Crisis in Educating Boys Needs Special Approaches, Says Academy Board Leader

All boys schools

CARLSBAD, Calif. – The present way all but a few public and private schools are educating our nation’s boys is every bit as dangerous and even fatal to boys receiving a proper education as cancer is to the human body, according to a trustee board leader at an all-boys military boarding school here.

“Boys are not receiving a proper education in co-educational ‘one-size-fits-all’ settings that respond better to the needs and learning characteristics girls have,” said Newport Beach attorney and business owner Barry Shreiar who chairs the Board of Trustees at the Army and Navy Academy. “Scientific research clearly shows boys need different learning environments where their differences can be taken into account.”

The parent of a 2014 academy graduate, Shreiar has researched and written an extensive analysis of the educational benefits of a single-gender education, tailored for middle- and high-school age boys in a structured setting.

Shreiar said studies have shown that eight out of 10 discipline problems in most schools are caused by boys; seven out of 10 students with learning disabilities are boys; male students earn 70 percent of the below-average and failing grades in high schools and that eight out of 10 high school dropouts are boys.

“Left unchanged, these numbers will have a fatal impact on tens of millions of boys receiving a proper education,” Shreiar said.

Citing research findings on the human brain, Shreiar said boys have larger areas of the brain to process fear and anger, often causing them to be more aggressive than girls. They also tend to thrive more so than girls in competitive settings.  Boys also tend more to mechanical and structured thinking than girls.

Further studies cited by Shreiar show boys tend to thrive in structured and uniform environments where codes of conduct and expectations are in place and consistently applied.  The military academy his son attended and where he serves as a trustee provides a military setting in which leadership and character development traits, including teamwork, respect for others, competition, advancement, and other attributes are taught in a boarding school environment where “growth moments” occur beyond normal school hours.

“The need to structure learning environments for boys extends beyond academics and teaching practices in the classroom to learning other life skills and living in a boarding school environment where ‘growth moments’ often occur beyond the normal school day,” Shreiar said.

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Founded in 1910, the Army and Navy Academy is a private not-for-profit Gurian Model School that provides a college preparatory curriculum alongside a leadership and character development program for young men, grades 7-12.  It is the only private boarding school in San Diego County and the only military academy for high school-age students in California and surrounding states. The academy’s mission is “to educate, mentor and develop leadership and good character in young men.”