Standing in front of my class of 11- year- old children, I ask for volunteers to come to the front and read out their work.

Several hands shoot up and I say: ‘Come on then, Annie. After you, we’ll have Liz and then Becky.’ I smile encouragingly at the children and they grin back, proud to be chosen to read.

You might think there’s nothing wrong with this scenario, but it happened at a co-educational, not a girls’ school. Not a single boy was chosen to read out of my class of 28 pupils simply because not a single boy volunteered.

And it’s not just reading aloud boys show little enthusiasm for – they don’t like to put themselves forward in any subject. In fact, it’s my view that boys have been disenfranchised from education. By secondary school (the age group I teach), I would say the vast majority of them have lost interest all together.

By the time they reach 11 or 12, the idea that they aren’t as good as girls has been reinforced – and the result is lack of confidence and, quite often, a retreat into bad behaviour.

In a study presented this week at the British Educational Research association annual conference, researchers demonstrated that girls as young as four believe they are cleverer, try harder and are better behaved than boys of the same age.

Hartley, the study’s leader, said: ‘By seven or eight, children of both genders believe boys are less focused, able and successful than girls.’

But who is to blame for this? according to the research, the answer is female teachers.

Admittedly, it focuses on primary school children and 90 per cent of their teachers are female, but we do tend to castigate boys for being ‘silly’ and for not ‘sitting nicely’ like girls. We tell them off for wanting to play with inappropriate toys like guns, rather than showing them how to play responsibly in a boyish way.

Boys in their early teens like to run about and play-fight. On duty in the playground, I’ve often shouted at boys to ‘Stop running!’ Once – to my shame – I even yelled: ‘Stop kicking that ball so hard. Can’t you just throw it nicely?’

I was met with puzzled frowns. ‘What, like in netball, miss?’ asked young Simon, with a perfectly straight face.

Is it because I’m a female teacher that I treat the boys like this? It’s true that boys’ schools are more likely to encourage male behaviour  – healthy competitiveness is encouraged and sports have a higher profile and I hate to say it, but I believe it’s because there tend to be more male teachers and consequently a more male ethos in these establishments.

And yet my gender cannot shoulder full responsibility – changes within society are the root cause. These days we live in a culture that is risk averse. I tell boys off for running because what if a running child trips and falls? I might have some questions to answer.

A parent might try to sue us. Far better to try to insist that boys ‘calm down’ and ‘sit still’ – behave more like girls in other words.

Of course, there’s more to it than that. Our society teaches that the traditionally masculine roles of father, breadwinner and protector are outdated and sexist.

Spiralling numbers of children are being brought up without fathers. Without any positive male role models in their lives, it’s no coincidence vast swathes of young men are unemployable. Thousands of boys leave education every year without a single qualification, content to spend their lives on benefits.

In 2009, 50 per cent of girls went into higher education; only 38 per cent of boys did.

<But what worries me most is the recent suggestion that the medical condition attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is an example of excitable behaviour typically associated with boys.

In a culture that no longer tolerates masculinity, excessive boyishness may have been turned into an illness. ADHD is diagnosed in nine times as many boys as girls, and there were 461,000 prescriptions written out for Ritalin, the drug used to treat it, in 2007.

There is no blood test for ADHD – it’s diagnosed through a checklist of symptoms such as fidgeting, an inability to concentrate and running around.

But it’s not just as a teacher I’ve witnessed the suppression of masculine attributes. I only have to look at the books my four-year-old daughter reads to see it’s a message fed to children from a very young age.

There’s Charlie & Lola, the hugely popular series by Lauren Child. Personally, I was dismayed. Lola is a spoilt diva who bosses her wimpy older brother Charlie about.

Charlie’s role in these stories is to patiently explain to Lola why she must eat her peas or why she shouldn’t insist that all his friends eat pink fairy cakes at his birthday party.

Postman Pat, Percy The Park Keeper – they might be men, but they lack any defining male characteristics. These characters are asexual and frankly dull. Percy potters about in his shed, park or kitchen. No catching spies, cracking codes or submarine adventures for these two. They are uninspiring and insipid.

Traditionally male characteristics such as strength, competitiveness and authority are invisible in modern children’s literature because they are not valued in our society.

And I for one don’t want my daughter growing up in a society which tells her she’s in charge because she’s a girl. I don’t want my four-year-old to grow up in a culture that diminishes men and boys.

Crucially, I want her to go to a school that promotes equality and allows for difference.

It’s time to stop the senseless castigation and denigration of boys. Ultimately, it harms us all.

BE YOUR CHILD’S FIRST MATH TEACHER! – Teach Your Child to Count to 10 – Early Learning Method

Source: Daily Mail –