Gender differences between Boys and Girls
It is widely accepted that there are significant gender differences in school children and that these differences can have a profound effect on the academic progress of individual students. A study by the Rowntree Foundation in 2007 suggested that boys outnumber girls by 20% as low achievers at GCSE, a worrying statistic for many parents!
Differences on a Superficial Level
These differences are wide-ranging and are the subject of continuing research. I intend to look at the situation from a more anecdotal perspective as a mathematics teacher in a UK school. On a superficial level, generally speaking, girls are more organized than boys, they tend to be more likely to bring correct equipment, complete homework on time and take better notes. With regard to notes, boys’ books tend to be considerably harder to interpret and boys use rulers more sparingly than their female counterparts. Of course, it is unfair to tar all male students with an untidy brush and there are plenty of young men who do not conform to this stereotype. Then there are plenty of young women who wouldn’t recognize a ruler if they were rapped on the knuckles with one (although this kind of practice is not recommended in the modern education system!)
Also read, 10 Ways to Stay Organized During the School Year.
Differences on an emotional level
Emotionally boys & girls respond to situations in fascinatingly different ways. Boys tend to be more competitive with each other and look to show off in front of their classmates. In contrast, girls are often less confident. In exam situations, this often means that boys are very gung-ho about the need for thorough revision. At the same time, girls will study hard and still second-guess themselves when they are waiting for their results. Clearly, the lack of focus on revision has a significant impact on exam success. However, please note that when it comes to official public exams, the boys tend to up their game.
Outcomes of the Experiment
Clearly, the education system has to recognize these differences. This is because the current system seems to favor the generally more methodical and diligent approach exhibited by female students. The question is, would it benefit to teach both the genders in a single-sex environment? Interestingly, this experiment was carried out recently in the school I work at. Instead of a top set and a second set, a boys’ top set and a girls’ top set were created with unexpected consequences. Freed from the distracting presence of the boys, the girl’s class exceeded expectations and began to perform significantly better.
The boy’s class did not fare so well, however, with previously well-behaved boys suffering from a decline in behavior. It was hard for the class to focus and it distracted easily. It appeared that some of the boys who had previously tried to show off to the girls how clever they were, had now decided to show off to the boys how childish they could be. There is no simple solution to address the inherent differences between boys and girls. And it is essential that parents work in tandem with schools to help support those students who are not reaching their potential whether male or female.
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