Gender Differences in Education
Does Gender Make a Difference
Male vs. Female Learning
One of the largest gender differences concerning the brain and learning, and the one that probably raises the most concern, is that in the area of mathematics. Because mathematics is such a widely used assessment tool for educators, and because males seem to have a higher capacity of understanding mathematics, it would seem to be an unfair assessment tool and as the author Eric Jensen points out in the text Brain-Based Learning efforts are being made to equalize gender differences in standardized testing for entering college ( i.e. PSAT) (pg. 34-35).
Females seem to out perform men in some language arts related tasks such as spelling and word generation, whereas males do better in working vocabulary. But where females tend to really excel is in foreign language learning or new language acquisition, “Three-quarters of university students majoring in foreign languages are female. Women excel at verbal memory and process language faster and more accurately [than do men]” (Jensen, 2008).
With the latter being said, one of the main functional differences in the the brain that lead to women out performing men in new language acquisition is their ability to process language faster and their ability to hear the nuances of language (Jensen, 2008). This without a doubt aids in their ability to pick up new dialects of language quicker, and male educators must be careful with their pronunciation during instruction because of the acute perception of the female's brain, it could actually lead to confusion.
Another key functional difference between gender's brain and learning is vision. “Males have better distance vision and depth perception, while females excel at peripheral vision” (Jensen, 2008). This is something for educators to be aware of when they think of classroom configuration and the way they present visual information to students. It may be a good idea to place females on the outside of the classroom to where they could be looking out at the side and try to keep them away from the center and front of the room. I have many theories on this, but because women generally multitask better than men, they can be doing multiple things while looking at the visual information of the the board or screen and thus not giving it their full undivided attention only glancing up with their peripheral, whereas men may prefer to stare longer and digest the information longer.
As the author Jensen suggests, as educators we just can't allow ourselves to stereotype gender differences, but be aware there are differences – even across cultures. We will learn and adapt our strategies accordingly to be the most effective teachers we can be, but I think awareness and gender expectations are the keys to having and equal education classroom.
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