A. Grace Martin

Author, Student Teacher, Optimist and Promoter of Self-Empowerment

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Gender Neuroscience, Stereotyping, and UDL

Posted by agracemartin on January 29, 2015 at 3:30 PM

Should we give teenage boys and girls different high school curricula based upon brain development differences?

I don't believe so.


The following in my personal response to a reading assignment for my Science Curriculum and Instruction class. The reading was an excerpt from "Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist's Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults"


I believe that gender stereotyping places limiting labels upon students. Since there is no causal link between cognitive abilities and gender-based brain development, I do not think that any special treatment should be given to either gender. While generalizations can be made, it is dangerous for us to begin stereotyping based upon these generalizations. Even if the research says that boys develop good attention, planning, and organizational skills more slowly, that does not mean that adolescent males are incapable of these tasks. Even though the author of the article that we read predicts that girls could benefit more from earlier math and science courses (because they reach specific levels of cognitive development before boys), I disagree with considering any gender-based high school curricula.

 

Brain development is a product of both nature and nurture. Nurturing teachers can reduce classroom stresses to establish a positive learning environment in which habits can be taught to overcome developmental delays and place every student on an equal playing field.

 

I think that it is important as an educator to understand the differences between neural development of boys and girls, but that this understanding should be used to integrate teaching strategies into a universal design for learning. All students could benefit from a teacher instructing students to put a particular sheet in a particular section of their binder to alleviate student disorganization. A teacher who gives exact schedules and reminds students not only about due dates but the content involved in each assignment is not just appealing to disorganized students but is setting clear and consistent expectations. I think that it is unfair for any teacher to require rapid decision-making of their students, not only because boys’ frontal lobe develops more slowly than girls’, but also because students with learning disabilities are put at a huge disadvantage if you require a quick decision. A universal design for learning differentiates instruction to give all students an equal playing field, and that often means more time allotted for students to think and process information.

 

One thing that I learned from this article was that males have more neural connections within the two hemispheres of their brains while females have more connectivity between hemispheres. The left and right hemisphere connections in females help them to change tasks more quickly, and understand concepts holistically. I think that good classroom management can also overcome this apparent adolescent male disadvantage. Teachers can cue students and give them countdowns before transition times, which prepare all students for a change in setting. Then, if a teacher wants students to see the big picture of a concept, it may be prudent to use graphic organizers and deliberately “spell out” the related ideas with a multimodal approach. Multimodal teaching strategies appeal to all learning styles (visual, auditory, read/write, and kinesthetic), again leveling the field in a differentiated classroom.

 

 

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Reply EllBove
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