Competition in class is often a way for teachers to check children’s learning in a way that makes their students excited. For any competitive game, I remember many of my elementary school teachers would be forced to divide the class in half, which most often led to a “girl” team and a “boy” team. Although I didn’t notice it at the time, after reading this book chapter describing some of the early learning differences between boys and girls, I’ve had to reflect on why the results of those competitions always seemed so similar.
I have always heard that girls mature much quicker than boys, which I felt was an adequate enough explanation for most of the delinquents at my schools being male. In her research regarding how to teach both girls and boys, however, the author reveals some of the causes for boys’ seeming lack of interest in school at an early age, the most interesting of which, to me, is how female-oriented teaching can exacerbate the problem. Many curriculums for young students focus on reading and writing, as well as speaking, all of which appeal to young females’ verbal superiority. Girls also develop a good verbal working memory before boys, and have much better episodic memory. Being that language is the first focus of learning for children, it is easy for young boys to be left behind at a very early age. Boys’ strengths lie much more in fact recall and spatial memory, while they often struggle verbally when compared to girls. When it comes to general memory in class, the author claims that “males connect action and perception, whereas females connect analysis and intuition (Ingalhalikar et al., 2014). What this means is that the teacher is using words as cues for memory, and females in the class can use the words to analyze and find appropriate memory. The males in the class need more concrete information or references to something they did in class. It is not necessarily that boys are not paying attention, but that the teacher used the wrong cues to help them remember”. When boys are not given cues which appeal to their cognitive strengths, they may lose interest or feel as though they cannot succeed academically, even though research shows that they will develop these skills naturally over time. In her conclusion, the author also points out that those boys whose brains do develop well verbally at an early age should not be discouraged socially, as they are often looked down upon for having interests in reading and writing. Rather, it is important to consider those cognitive differences as a result of both brain development and social conditioning, in order to identify where a student’s strengths lie, and how education for each type of brain can be improved.
James, A. (2015). Cognitive differences. In Teaching the male brain (pp. 61-81). Thousand Oaks,, CA: Corwin doi: 10.4135/9781483393407.n6