Anyone who has spent time with children recognizes that boys and girls behave differently, even from a very early age. The reason is simple: boys’ brains differ
from girls’ brain. Scientific studies indicate physiological differences in male and female brains from the onset of development. In 2000, Dr. Bradley Peterson from the Yale Child Study Center presented research that demonstrated that boys have larger frontal cortexes and larger cerebellums than girls.
Dr. Leonard Sax, a Maryland physician, maintains that little girls generally hear better than little boys and tend to score higher in language ability, face recognition, fine motor skills and “social sensitivity.” Girls even test out better at multitasking. On the other hand, boys are better at putting shapes together and visualizing an object’s appearance in three dimensions. They also tend to outscore girls in computation. Furthermore, boys are more influenced by hormones and exhibit more "rough and tumble" behavior, while girls have earlier physical and psychological development. Boys can focus for longer periods on one task, and they finish tests faster than girls. Recognition of these essential differences and implementation of an array of learning activities can enhance learning for all children.
Michael Gurian and Kathy Stevens, co-authors of The Minds of Boys: Saving Our Sons from Failing in School and Life, maintain that unless educational practices change, boys will continue to be unfairly labeled with behavioral problems and learning disabilities. According to national data, boys receive most school suspensions and bring home roughly 70 percent of the Ds and Fs.
A glance inside most traditional classrooms indicates that they strongly favor girls’ learning modes. In the first place, the majority of elementary level teachers are women, who are thus predisposed to imparting information verbally. While girls are more apt to absorb information this way, boys tend to fidget during passive
instruction. This language gap — which researchers find worldwide — can be especially troubling in early grades, when Dr. Sax, says many boys aren’t yet ready to enjoy reading or even hearing a book recited (unless it’s loud and theatrical). And this difference extends to higher grades as well. By high school, 37% of girls read for pleasure, while only 19% choose to read as a leisure activity.
How can teachers begin to change classroom practices to differentiate learning that will benefit both sexes? They can rely less on lecture and provide more active learning. They can provide more physical activity in a classroom. For
example, Mr. Gurian suggests that students be allowed to move around more in
classrooms. They can deliver papers to the principal’s office, build a report instead of writing one, and work often in same-sex groups. They can let pupils stand and move around as much as they want, provided that they do not disturb other students. Of course, creative and energetic teachers can provide a myriad of learning opportunities to make the educational process exciting and fulfilling for both boys and girls.