National Post

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Thursday, October 14, 1999

Boys trail girls in language skills, see them as 'girly' things
Campbell Clark
National Post

MONTREAL - Concluding that boys trail girls in school in part because boys tend to think learning language skills is a feminine activity, an education advisory board in Quebec yesterday proposed training teachers and parents on how sex roles affect the schooling of children.

Quebec's Superior Council on Education, a government-appointed body that advises the education minister, also found that educators are more likely to label young boys as suffering from behavioural problems, because they tend to be more disruptive.

In a 100-page report on the effects of sex roles on education, the council proposed making more allowances for different rates and styles of learning -- suggesting that too many boys are being left back in Grades 1 to 3, in what can prove an important blow to their self-image. The council also suggested that new learning tools -- like more focus on the Internet or computer learning -- might prove better at making boys want to learn language.

"The goal is not to deny differences between girls and boys, and take them into account," said Celine Lepine, the council's president.

Language skills seem to be an Achilles heel for boys. Boys rate equally with girls in all academic subjects except language -- apparently because they think reading, writing, and speaking well, are "girly'' things, the council found.

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