Location: Arizona, USA
Position: Past Teacher/ Girlfriend
Understanding: The Road to Illumination
As educators, and parents it may seem easier to become frustrated with a boy’s difficulty with reading or dislike of reading compared to girls his age. This is understandable, but understanding may be the key to enlightenment.
We Already Know They are Different
Researchers have known for a long time that there are certain areas of the brain where language centers, and that girls seem to have better skills at abstract language processing than boys. However, it seems that scientist have found at interesting brain level differences that can help explain this, as stated in the article Boys’ and Girls’ Brains are Different: Gender Differences Appear in Biology at Science Daily.
Science Explains Why and How
Using MRIs, the researchers studied 31 boys and 31 girls of varying age during reading and language activities. They made a link between reading performance and activation in the certain areas of the brain. They preformed these tests in two different ways, reading without hearing, and hearing without reading.
They discovered an amazing difference when they did this in how male’s brains process language differently than females. The females performed well as more language areas of the brain became activated, where as the male’s brains performed better when other areas became more activated. When read to, the auditory area activation dictated performance and when reading themselves, visual area activation is what determined success. This means that boys process language and reading through a more sensory route than girls.
What Does This Mean?
In school, children will often be asked verbally to answer a question about something they have just visually read, as well as be tested in written form on something they heard spoken out loud (the latter very prominent in high school and higher education). Using the information just presented, you can see how boys may be put at a disadvantage in language and reading areas and information retention. An naturally, a person may find unsavory a task they are told they should be good at but still have trouble with despite best efforts.
As an educator, finding new ways to make your students successful and new ways for them to learn better is an ongoing quest. So knowing the above information, how can you adjust your classroom be make language activities easier and more enjoyable for the boys?