The Problem With Boys: We Help Provide “Missions”

By General Education Advice

I wrote Motive Your Son a decade ago.  I had created The Learning Consultants and its Student Mastery Program with the goal of training students in our Shoreline, CT area on how to be good students.  I soon discovered that a disproportionate amount of motivational work within the Student Mastery framework was with boys.  To be clear, I (and The Learning Consultants) work with more girls than boys.  This is often due to the seeming irony that girls do better in school because they care more about school.  Since they care more about school, they are far more likely to request tutoring and far less likely to resist tutoring than boys.  For that reason, our individual tutoring tilts distinctly towards girls in terms of the number of hours spent with clients.

Since I wrote the book, motivational problems with boys have only increased.  There are many theories regarding why but I will give an overarching one: more boys seem to need “missions” more than more girls.  More specifically, more boys than girls (in my experience and let me add that all of what I say should be qualified with “in my experience”) need to know what the tangible result of their efforts will bring.  Whereas more girls than boys seem to want to do well in school for the sake of doing well (and presumably feeling good about it), more boys than girls want to know what doing well in school will bring them.

My largest successes have been in the context of taking seemingly unmotivated boys and connecting the dots between doing well now and what doing well now will bring in the future.  For many, there is a need for college and career discussion at far earlier ages than with girls and for many, there is a greater need to provide reinforcement on these issues.  Since writing the book, I have worked with several hundred more boys/young men who are struggling through high school (and college/early career).    Unfortunately, the issues that have created the challenges for boys in the academic-work world have only increased.  We can help.