curbing violence and hiring a marketing whiz to drum up more students, Toronto District School Board director Chris Spence is urging the board to make boys a priority and work to boost their skills and lower their dropout rate.
“The last thing I want to do is demonize our boys, but all around we see great concerns about their learning,” he said, citing lower test scores than girls and more acting out, so to level the playing field for boys “might require differentiated treatment.”
In “A Vision Of Hope!” – an ambitious report based on 200 meetings with staff and community members – Spence is calling for more single-sex classes, programs and even schools.
Next September, he wants the board to open a Male Leadership Academy for boys from kindergarten to Grade 3 as a sort of alternative school or “school of choice,” and add a grade each year, with many if not all teachers being male. Moreover, he wants to launch 300 “demonstration classrooms” across the city to showcase the best ways of teaching, including classrooms he calls “boy-friendly.”
“Boys thrive in environments that are hands-on and where there is opportunity to move around,” he said, citing portable desks that let children be more mobile, and clipboards rather than notebooks so students feel less tied to a desk.
“When every bone in a boy’s body says, ‘Move!’ we’re usually saying, ‘Sit down.’ ”
The focus on boys comes as little surprise from this former CFL player who has made mentoring boys a trademark of his career as he moved from teacher to director of the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, where he was when Toronto hired him this spring after a year-long search.
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