Why a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t get the best out of boys

Mr Terence Ayres, Headmaster at Thorpe House School in Gerrards Cross….

As teaching professionals it is important to select the approach which is best suited to the skills we are attempting to develop, rather than feel constrained to one teaching approach. Thorpe House is a school for boys and the teachers are skilled at putting differentiated scaffolds in place so each boy, no matter what their ability in the classroom, can achieve the lesson objectives and develop their learning skills. Throughout their younger years and during adolescence, pupil-centred learning is essential to engage pupils with learning and support them in developing the confidence they need to make good progress no matter what their ability level. As the pupils get older and move into studying the ever more demanding GCSEs, the need for teachers to employ an individually tailored programme of study becomes even more crucial if pupils are going to achieve the highest grades they are capable of.

The difference between the way boys and girls learn is well documented, for example:

Boys learn more easily through movement and visual experience which means that to get the best from boys, learning needs to be interactive and participative rather than passive and instruction based.

Girls are generally able to sit and concentrate for longer periods of time and are a lot less likely to get bored and ‘Zone-out’. In general boys need to be taught in short bursts and not be subjected to long periods of having to sit and listen.

In general boys learn better when they are given a purpose for their learning and feel it is relevant to their everyday life whereas, in general, girls see learning as intrinsically valuable.

But at Thorpe House, we take all this into account and tailor our teaching not only to way in which boys learn, but also to the way in which individual pupils learn. There’s no such thing as a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach at Thorpe.

How do we tailor our learning?