Helping boys learn

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In the foreword of the book “Helping Boys Learn, 6 Secrets for Success in School” by Edmond J. Dixon, it is written “If you are a parent reading this book, you are committed to helping your child become a happy and successful learner and are willing to partner with the school to make that happen. If you are a teacher, you care about personal growth and excellence in the classroom. You know your curriculum and probably already have a bag of ‘tricks’ to help foster learning among your students. Most important, you are always on the lookout for ways that can help you improve your own skills to help students develop confidence and independence.”

The book “Helping Boys Learn” is a very significant resource for parents and teachers alike. The school board, through senior administration, has purchased this book for many of our teachers and are working on helping boys learn.

There is another quote related to girls and boys in the introduction that might offer insight into the challenges faced by teachers.

“Girls natural brain wiring ideally suits them to the challenges of an information-filled, collaborative, and post-modern society and places them in a learning “sweet spot” for our age. Supported by the policies that were put in place to help them succeed at school in the 1990s, they are more successful in school at every level. We will see females progressively mirroring this success in the 21st century workplace, breaking any and all barriers left in the glass ceiling. This is an obvious boon to them and to society. On the other hand, the fact that many boys fall behind in school and fail to complete education at the higher levels required for effective future employment means that they will be increasingly at a disadvantage to contribute meaningfully to society.”

So what approach is needed to help boys learn? Dr. Dixon offers six pathways to learning that have proven ability to help boys succeed. The six secrets are:

  • Secret 1 – Boys learn where the action is. (Movement)
  • Secret 2 – Boys learn in the game. (Game)
  • Secret 3 – Boys learn with laughter. (Humour)
  • Secret 4 – Boys learn through challenge. (Challenge)
  • Secret 5 – Boys learn by Mastery. (Mastery)
  • Secret 6 – Boys learn by Meaning. (Meaning)

With two daughters and two grandsons, I have seen how education for girls has improved. I have also seen the difference in how boys learn versus girls. This book will remind us all of the differences and I encourage all parents to read “Helping Boys Learn.” It is an eye opener for parents and teachers alike. Parents might even ask their elementary school teacher if they can borrow their copy of the book for a weekend. It makes great reading and I guarantee it will help all parents better understand how boys learn.


An education advocate, Ron Marks has been an outspoken member of local and regional school boards and a former Stellarton mayor. His column runs weekly.

Geographic location: Stellarton

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