• Sweden's news in English
 
app_header_v3

'Sweden is letting its school boys down'

TT/Ann Törnkvist · 4 Dec 2013, 13:19

Published: 04 Dec 2013 13:19 GMT+01:00

"We're seeing a societal betrayal of boys," Swedish brain researcher Martin Ingvar told the TT news agency on Wednesday.

While Swedish boys and girls scored roughly the same in the latest Pisa ranking for maths, girls have now sped past the boys in natural sciences. Girls also continue to outperform boys in reading, and the gap between the two genders has widened since the Pisa review published in the year 2000. 

"All school systems that perform badly punish pupils who have the hardest time," Ingvar said. "The Swedish school is organized for pupil-led learning, (which benefits) high-performing middle-class girls." 

Education Minister Jan Björklund touched on the difference between girls' and boys' maturity levels as he met the press on Tuesday following the unveiling of the OECD's latest Pisa report. He said that boys were often less mature than girls, who had an advantage when it came to independent study. Brain scientist Ingvar agreed, claiming that boys trail girls in maturity by up to one year. 

The average gap between boys and girls among OECD countries was 38 points in the Pisa test which looks at 15-year-olds across several countries. In Sweden, this figure widened to 51 points. And while boys generally outperformed girls in maths and natural sciences in the OECD nations, the trend was inverse in Sweden. 

"It is important to remember that there is nothing wrong with the children, the fault lies with the grown ups," brain researcher Ingvar said.

He took a different view on issuing grades to younger pupils than the government, which has touted grades in third grade as one of the cornerstones of a wide-range of education reforms launched two years ago. Instead, Ingvar argued, it was important for teachers to make the boys understand the importance of education. 

"Grades are trivial compared to feedback in the classroom," he said. 

Girls' ability to dedicate themselves to their studies without adult input was also noted in a 2010 report entitled "Gender difference in school performance". 

University West professor Inga Wernersson said the girls not only spend more time on their studies than boys, but do so "more systematically and more effectively". 

"Those who belong to the smarter group can't pretend they need to make an effort," she commented on the boys' behaviour. "Girls have no reason to assume that they'd get good results without putting the effort in." 

Story continues below…

Education officials said they were nonplussed when it came to explaining the gap.

"We don't really have a good explanation," said Anita Wester, spokeswoman at the Swedish National Agency for Education (Skolverket). 

The latest edition of the Pisa test for the first time included digital tests for the maths and reading components. The boys got better results in the digital rather than the analog exams.

"In 2015, the entire test will be digital for those countries that have access to the technology," Wester noted. "It will be interesting to see what effect that has on the results." 

TT/Ann Törnkvist (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Opinion
Sweden bad, Norway good, Trump better? I'm confused
Photo: Jon Olav Nesvold/NTB scanpix/TT & Kristin Streff/AP/TT

Sweden is neither a socialist paradise nor an internationalist hell. The truth, argues The Local's reporter Lee Roden, lies somewhere in the middle.

Sweden loses fastest internet crown
Good luck untangling those. Photo: Magnus Hjalmarson Neideman /SvD /TT

Worse still, the new European king is Norway.

Where to see the Northern Lights in Sweden tonight
The Northern Lights pictured in Sweden on Wednesday night. Photo: Norrsken Sverige

An unusually high level of solar activity means the spectacle could be visible from rare spots in the country.

The Local List
These are the brands Swedes love the most
What brands do the Swedes love the most? Photo: Per Groth/Magnus Hjalmarson Neideman/SvD/Pontus Lundahl/TT

Revealed: Swedes' top-20 favourite brands.

Spotify launches new karaoke style streaming in Japan
Can karaoke help Spotify to crack Japan? Photo: DocChewbacca/Flickr creative commons

The Swedish streaming giant has taken inspiration from Japan's love of karaoke with its launch in the country.

US rappers' gig ends in 'bloodbath' in Stockholm
US rapper Ghostface Killah. Photo: Scott Roth/Invision/AP

A man ran onto the stage during a concert by US rappers Ghostface Killah and Killah Priest in Stockholm.

Border checks
Could Sweden's border controls soon be lifted?
The border control at the Swedish side of the Öresund Bridge to Denmark. Photo: Emil Langvad/TT

The EU-approved six-month extension of controls in the south of the country will soon come to an end.

'Homemade bomb' on bus in Sweden was bike helmet
File photo of a Swedish police officer. Photo: Maja Suslin/TT

A bicycle helmet sparked a bomb scare on a bus in Uppsala.

What's on in Sweden
Four don't-miss festivals in Sweden this week
Stockholm Beer and Whisky Festival. Photo: Stockholm Öl & Vin AB

Arab cinema, Gay Pride, out-of-the-box art, whisky and craft beer – what more could a person in Sweden possibly need?

Sweden advised to bring conscription back in 2018
Bringing back the draft could help a stretched military, a government inquiry says. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Young men and women could be made to fill in questionnaires for recruitment to the Armed Forces as early as next year, according to a new proposal.

Sponsored Article
Expat finances in Sweden: the Common Reporting Standard
Gallery
People-watching: September 28th
Sponsored Article
Let's Talk: a personal Swedish language tutor in your pocket
National
Aliens' sex lives? Why Swedes want Nasa to send a condom into space
Analysis & Opinion
'If Sweden really wants startups, drop the red tape on migration'
Blog updates

27 September

Cutting your nose …. (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"Last week, Jeremy Browne, the Special Representative for the City of London, visited Sweden. Jeremy was…" READ »

 

7 September

Svensk or svenska? (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hejsan! My inbox is full of questions :-). Here’s one about when to use “svensk” and…" READ »

 
 
 
Sponsored Article
‘I view the world in a different way now’
Gallery
Property of the week: Gotland
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
National
Trump an 'embarrassment' Springsteen tells Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: September 23rd-25th
Politics
Russian Sweden Democrat aide resigns over suspect deal
Sponsored Article
'Creating a sense of home': Collective living in Stockholm
National
Muslim teacher leaves job after not shaking male colleague's hand
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Travel
Why we adore autumn in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: September 21st
Sponsored Article
Gran Canaria: 'So much more than beaches'
National
Stockholmers hunt killer badger after attack on neighbourhood hipster cat
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
The Local Voices
Why this Russian developer is committed to helping refugees - with tech
National
Six key points in Sweden's budget plan
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
The Local Voices
How a Swedish name finally made recruiters notice this Iranian's CV
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Gallery
Property of the week: Luleå
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
Gallery
People-watching: September 16th-18th
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
Culture
Why Swedish TV has given these kids' trucks a sex swap
Sponsored Article
7 reasons you should join Sweden’s ’a-kassa’
National
TIMELINE: Everything you need to know about the Julian Assange case
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Gallery
People-watching: September 14th
Politics
Why Sweden is putting troops on holiday dream island Gotland
The Local Voices
'What I mean when I say: I came here to blow myself up'
Society
VIDEO: Are Swedes that unfriendly?
Features
INTERVIEW: How Arthur the jungle dog opened hearts and minds
Gallery
Property of the week: Smögen, Västra Götaland
Society
Sweden's ancient forest tongue Elfdalian fights for survival
The Local Voices
'Whenever I apply for jobs I’m treated like an unwanted stranger'
The Local Voices
Is Swedish bosses' ignorance keeping refugees out of jobs?
3,006
jobs available