and What Teachers Should Know About the Differences
In Boys and Girls as Learners Theresa London Cooper
Boys and Girls Learn Differently: A Guide
for Teachers and Parents
by Michael Gurian
A primary area of concern for
nearly every teacher is the differences we each intuit
in the males and females we teach. We all know that
there is immense overlap between the genders, and that
each child is an inherently sacrosanct individual not
to be limited by a gender stereotype, but we also know
that boys and girls learn differently right before our
Stop. Take a moment to think about
the boys and girls in the pre-k through high school
classroom. Ask yourself, how are they different? Why
are they different? How will these differences impact
my teaching practice?
Over the years, I have observed
a number of differences that have been consistent. Generally,
I found several things:
- Boys tend to move around and
get out of their seats more often than girls.
- Boys tend to require more physical
space when working independently than girls. (Did
you ever notice that boys tend to have an arm or a
leg in the space of the person sitting next to them?)
- Boys tend to grasp spatial concepts
more rapidly than girls while girls seem to embrace
the use of language to convey their understanding
of concepts more readily than boys.
- Girls seem to be a great deal
more talkative than boys.
- Girls are less likely to use
physical force to resolve conflicts than boys.
The list could go on and on. Once
we recognize and understand these differences we can
plan according to the different needs boys and girls
have as learners, thereby energizing our classrooms
and minimizing disruptive behavior.
We know cultural and environmental
influences play a role in some of these differences.
However, Michael Gurain’s book Boys
and Girls Learn Differently documents
brain-based research that can account for some of these
differences. Additonally, the book offers practical
suggestions that will improve the learning environment.
The findings have profound implications for the way
we set up our classrooms, seat our students, structure
a lesson, and draw conclusions regarding the underlying
reasons for our students’ behavior. If you want
to energize your classroom, give your students opportunities
to strengthen their abilities while developing new ones,
and minimize disruptive behavior, I encourage you to
read Gurain’s book to learn more about the brain
and its impact on girls and boys as learners.
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