Let’s start this week’s column with a little true/false test.
True or False: Boys (ages 3-5) will use dolls as attack weapons or warfare.
True or False: When girls (middle school aged) are quiet in class, it is because they are confident.
True or False: IQ scores rise dramatically in boys between the ages of 14 and 16.
True or False: Performance on writing exams drops by as much as 14 percent during menstrual cycles for females.
I have to be honest—gender differences absolutely amaze me. I mean, we all know there are differences. Shouldn’t there be some kind of gender differences class in undergraduate school for teachers, and future parents, to take and become informed? It would only make sense, right?
About the quiz: if you answered “TRUE” to ALL of the questions above, then you certainly know your gender differences. If you answered false, well, there is plenty of information out there to be found. The awareness of gender differences has never been greater. The vast amount of books that can be found on how to raise a girl or how to nurture a boy line the shelves of the local book stores.
. I’d like to continue that and share with you a few more interesting facts.
1.Sensitivity and Group Dynamics
Girls tend to work better cooperatively, being aware of the group dynamics, whereas boys tend to focus on performing the task well. This is when the idea of “pecking order” comes to light. Pecking order is determined by size, personality, personal abilities, verbal skills and other traits. It is quite normal to be at different levels at different times as school experiences continue.
Interestingly enough, girls who are not as popular or not called on as much or not even really heard are less likely to fail school. Conversely, boys who are not seen as socially aggressive or “not heard” are more likely to fail. It definitely makes you think.
What is even more compelling is that where boys are in the pecking order also is connected to how a boy learns. The boys who are considered to be on the lower level secrete more cortisol, a stress hormone, forcing the brain to attend to emotions and survival rather than learning. Brain research has proven that emotional needs are always met first for learning to occur. In plain English, this basically means that when stress is felt, a physical reaction and learning cannot take place.
2.Use of Symbolism
Boys like the coded quality of items more so than girls. Diagrams, graphs, and pictures are relied upon often by boys. The brain connection is amazing here because boys are more right hemisphere developed and will rely on these symbols to promote their learning.
3.Use of Learning Teams
Both boys and girls benefit immensely by working in groups. The major difference is that girls want to manage everything and boys tend to create more structured teams to prevent this process from drawing out.
A powerful study that parents and teachers may be interested in reading is called "The War Against Boys" by Christina Hoff Sommers. It focuses on what is really going on in our schools from a gender point of view. It may be worth it to take a look.
I once had an instructor ask me to keep a journal of a boy and girl in a situation and see what I observed. I was so awakened by this experience and it inspired me to ensure we educate ourselves and actually do something to enhance our classrooms to make these differences fewer. In the meantime, let’s encourage our girls and boys to have a balance.
Until next week—If you are interested in a specific topic, please send me an email and I will be more than happy to do the research. Enjoy the snow-free weekend!
Source: "Boys and Girls Learn Differently!" by Michael Gurian