Posts Tagged ‘Teaching Girls’

Why do Boys Score Better than Girls at Maths?

July 31, 2012

At a time when girls are outscoring boys in most subject it is surprising to me that boys still maintain the edge in math. A recent study explains why:

From an early age, boys tend to take a more impulsive approach to math problems in the classroom, which might help them get ahead of girls in the long-run, suggests the latest study to touch on the gender gap in math.

The research claims girls may tend to favor a slow and accurate approach — often computing an answer by counting — while boys may take a faster, but more error-prone tack, calling out an answer from memory. The difference in strategies seems to benefit girls early in elementary school but swings in favor of boys by middle school.

“In our study, we found that boys were more likely to call out answers than girls, even though they were less accurate early in school,” Drew Bailey, who led the study, said in a statement. “Over time, though, this practice at remembering answers may have allowed boys to surpass girls in accuracy.”

The University of Missouri study followed 300 students from first grade to sixth grade. During those first two years, the boys called out more answers in class than the girls but also had more wrong answers. Girls were more often right, but answered fewer questions and responded more slowly, according to the university. By sixth grade, the boys were still answering more problems than the girls and were also getting more correct.

Click on the link to read Should We Include Feminism in the Curriculum?

Click on the link to read Arguments For and Against Single-Sex Education

Click on the link to read The Perfect Example of Courage and Self-Respect

Should We Include Feminism in the Curriculum?

July 12, 2012

I believe that we should concentrate on the things that make us alike, not our differences. There may have been a time when ‘feminism’ warranted being in the curriculum, but I believe those days have passed. Instead, I believe we should concentrate on mutual respect.

Ashley Lauren, writing for disagrees:

Feminism should be taught in school.

In every class from English to history, math to science, parenting to auto mechanics, there is room for feminism. It could be something as grand as teaching about women’s roles in history to something as simple as asserting that girls can work on cars, too, but it should be a part of every class, every day.

Historically, women — and other oppressed groups — have been marginalized. Literally. We have been relegated to boxes in the margins of textbooks as if to say, “This is what the women were doing back at home while the men were off at war.  It fits into this little box which must mean that it wasn’t that important and it won’t be on the test.” Imagine what that does to the self-esteem of the girls seated in the classroom.

Teaching feminism is important for many, many reasons. First, studying feminism can “reinvigorate girls’ sense of self-worth and to help pupils think about the gender implications of their language and image.” Second, as of this 2008 study, 84% of girls said that they are under an enormous amount of pressure to dress the right way. That was up from 75% in 2000. Third, and perhaps scariest of all, is that girls are starting to accept sexual assault and sexual harassment at school as a way of life.

Arguments For and Against Single-Sex Education

July 8, 2012

I am glad that I teach both boys and girls in my Grade 3 classroom.  I find it more challenging and the social dynamic can be quite fascinating. At the same time, I can understand why many prefer a single-sex classroom to a co-ed one.

Below are some popular arguments put forwards in favour of single-sex classrooms:

  • Some parents don’t want their children to be in mixed-gender classrooms because, especially at certain ages, students of the opposite sex can be a distraction.
  • Leonard Sax and others agree that merely placing boys in separate classrooms from girls accomplishes little. But single-sex education enhances student success when teachers use techniques geared toward the gender of their students.
  • Some research indicates that girls learn better when classroom temperature is warm, while boys perform better in cooler classrooms. If that’s true, then the temperature in a single-sex classroom could be set to optimize the learning of either male or female students.
  • Some research and reports from educators suggest that single-sex education can broaden the educational prospects for both girls and boys. Advocates claim co-ed schools tend to reinforce gender stereotypes, while single-sex schools can break down gender stereotypes. For example, girls are free of the pressure to compete with boys in male-dominated subjects such as math and science. Boys, on the other hand, can more easily pursue traditionally “feminine” interests such as music and poetry. One mother, whose daughter has attended a girls-only school for three years, shares her experience on the GreatSchools parent community: “I feel that the single gender environment has given her a level of confidence and informed interest in math and science that she may not have had otherwise.”


Below are some arguments put forward by critics of single-sex classrooms:

  • Few educators are formally trained to use gender-specific teaching techniques. However, it’s no secret that experienced teachers usually understand gender differences and are adept at accommodating a variety of learning styles within their mixed-gender classrooms.
  • Gender differences in learning aren’t the same across the board; they vary along a continuum of what is considered normal. For a sensitive boy or an assertive girl, the teaching style promoted by advocates of single-sex education could be ineffective (at best) or detrimental (at worst). For example, a sensitive boy might be intimidated by a teacher who “gets in his face” and speaks loudly believing “that’s what boys want and need to learn.”
  • Students in single-sex classrooms will one day live and work side-by-side with members of the opposite sex. Educating students in single-sex schools limits their opportunity to work cooperatively and co-exist successfully with members of the opposite sex.
  • At least one study found that the higher the percentage of girls in a co-ed classroom, the better the academic performance for all students (both male and female). Professor Analia Schlosser, an economist from the Eitan Berglas School of Economics at Tel Aviv, found that elementary school, co-ed classrooms with a majority of female students showed increased academic performance for both boys and girls. In high school, the classrooms with the best academic achievement were consistently those that had a higher percentage of girls. Dr. Schlosser theorizes that a higher percentage of girls lowers the amount of classroom disruption and fosters a better relationship between all students and the teacher.
  • The American Council on Education reports that there is less academic disparity between male and female students overall and a far greater achievement gap between students in different racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups, with poor and minority students children faring poorly. Bridging that academic chasm, they argue, deserves more attention than does the gender divide.
  • Single-sex education is illegal and discriminatory, or so states the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) . In May 2008, the ACLU filed suit in federal court, arguing that Breckinridge County Middle School’s (Kentucky) practice of offering single-sex classrooms in their public school is illegal and discriminatory. The school doesn’t require any child to attend a single-sex class, yet the suit argues that the practice violates several state and federal laws, including Title IX and the equal Educational Opportunities Act.


Do Girls Perform Better in Single-Sex Classrooms?

October 17, 2011

I am glad that I teach both boys and girls in my Grade 5 classroom.  I find it more challenging and the social dynamic can be quite fascinating.  However, for a while now, there has been a groundswell of support for single-sex classrooms.  People believe that they are more beneficial for students.

GIRLS can be “marginalised” and often take a back seat to boys in co-educational classrooms, the head of one of WA’s most elite all-girl schools says.

Methodist Ladies’ College principal Rebecca Cody has reignited the single-sex school debate, saying the “female voice is more likely to be marginalised” in mixed-sex classrooms.

Her comments come amid calls for the state’s public students to be given the choice of single-sex education.

All WA public schools are co-ed.

Writing for the next edition of Whichschool? Magazine Ms Cody said there were many “positive academic, attitudinal and social effects of a single-sex education.

“For example, higher levels of engagement, improved achievement and behaviour are just a few of the notable outcomes.

“Similarly, in this context girls are more likely to excel in non-traditional disciplines such as science, technology and mathematics and without the presence of boys feel more empowered to take responsible risks, for example in outdoor education.

“In a mixed-classroom environment, the female voice is more likely to be marginalised as girls tend to take a back seat, allowing boys to speak up. A girls’ school allows students to relax and interact more readily.”

It has not been my experienced that the boys marginalise the girls in a mixed-classroom.  I do however think it is vital for teachers of such schools to do their utmost to ensure that the social dynamic in their classroom is healthy and that all students have the opportunity to express themselves as individuals.

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