Boys behave differently, have different interests, and, often, have different approaches to learning than girls. While most people intuitively know this is true, schools have struggled to find a formula for nurturing boys’ learning and development in a co-educational environment.
For years, researchers have noted that girls are achieving greater success in the classroom and that boys are lagging behind in many academic and social areas. Recently, studies by noted psychologists such as Michael Thompson, Anthony Rao, and Judy Y. Chu have shown that, from as young as four years old, boys begin to stereotype themselves as learners and conform to gender roles they perceive--and often in a negative way. In co-ed schools, boys begin very early to define themselves as “not girls” and therefore shy away from experiences and opportunities that society’s gender roles define as “girl things”--including being successful in school.
Fessenden is a place where boys can start school on a balanced playing field, in an environment that creates opportunities for them to thrive. All things are possible. Those activities that are often the exclusive domain of girls in co-ed settings become attainable: language arts, music, drawing, performance, academic engagement, and success. Boys at Fessenden begin their educational journey believing that these endeavors are “boy things.”