Do boys and girls really learn differently?

Do boys and girls really learn differently?

Do boys and girls really learn differently?

If they do, how could understanding these differences increase our effectiveness (or “cool” factor) as parents and educators?  In this first part series, let’s consider the first question in more detail to see what current research and classroom practices reveal to us.

The most direct and obvious answer to the first questions is yes.  You don’t have to be a parent or professional of any kind that works directly with children very long before you notice the preferential and behavioral differences of each gender.  Yes, there are most assuredly overlap or commonalities in behaviors; but, nonetheless, there are significant differences in the brain development that affect behaviors of each gender as they grow and mature.  Since we, as educators and parents, intuitively sense that boys and girls grow and learn differently, we often have too little information about these gender differences to improve our “super powers” of effective parenting and teaching with regard to learning.

The last few decades have produced a significant amount of brain research from multiple medical and psychological studies.  How does this impact those of us in the educational arena or the kingdom of parenthood?  For starters, we get to be the beneficiary of the wealth of scientific information on how the brain functions and learns.  This could potentially empower us to direct our teaching and parenting approaches to best get our students or children at every developmental age to respond and learn better.

In a tenth anniversary edition release Boys & Girls Learn Differently: A Guide for Teachers and Parents, Dr. Michael Gurian, a renowned family psychologist and New York Times bestselling author, along with Kathy Stevens, an educator that is an international presenter and coauthor of the best-selling book, present neuro-biology and classroom research together to reveal just how boys and girls are created differently and therefore learn differently.  Through a series of MRI brain scans as well as behavioral studies in and outside of the classroom, there is clear evidence of how the brain processes and retains information.  More significantly, are the differences in how boys’ and girls’ brains are different.  Just how different?  Chemically, structurally, developmentally, hormonally, functionally, and procedurally.  In other words, gender-specific brains have a lot in common but a significant amount that is different.  These differences contribute to how a boy or a girl can process events or information differently even when presented with the exact same circumstances or environment.

In the next part of this series, we will seek to answer the question how could understanding these differences increase our effectiveness as parents and educators?  Until then, you can find more information at

SPECIAL EVENT:  On October 23 beginning at 6:30 p.m., Davidson Academy is hosting a faculty and parent forum presented by the Gurian Institute.  Dr. Katey McPherson, Executive Director of the Gurian Institute, and Mr. Troy Kemp, Executive Direction of the National Center for the Development of Boys, will share research and practical information on how to better understand and deal with boys and girls as they cope with school and the world around them.  This event will provide dialogue and conversation about the neuro-biological and biochemical make-up of boys and girls, as well as cultural and societal expectations.  This is an opportunity for parents and teachers to gain a better understanding and practical tips on how to help students navigate through the academic, social, and emotional expectations placed upon them (ages preschool through high school).

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