Sunday, August 26, 2007

boys and girls

I am currently reading Why Gender Matters by Leonard Sax. It's been very interesting to me to learn about new brain research related to the differences between boys and girls. I grew up through the time when gender neutrality was advocated and the reigning idea was that girls and boys are different because they are raised differently. Working with children for over ten years has taught me that there are clear advantages to understanding subtleties between the genders. Recently at a faculty meeting, several student leaders were asked to present their ideas about the discipline procedures in our Upper School. When asked how a student should be approaced who has violoated a rule the young man on the panel said definitively that the student should be reprimanded in front of his friends because no one wants to be laughed at by his friends. It was the involvement of the friends that would deter him from breaking the rule again. The young woman on the panel said that she would think that students should be approached before or after class, away from their classmates, so as not to be embarassed. The girls, in general, are more focused on the teacher's opinion of her and would be motivated to follow the rules in the future for the sake of improving her relationship with the teacher.
So, what does all of this have to do with technology? Being even more aware of gender differences, I hope to consciously seek opportunities to appeal to the boys' need for visual stimulation, perhaps to offset hearing differences, and the boys' interest in discussing literature in objective ways. The girls will be more interested, and have more ease, in relating to characters and seeking ways to succeed without competing or risking looking bad in front of others. The boys will do better with group activities and the girls will be more successful working individually. Some of the technologies that I am interested in using more in my classes have the potential of appealing to both and the flexibility to serve the interests and the abilities of all.
Finally, while the generalities may seem even more obvious, I will particularly strive to serve and appreciate the individual personalities that each of my student's brings.

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