Writing-Averse Boys: What can Adults Do to Help


A recent national survey in the UK suggests that boys are half as likely to love writing as girls, reported BBC News on Nov. 21. The survey was carried out by the National Literacy Trust and covered 35,000 British pupils aged 8–16. Statistics showed that over 20% of the boys surveyed did not enjoy writing at all, compared with 8.6% of the girls saying so.

One in five boys said they would feel embarrassed if others saw them writing, and one thirds of them never or seldom practiced writing after class. On the contrast, more than one thirds of girls thought writing was cool and were willing to do it every day outside class. The study of spelling and grammar were further considered meaningless by 30% of boys for the reason that it already came to the age of spellchecker. Although boys' and girls' attitudes polarized on the issue of writing, there was one thing that they agreed with in common: over 3/4 of the youngsters surveyed said that writing was more interesting when they could decide on their own what subject to write; but meanwhile half of them admitted that often they could not come up with a topic.

The findings of such survey are not exceptional. Boys tend to prefer math and science while girls are more likely to succeed in literature and language. However, as Julie Gibbings of the National Literacy Trust pointed out, "It is through writing that children learn to formulate thoughts and improve their creativity and thinking skills." Essay writing skill is something that students (regardless of sex) must manage during their school life. Therefore, experts have been finding ways that can help improve boys' interests towards writing.

One suggestion is to let a boy choose a subject he loves. It may be his hobby (for example, football) or something he knows much about. In this way can he be motivated to write and find writing funny. Another suggestion is that the teacher or parents draw pictures of a story line and show the pictures to him to write out the story. Studies have proved that most boys are visual learners, so they may catch the ideas more quickly when they are shown concrete figures. In a traditional class, it may takes the teacher much time and efforts to prepare such pictures, but in online tutoring process, a tutor may take advantage of existing learning resources, or flash or other technologies to create colorful pictures and even vivid cartoons to a male student.

All journalists know that every news story must have at least six fundamental elements: 5 "W"s and an "H". That is, Who, When, What, Where, Why, and How. These must-answered elements will also be an inspiration for a boy who has difficulty writing a reasonable story. Teacher or parents should ask him to think about the character and place of the story before getting started. Furthermore, they may encourage the boy to think over questions "what if…" so as to make the writing process funny.

Writing is not limited to academics or fiction. A script, a report, and even a dish menu are all part of writing. Parents may encourage a boy to write some conversation for a comic, a report on his sport match, and anything that can make him practice writing. More funny practice and appreciative parents and teachers will be the best help for the writing averse.


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