Girls win honours, boys wear dunce cap

Peter Vogel (
Sat, 09 Jan 1999 11:51:05 +1100

Girls win honours, boys wear dunce cap
The Australian 9 Jan 1999

  By MADELEINE COOREY Schools reporter

  GIRLS have performed better than boys in Year 12 examinations around
  the country, prompting concerns that a "culture of defeat" is
  preventing boys from scoring higher marks in schools.

  Results from Year 12 tests in NSW, Queensland, Victoria and South
  Australia show that girls are dominating the honours lists and boys are
  over-represented in the ranks of the lowest scorers.

  Queensland Education Minister Dean Wells said yesterday the poor
  performance of boys was a matter of national concern and would be
  raised at the next meeting of federal, State and Territory education
  ministers in April.

  "The problem is distributed right across the school system," Mr Wells

  While the trend had been identified several years ago, it had worsened
  this year, he said.

  Mr Wells said results from the Queensland Year 12 ranking of students
  indicated that while boys were well represented in the very top
  achieving ranks, girls dominated the top to middle ranks and boys were
  more likely to be at the bottom end than girls.

  "There's a culture of defeat among boys and we need to turn that
  around," he said.

  "We are wasting a tremendous amount of human potential."

  Mr Wells has established a strategy group to develop a discussion
  paper, which will be presented at the ministerial meeting.

  His concerns are backed up by Australian Secondary Schools
  Association president Karyn Hart, who agreed that the poor
  performance of boys was a "major concern".

  Ms Hart said one of the main disincentives for boys in school was that
  "it's not cool to do well".

  "I think we need to look at what's happening in society today to make
  young men think that mediocrity is all right," she said.

  But senior academic at the University of Technology, Sydney's
  humanities and social science faculty, Eva Cox, said there was little
  cause for concern because high scores in Year 12 exams did not
  correlate with success in later life.

  "I am not unduly worried about the results of the HSC (NSW Higher
  Schools Certificate) because they are not good predictors of whether
  we do well in the jobs market," she said.

  Strategies should be introduced to encourage boys to take school more
  seriously and "get rid of the culture of masculinity that being smart is
  not good", Ms Cox said.

  According to research fellow at Monash University, Ian Macdonald, girls
  were able to perform better at school because they were better at
  conforming to rules.

  And with the introduction of stricter regulations on Year 12 exams,
  boys were faring worse in the results, he said.

  This year, 4389 girls made the NSW honours list of 7690 names
  compared with 3301 boys. In 1998, the gap was smaller, with 4371
  female students mentioned compared with 3641 boys.

  In South Australia, almost double the number of girls made it into the
  Year 12 honours list, with 680 girls mentioned in comparison with 375

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