TEEN BOARDING SCHOOLS
How Boys and Girls Learn Differently
To understand how boys and girls learn differently, you need to know how physiological, social and brain differences affect how children learn.
Boys don't hear as well as girls do. Research shows that girls can hear sounds much softer than those heard by boys. Therefore, boys in the back row may not hear a soft-spoken female teacher.
Boys tend to overestimate their abilities. While girls are critical of their performance, boys tend to believe their performance is brilliant, even if it is not. This means that boys must be challenged externally to improve performance.
Boys develop language skills later than girls do. Reading and writing may be more difficult for boys in early elementary years than for girls. And story problems in math are more difficult for boys to decipher, because not only must they do the math, but they must also grapple with language skills to do so.
Boys develop fine motor skills later than girls do. Even the task of gripping a pencil properly or cutting things out with scissors is more difficult for young boys.
Boys' brains go into a rest state many times a day. Girls' brains are more active than those of boys, so they are less likely to zone out during the day. Boys perform better when moving.
Boys learn best in "master-apprentice" relationships. From the beginning of time, boys have learned one on one at the hand of a male figure. They do not learn as well with 30 kids to one teacher.
Emotional activity is processed differently in boys' brains. The brain activity related to emotion is processed in the same area of the brain involved with reasoning in older (adolescent) girls. But in boys, brain activity related to emotion has no connection with the area of the brain involved with reasoning. This means that books with story lines involving a character's feelings do not generally interest boys. Boys prefer non-fiction; they like to read about real events or about how things work. In fiction books, boys want stories with exciting characters and lots of adventure.
Boys develop spatial memory earlier than girls. In other words, boys can more easily record information about the environment and the position of objects in the environment.
Boys are kinesthetic learners. Boys learn by using gross motor skills, manipulating and moving things to learn.
Reading through this list, it becomes obvious that educational efforts targeted toward a female style of learning will not be appropriate for boys. This doesn't mean that boys are incapable of learning the same things – but just that they need to be taught differently.
Some educators who are aware of these differences in learning believe that boys are best served in single sex schools, or at least single sex classrooms. Here, boys can use gross motor skills, move around, manipulate things, read what interests them, and learn math without having to decipher the story behind the math. Research is beginning to show that boys in those schools with single sex education remain interested – even excited – by learning, and perform better both academically and behaviorally.