The Education of Playful Boys: Class Clowns in the Classroom

This longitudinal study identified degrees of playfulness in 278 kindergarten-aged children, and followed them through their next three school years to determine how playfulness was viewed by the children themselves, their classmates, and teachers. Perceptions of the social competence, disruptiveness, and labeling as the class clown, were assessed from all perspectives in each of first through third grades. Hierarchical linear modeling was conducted to account for the nesting of the data (children within classrooms within schools) and for the lack of independence between the measures. A central finding confirmed extant literature in that gender differences were dominant, with playful boys regarded as distinct from their less playful counterparts, while no such discrepancies appeared for girls. Playful boys were increasingly negatively regarded as rebellious and intrusive and were labeled as the “class clown” by their teachers. These findings were in direct contrast with children’s self-perceptions and those of their peers, who initially regarded more playful boys as appealing and engaging playmates. The data further revealed that the playful boys were stigmatized by their te

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