Education: Boys vs. Girls
We must teach boys differently!
Inclusive of their physiology and psychological structures, boys and girls vary in a number of ways, and as a result, the behaviours and mannerisms of boys and girls vary as well. In an effort to optimize the outcomes of the teaching and learning process for both boys and girls, teachers need to vary their teaching strategies.
It is very simple: boys and girls learn differently. For instance, girls may respond in a particular way to the tone of a female teacher’s voice while on the other hand, boys may respond differently to that same tone of the same female teacher. Similarly, girls and boys also respond differently to male teachers who are few and far between in our education system.
Boys are more likely to be regarded as inattentive and easily distracted, compared to girls. Boys are also likely to introduce an alternative to the general lesson being taught. If improvements are to be made in educating boys, consideration must be given to the types of lessons being taught and the strategies and resources being used.
We also need to look at the ways in which our girls and boys are socialized. As a child, I remember being told to assist with household chores while the boys were allowed to play outside. In those days, girls were usually found playing with dolls, tea sets and anything else that would keep them inside. In the process, they were indirectly socialized towards taking care of the house and being seated inside for periods at a time. As a result, girls may have found it less of a challenge to acclimatize to the formal classroom setting.
Since boys were encouraged to play instead of staying indoors for long periods of time, they may have found it more challenging to acclimatize to the formal classroom setting.
As time progressed, there is less of a distinction in this respect. Girls appear to be less likely to conform to the stereotypical norms of the society of ‘long ago’ while boys seem to be stuck in that realm of being stereotyped in the specific roles of being ‘at play’.
Of course, there are other factors to consider since this topic of educating boys and girls is a complex one. There is not one particular factor that affects the variations of how boys learn and/or are taught. Furthermore, there is a popular belief – usually supported by scientific proof – that a girl’s brain develops (or ‘matures’) faster than a boy’s.
A simple explanation is that as girls mature, changes in the brain are occurring. Connections that were redundant are removed and more connections are made between the two hemispheres as compared to a boy’s brain. With girls, the flow of these connections are apparently more stable, allowing for their brains to be re-organized earlier than that of boys. It is believed, therefore, that this earlier re-organization allows the brain to work more efficiently and reach a state of maturity earlier; hence girls mature faster than boys. The brains of girls are able to process the stimuli in the environment earlier as well.
Despite these marked differences between boys and girls and how they learn, the education system expects both boys and girls to begin their formal schooling at the same age. Both formative (weekly and monthly tests) and summative (Secondary Entrance Assessment – S.E.A.) are required for both boys and girls, with this being a possible explanation for the distinct difference in the results for both genders.
I have not discussed the effects of attending single sex schools versus attending mixed schools on learning and teaching, but we definitely have to consider the impact of using the same curriculum and environment for the teaching and learning process for both genders at the same time. These factors need to be considered for the optimization of teaching and learning.
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