How Boys Learn…different than girls

(LFC Comment:Great article from one of our correspondents.  Contrary to many current thinking, it appears boys are truly different than girls.)


By Michelle Caskey

[COMMENTS FROM DONNA GARNER: My life has been centered around a father, three brothers, a husband, two sons, four grandsons, and multi-hundreds of boys whom I taught during my 33+ years as a classroom teacher. Based upon all of these experiences, the information below regarding the way boys/men learn seems valid to me. I also verified some of it by going to various medical resources, and what Dr. Leonard Sax reports appears to be accurate both medically and psychologically. Dr. Leonard Sax should know. He has his PhD in psychology and is an MD who has been continuously certified by the American Board of Family Medicine since 1989: ]
Excerpts from this article:
I just finished reading some eye-opening books by Dr. Leonard Sax:  Why Gender Matters and Adrift. I was amazed to learn that boys have many physical and mental differences from girls. These books include scientific evidence showing that they not only behave differently than girls, they also hear differently, see differently, think differently, and respond to stress differently.
The things boys can learn are very similar, but the way they go about learning is very different. Boys require a very different educational environment and teaching approach if we are going to help them reach their full potential…
Males have more rods in their eyes versus cones. Rods help us to see distance and speed. Females have more cones than rods. Cones help us to see color and shape. Because of this difference, males tend to draw verbs with little color variation in their pictures while girls tend to draw nouns with lots of different colors.
When asked to draw a picture, Sally will draw a house with people and flowers and lots of pretty colors. Steve will draw a tornado which is knocking down a house – and his picture will look like a large black swirl.
·        Do not expect boys to draw something recognizable or to draw something with lots of colors. When we find fault in this way, they begin to think that art is for girls and not for them.
·        Allow them to draw verbs and to do it in a way that is fast and furious.
·        Don’t hold eye contact with a boy unless you’re disciplining him.
Baby girls can hear ten times better than boys, and this difference gets even worse as they get older. Boys can only hear every 3rd word or so of soft-spoken teachers. When they can’t hear what their teacher is saying, they tend to drift off – getting some boys the incorrect diagnosis of ADHD.
Boys also tend to make little noises wiggling and tapping pencils which are irritating to girls – but they don’t even realize they are making them.
·        Speak more loudly with your sons than you normally would and be very expressive.
·        Use lots of voice fluctuation and hand motions to engage them.
·        While working with your son, sit down next to him, spread the materials out and look at them shoulder to shoulder.

…We don’t know all of the differences in how boys and girls think but we now know that their brains are arranged differently. We’ve all heard that we use the left side of our brain for verbal activities and the right side for art. Actually, we now know that this is only true in males.

Males who have a stroke on the left side of their brain lose 80% of their verbal ability. The verbal ability in females who have a stroke on the left side of their brain is much less impacted, proving that their verbal ability is spread across both sides of their brain.
There are many other differences in how male and female brains are arranged. For more details, check out Dr. Sax’s books.
·        Book learning is essential; but, without practical, hands-on experience, boys will hard a hard time grasping concepts that seem simple to us. They will disengage from their lessons.
·        Boys need real world experiences in their education which engage all of their senses. (But so do many women! I think of Wilbur Wright’s mother who taught him!)
·        Boys also need plenty of time outdoors.
·        Boys have a hard time processing their emotions. Don’t ask boys “How would you FEEL if…” questions. Ask them “What would you DO if…” questions.
·        Boys like to have at least some control over their environments. Put each day’s schoolwork into a folder and let them decide the order in which they will complete it.
·        Have boys draw maps based on clues in the book.
·        Assign articles from the daily newspaper.

·        Have them read books with strong male characters doing unpredictable things. Examples are My Side of the Mountain TrilogyWhere the Red Fern GrowsThe Indian in the CupboardTreasure Island. Mark Twain, Ralph Moody, Jules Verne, and GA Henty write great adventure books for boys!

Girls tend to underestimate their own abilities. Boys tend to overestimate their own abilities. They also enjoy taking risks much more than do girls. The more a young man takes risks the more favorably they are seen by their peers.
Danger itself gives boys a pleasant feeling of exhilaration as opposed to the fearful feelings it causes in girls. Moderate stress also helps them to perform better as adrenaline causes more blood to flow to their brain. Stress has the opposite effect on girls.
·        Boys respond well to a challenge if there are winners and losers.
·        A competitive team format works better than individual competitions because they don’t want to let their teammates down.
·        Participating in single-sex activities such as scouts or team sports are very good for your sons.
If your son seems to crave danger, take these necessary steps:
·        Give them lessons with a professional (i.e., skiing) to help them to more accurately evaluate their own abilities.
·        Supervise your child. Their risk is lower if they aren’t allowed to be alone with groups of peers because they will be less likely to try to “show off” for their friends if an adult is present.
·        Assert your authority – don’t argue with your son. Don’t negotiate. Just do what you have to do (i.e., lock up their bike.)
By the way, the optimum temperature for learning for boys is 69 degrees, while it is 74 degrees for girls. If you set the temperature so that it is comfortable for you, you may find your sons falls asleep or their minds wandering instead of focusing on their lessons…
Donna Garner

Categories: Uncategorized

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