Why Fred & George struggled at Hogwarts

Jan 24, 2009

Posted by Doris

Boys Adrift I’ve often wondered about the IQ of Fred and George Weasley. It’s an odd thing to think of, but when you spend much of your time thinking about learning patterns it’s inevitable. If you looked at their grades, it’s ironic that these two intelligent young men didn’t receive the highest marks, yet they both were succesful business men. While George now lives on without Fred, I’d bet both of them knew early on, that boys didn’t fit into schools the way girls did.

Occasionally someone will have books sent to me to read and offer my opinion. I love reading and you’ll find a variety of books in my book bag, or downloaded on my IPOD at any given time. Recently I conducted a book group on Boys Adrift by Dr L Saks, which was sent to me from a teacher friend. This excellent book and I suggest it to anyone who is raising a bot, teaching a boy or knows boys. (I think that should cover everyone)

As a teacher, I’ve noticed that recently boys seem to have less motivation then in years past. I also notice that, while sitting around talking to my teacher-peers, this is becoming something many other teachers are noticing. This book addresses the trend of under-achieving boys.

Here are a few of the topics discussed in this book.

  • The over-use of ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) Medication for boys
  • Lack of positive role models for boys in the media, sports, music etc.
  • The over-emphasis of teaching boys subject matter before their brains are willing to handle it
  • The role of video games in a young man’s life
  • Toxic chemicals found in toys that affect the young male’s chemistry.

This book discusses a common trend noticed by both teachers and parents alike, that school doesn’t seem to be working well for our boys. I found the book fascinating and Dr Saks ideas level-headed and just filled with common sense. I suggest everyone read this book. If you care about a single boy out there, you’ll be glad you did.

38 Responses to Why Fred & George struggled at Hogwarts

Avatar Image says: I've ordered the book already! I've noticed this too in the classes I'm teaching and observing, and I'd love a good resource, even being a boy myself, on how to reach young males.Avatar Image says: OMG - You are a boy! LOL (sorry could not resist) Actually - it's funny that we (we being teachers) believe we can teach all kids the same. Hello - we're all different. The book really points out the obvious, we're all different and we learn differently. Glad you ordered it, can't wait to discuss it with you.Avatar Image says: I have always been concerned that Hogwarts did not apparently have a Learning Support Base. If it had, then perhaps the twins would have been diagnosed as having wizard's version of dyslexia. This would explain their creativity, innovative spirit and underachievement at school.There lack of qualifications didn't hold them back in the end though did it?Avatar ImageDorisTLC says: Ruth you are so correct there! The twins would have needed something that didn't come in a traditional school. While they had love and friendship they stayed, but were only minimally successful. They are the poster boys for creating a more hand on classroom.Avatar Imageelly2.0 says: Good post, and thanks. F&G still had love and friendship at Hogwarts when they 'did a bunk,' though ~ what they didn't have, and what precipitated their decision to leave, was incompetent teaching à la Umbridge. I'm all for elevating regard for the teaching profession in the U.S. by increasing salaries, to start, thereby raising the quality of teaching via competition for coveted spots. It's hard to get highly-qualified applicants for the teaching pool of tomorrow without raising the expectations of our under-served students today. Avatar ImageTheCrogePodge says: In the case of Fred and George, I personally think that they just didn't want to put any effort into their classwork. As for boys in general, this is certainly something I have noticed both in and out of the classroom. While video games may be the case, I agree with the positive role model idea. People always focus on positive role models for girls that I feel boys are, occasionally, left in the wayside. Like a reverse form of sexism, we are neglecting boys while helping girls.Avatar Imagetravisprinzi says: I've frequently used F&G as examples of people who get "left behind" in an atmosphere of heavy standardization. Only certain types of knowledge "count" for anything, and F&G's brilliance didn't fit the model. It's no coincidence that Rowling had them leave school during the year she most heavily satirized government-imposed standardized curriculum.Avatar Imagecrushonlupin says: Interesting, I have a little boy who is incredibly intelligent but unmotivated. It sounds like I should read this book.Avatar ImageBrianaTheBard says: This is really interesting. I have a little (ha, he's 15 years old and 6 inches taller than me) brother who is very intelligent and witty, but he really doesn't get good grades in school. The doctors tried to give him medication for ADD, but my parents have a firm disbelief in it (they tried to get me on it, too, and I turned out just fine.) We went to a school that was very much academically oriented and small (grades K-12) where everything was standardized with a certain curriculum that nobody changed, and coincidentally, never had a male valedictorian in our 55 year history. My little brother and sister just transferred to a different school in the area, and coincidentally, getting much better grades. At the last school, my brother decided that he was too stupid to go to college, but now he wants to go to tech school to be a nurse. This sounds like a very interesting book, I'll pass it along to my mother!Avatar ImageSophie Treklemmer says: I'm sorry, but I don't completely agree with what you are saying. I feel like I did not belong in school all through my life and I'm a girl! Feeling demotivated is not limited to boys only. Although I can agree that perhaps there is more boys than girls finding school difficult or unsuited for their personality and needs, I wouldn't limit this research to them only. What you are saying here could also apply to many girls that I know have struggled with school, me included. Other than that little comment, I'm definitely interested in reading this book! There seems to be a lot working against school life in present time, such as "more interesting things to do" like video games and things on the internet. These distractions and the things that you've mentioned, as well as many many other problems can all play a part in lowering enjoyment and performance in schools. It's a very interesting topic...Avatar ImageAmikia says: Great entry! I'm definitely going to check this book out as soon as possible and let my friends w/children know about it.Avatar Imagepurplekim says: I think that poor diet could be added to your list of things that are limiting the potential of boys (and lots of girls too) in the classroom.Avatar Imagecrimsoncobalt says: My experience with ADD, and while I'll admit the experience is only that of a couple of boys, while I have read a lot and heard a lot, is that the signs portrayed by the Weasley twins are most commonly those associated with ADD, so perhaps there is something there that hasn't been pointed out by Jo. This really made me think, I hadn't thought about the twins that way before and I thank you :)Avatar Imagejalawood says: Okay, maybe all of that's true, but I think video games would affect boys and girls (of course, maybe I'm one of the few girls who plays video games obsessively)Avatar ImageDorisTLC says: Great comments guys - PellegrinoSophie I think you are correct that many girls do feel a disconnect when it comes to the school system and how it fits into their lives, but statistically speaking boys have a higher drop out rate then girls, that is why the book is geared to boys in the classroom. I also think we need to look at all students and how to improve our classrooms to fit the needs. The book does address diet and video games, and how many of our boys don't learn in a linear manner. (the way school is taught) If this is true then we as educators have to address this if we're going to do what is best for our children. Thanks everyone, DorisAvatar ImageSophie Treklemmer says: Hi Doris ;) Sorry if I came on a bit strong (just read my entry again and it almost sounds like I'm angry, which wasn't what I was aiming for XD) I looked up some of the statistic and you are right; the drop out rate in most countries are way higher for boys then for girls. I didn't know it was that bad. When you think of all the difference it makes in the job life (I don't know about America, but in Norway the pay doubles and sometimes triples if you have a High School education or higher!) that's a big problem! My mother is a social worker who works with "trouble teens", so I've kinda picked up an interest in these kinda topics from her. Norway has some trouble when it comes to its schools (there has been a lot of reforms, but not much improvement) and I think the problems raised in this book would be very interesting for some of our educational ministers to read up on. And I also agree with purplekim that a poor diet creates a lot of the issues in schools. If people ate enough of the good'n'healthy stuff before school, than concentration levels would rise and naturally performance and grades would go up, too. ^_^ It's good to hear that the book takes that into consideration as well as video games, etc etc. ;)Avatar Imagethereshegoes says: That is very interesting. I wish my sister actually read books or listened to peoples lectures. She has four boys and I think that book could definitely be good for her (and the boys).Avatar Imagesirius20_81 says: huh. i guess i should probably read this before my 4 year old son starts kindergarten. Avatar ImageDolemite says: This is definitely something I am concerned with my now 3 year old boy. He's definitely very intelligent but he's a handful. Is he ADD - possibly. I really would never use medication if at all possible. I think he'll be a challenge early on in school. I'm hoping he'll have a male K teacher because I have read they do better with boys like that.Avatar Imagetruthiness says: As an over achieving male, I can tell you that school curriculum has been scrubbed of anything remotely interesting to males (except for those who love math and science). In the effort to "make things fair" and "level the playingfield", the Department of Education has scrubbed our history books of the most interesting parts of exploration, conquest, war and politics, leaving us with a litany of boring dates, facts and figures, with no visceral connection. Perhaps they should separate males and females in schools, and teach them what they respectively want / need to learn, so that they don't dumb everything down in an ill-fated attempt not to hurt anyone's feelings.Avatar ImageThe-T-Dane says: After having read this interesting point of view and all the comments too, I just have to add, that I believe (firmly) that there are WAY TOO MANY diagnoses, analyses and "THIS is the problem with ..." in many school systems. Problems appear when too many people are asked/forced to apply to one way of doing things. I was sooo happy once intelligence were pointed out to be much more than only one test for IQ some years ago - that a person can be brilliant in one field and suck in another, but where have that made the school-system go? No-where! It's still the same old same old (except in singular excellent cases - in my country always expensive private schools - or with exceptionel singular teachers) but it's still not taking each individual student and treat them individually. With all the wealth accumulating in some societies, I would expect those accumulating to be interested in educating the future source of creativity, craftsmanship, scientists and so on but it seems the schoolsystem is slimming instead of gaining? How wise is that? I have no idea about whether more boys than girls are lost in the school-system, but boys do have a tendency to be less able to hide their frustrations (but I'm a girl, so maybe I'm biased ;-) - If we then also could have all refined sugar excluded from ALL peoples diets, we would see students (as well as parents) Exceed Over All Expectations! IMO ~tAvatar ImageLunaratu says: This is a really interesting premise and I think I might just go read the book. Though I have to agree that while it might be more prevalent in boys I could definitely see this becoming a problem for any child in a standardized school system. It's another reason why so many students in each classroom these days probably acts more as a hindrance to kids than a help...Avatar ImageDarkPsychosis says: I have always thought todays society jumps to medication to fast for many problems today. Back several years ago, people who had ADD and other learned to live with it and act like a normal person. Also, the role of video games is a semi important one in a young man's like I believe. I know when I was younger I played the games I played for many different reasons from taking out stress to just plain entertainment.Avatar ImageGinevra86 says: You bring up some very interesting points here. I guess that the twins really would have benefited from more hands-on, active learning. They are definitely more kinestetic than visual or aural. I often wonder if they would have ended up in some sort of vocational or trade school if they were Muggles....?Avatar ImageChelsea8882 says: A very wise teacher once told me something that will stay with me for the rest of my life: Public schools are like public Bathrooms: everyone goes there. What she was saying was that education is standardized a certain way because it has to encompass the general population of students. There are a few students that the normal methods just won't reach. I was one of those students (and so was she, ha) I was definitely smart, I just found the whole way school is set up to be stupid (i.e. I never understood why I had to do the homework if I got the highest grade on the tests over the same material?) so I didn't care. I graduated with honors from high school, got a 29 on the ACT (36 reading portion, thanks HP!) and did all with a 2.5 GPA. Anyway... even though this book is geared towards boys, I think a lot of people can relate to it. Avatar ImageAntoast says: One thing i'm confused by is that fred and george didn't get good grades on their owls but in the first book when harry first meets Ron, Ron says that they goof around "...but they still get really good marks."Avatar Imagedinolaaand says: i find this very interesting. i may just have to read this book, since i've noticed this going on with many boys around me.Avatar ImageAntoast says: i have one thing that contradicts what i said before if they had failed their owls miserably then how did fred manage to change rons knife into an airplane let alone do it nonverballyAvatar ImageLetterM says: That's very interesting. I'll check that book out sometime.Avatar ImageAntoast says: also how could they not know anything if they started and made all their murchandiseAvatar ImageGred84 says: I think this is great! It's nice to know that there are other teachers who are out here in the Harry Potter community. I'm in graduate school to become a teacher, and I have seen first hand how its harder for boys! My younger brother has struggled for years with school and dropped out eventually because he was diagnosed as ADHD really early on (now he is diagnosed as not just ADHD, but also Bipolar). I think as teachers, it's our jobs to work with boys like we do with girls and not to give up on them. They may frustrate us, but as teachers we just cannot give up on them no matter what! Thank you for bringing this up!Avatar Imagebookmonster79 says: This sounds interesting. I will have to check it out.Avatar Imagerushinn says: The fact that boys have become so unmotivated in the academic fields has also recently become a great problem in the college admissions process. Almost always, colleges find that girls have much stronger applications than boys, but, of course, the college has to keep up a good girl to guy ratio. Therefore, a lot of overqualified girls are actually getting denied college admissions in favor of boys who have done much less to get there.Avatar ImageThe Silver Doe music says: Sounds like a fascinating book. I'll be doing my student teaching next year, so this is all really useful information. You mentioned the lack of a positive role model for boys - I think another problem that sort of goes along with that is the simple fact that boys aren't as likely as girls to be actively searching for a role model. I think girls are more likely to try and find someone to look up to, and someone in their lives to get advice from. Boys, on the other hand, want to seem macho and independent, so they don't want help from anyone. It's difficult to direct boys in the right direction when they don't want to listen to anyone else.Avatar ImageFluxrian says: In Philosophers stone, we are told Fred And George get Good marks.Avatar ImageLumis says: The book seems to me, pointing toward variables that influence. I think rather that its an issue of A directly effects B, not A through C and then D effect B. Meaning most who do bad in school, really don't care about the conventions, the pragmatic route; I think that's what smart people really can't handle when they go to school. It's like "why am I going to learn this, there's so much else to see" and sitting in rectangles all day is not anything someone with intelligence would do. They would have a mind to say I won't let society teach me what I already know, what has already resulted in prolonged senility (we live longer through what supposedly through the advanced of medicine, to what be more bitter and old, freak and consume wrinkle cream?), or create more damage with advanced science & technology (it's only been used to create weapons to give nations a power grip in the global market). Truly smart people, don't allow themselves to be overtaken by the contentious crowds, they think for themselves, and if they have enough confidence in themselves like Fred and George they won't care what anyone else thinks and create their own accomplishments like picasso or camus. Avatar ImageKahEvans says: Well I have to agree with Pellegrinosophie's comment - this does not affect boys only. Although, perhaps this is more noticed in boys, girls also have their share of these problems. I should say it myself. Sometimes school simply doesn't appeal to either boys or girls... I think I'll order this book, it's a really interesting issue after all.. :)Avatar ImageBobcatTeacher says: I totally agree with you. I teach elementary special education and I have noticed the lack of motivation of many of my students, but it is more pronounced in boys. I feel strongly that we are teaching some students (boys and girls) material before they are ready. Combine that with the trend (at least in my school district) to not retain students until the 3rd grade when they fail the state mandated tests, and students fall further and further behind. Don't get me wrong. I don't want to see kids fail, but when they are not ready to grasp the concepts of a given grade level, isn't it more humane to hold them back in the primary grades than to wait until upper elementary where the social stigma of failing will be much worse? Education seems to be more and more standardized. We often forget that children are individuals with varying talents, needs, and degrees of maturity. By the way, I plan to get "Boys Adrift" and recommend it to my friends and coworkers.

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