Source: The Mercury, 21 April, 1997, p.7


Teen boys forget whatever it was

By FRANK ZELLER 
in London 
 
TEENAGE girls can concen- 
trate more than three times 
longer than boys, according to a 
new study on academic per- 
formance in British high 
schools. 
 
While the average boy will 
become distracted from an in- 
dependent task after only four 
minutes, girls have an atten- 
tion span of 13 minutes, re- 
searchers have found. 
 
The nine-minute gap helps 
explain why girls now out- 
perform boys in virtually all 
high school examinations in 
Britain. 
 
The researchers found that 
most girls happily worked on 
their own when asked to do so 
by their teachers, while boys 
tended to become distracted 
within minutes. 
 
But boys achieved much bet- 
ter results where the teacher 
took a leading role and actively 
involved them in the learning 
process, according to the book 
to be published in the United 
Kingdom this week, Can Boys 
Do Better? 
 
One of the authors, former 
headmaster Peter Downes 
warned the decline in male 
academic performance had to 
be halted with a new approach 
to teaching. 
 
"Everybody has come to 
terms with the fact that boys 
are doing less well than they 
should," he said. 
 
"If we pretend the problem is 
not there, we are in danger of 
producing generations of dis- 
affected young males for whom 
the education process is 
debilitating." 
 
A changing job market was 
increasingly challenging boys 
to learn "feminine skills" as 
traditional manual jobs were 
replaced by more technology. 
 
"The need for men to be 
strong and physical - the 
hunter and provider - is 
greatly reduced," Mr Downes 
said. 
 
"Although the male still has 
his biological function, we have 
got to feminise the male, in a 
way, to give him a new role in 
the world of the future."


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