Teaching Girls and Boys Differently

ClassroomClassroomWhile the debate
continues on psychological sex differences (discussed on PsyBlog here and
here), a doctor and psychologist, Leonard Sax, argues that boys and girls
should be educated differently.

Diagnoses of Attention Deficit
Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are on the rise, most notably amongst boys –
something Dr Sax partly ascribes to an approach to child-rearing that is
‘gender-neutral’. Perhaps by wilfully ignoring the differences between boys and
girls we are not educating them as well as we could be.
There is gathering evidence
that, on average, boys and girls process all sorts of stimuli in quite
different ways. There is evidence for hemispheric differences, with male brains
being more compartmentalised, female brains better integrated.
Perhaps as a result, girls are
better at interpreting facial expressions and talking about emotions. Boys, on
the other hand, take more risks, are more likely to over-estimate their own
ability and are generally more attracted to violence and conflict.
Apart from that, boys and
girls’ learning styles are different, with girls tending to ask for help while
boys use the teacher as a last resort. Similarly, the two sexes respond to
different motivational techniques – boys responding much better to
time-constrained tasks and pressure situations than girls.
Dr Sax also points out that
attributing the differences between boys and girls to the idea that girls
mature quicker than boys is too simplistic. Certainly linguistic abilities
develop more quickly in girls, but it is the spatial abilities that develop
more quickly in boys.
This not a strong enough
argument for single-sex education (not something it seems Dr Sax is
advocating), but certainly these are differences that need to be understood by
educators. Acceptance of these findings is particularly important in a society
where to talk about the average psychological differences between boys and
girls can be extremely controversial.
the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD
is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from
University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about
scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book
“Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks.
Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.