Education Opinion

The Gendered Brain?

By Richard Whitmire — May 25, 2010 1 min read
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Here’s an opportunity to study gender learning differences -- assuming you think they’re significant enough to study. These folks do.

Their press release:

DICK AND JANE IN THE CLASSROOM RTC LAUNCHES GROUNDBREAKING PROGRAM FOR TEACHERS ON THE GENDERED BRAIN Helps Teachers Work with Gender Differences in the Classroom Randolph, NJ (May 11, 2010) - Do boys and girls learn differently? You bet they do! Now, The Regional Training Center (RTC), a leading provider of professional development programs for teachers in NJ, PA and MD, has incorporated the latest medical research behind these critical differences into a groundbreaking training program that helps teachers better understand and integrate gender differences in the classroom. Designed in conjunction with researchers Amy Lewis and Gail Hooker, both of whom are also teachers, the course, titled The Gendered Brain, will debut July 26-30 as part of RTC's summer course schedule in Easton, PA. Additional courses and locations in NJ, PA and MD will be included in the fall course schedule. "In America, we value fairness and believe that means treating everyone the same, but we have to recognize that boys and girls learn differently and therefore need to be exposed to different teaching methods," said Hooker. By better understanding these differences, teachers can enhance the classroom experience to ensure that boys and girls are getting the best education possible. According to Lewis, "If you understand and have a heightened awareness in regard to gender differences you can better relate to students." According to Hooker, the feminization of schools and the resulting gender-based differences in education are issues that need to be addressed for several reasons. She notes that recent studies indicate that only 60 percent of boys who enter school will graduate, and 75 percent of special education students are male. Further, girls are surpassing boys in both college and graduate school enrollments.[1] The course explores the current research on the developmental, functional and structural similarities and differences in the male and female brains. Teachers are given an opportunity to research and discuss the effects of gender differences and how to present material in a way that enhances each student's worth and meaning. What makes the course unique, however, is its exploration of the practical aspects of these differences in regard to classroom teaching. For example, boys have a need for movement. When their brain goes into a restful state, they will often tap a pencil or begin rocking in their chair as their body attempts to stay alert. This may be more annoying to a female teacher because her inner ear is biologically designed to be more receptive to sound than a male's. Boys are also more inspired when they are in a competitive situation, but female teachers tend to avoid the concept of winners and losers. So, while there is a need for cooperative learning, there is also still a need to create competitive situations as a motivational tool. Similarly, science has shown that females have more connections between their brain hemispheres, which allow them to multitask better. Males, however, have a better ability to singularly focus. What does this mean in regard to the classroom? Lewis explains that long term projects may have many different steps, so teachers should break projects down into specific tasks with different due dates to accommodate both genders. The connectors in the female brain also allow girls to process language faster. So, following a class reading, a teacher may ask students how a character in a story reacted to a situation. Females will likely have their hands up to answer the question first. However, to give males a chance to process and respond to the question, teachers may want to momentarily pause before choosing a student, thus giving the boys in the class an opportunity to raise their hands as well. The Gendered Brain course gives teachers over 30 different practical activities to better meet the needs of both genders in the classroom, as well as helping them to: · Motivate and empower learners of both genders, · Understand the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor needs of both genders, and · Have a greater awareness of current research regarding the differences between the male and female brain.

The opinions expressed in Why Boys Fail are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.