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What's Going on With Boys Brains

Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 7 months ago

A few facts from Michael Gurian's Book The Minds of Boys: Saving Our Sons from Falling Behind in School and Life (2005).

  • "Of children diagnosed with learning disabilities, 70 percent are boys.
  • Of children diagnosed with behavioral disorders, 80 percent are boys.
  • According to the U.S. Department of Education, our sons are an average of a year to a year and half behind girls in reading and writing skills. (Girls are behind boys in math and science but to a lesser degree.)
  • Of high school dropouts, 80 percent are young males.
  • Young men now make up less than 44 percent of our college population." (p.22)


Gurian talks about what boys need to succeed in school. He says that boys often learn better when they are able to move and participate in physical activity instead of having to sit still and be quiet. He says that male brains need more spatial-mechanical stimulation like diagrams, pictures etc. as opposed to just experiencing a topic through lectures. It is harder for them to hear so they respond better when they are closer to the speaker and also when they are in a room with better light. He writes, "The male and female brains don't experience light in the same way. Although all children benefit from lots of light, boys see better in bright light and thus especially benefit from lots of light in which to work, read, play, and learn" (94). He encourages the use of music because it is "a whole-brain activity-it engages both the left and right hemispheres at the same time" (101) and it can help boys learn. He also emphasized hands-on learning for boys and the fact that boys like to work in teams and like competition. That competition can be used to encourage learning.


In Gurian's book Boys and Girls Learn Differently! a Guide for Teachers and Parents (2001) he discusses Gardner's Multiple Intelligences and says that we can see differences between boys and girls with five of them: linguistic, musical, logical-mathematical, spatial, and bodily-kinesthetic. Girls tend to be stronger in the linguistic intelligence and boys in the logical-mathematical intelligence. Both do well with the musical intelligence and even more so when they have musical experiences when they are young. Boys are stronger in the spatial and bodily-kinesthetic intelligences. Sometimes, though, because boys are more inclined to move and take up more space in the classroom, they can get in trouble for using those intelligences. While generally girls and boys might have different strengths in these intelligences, that doesn't mean that either gender can't improve on the intelligences that they may be weaker in. For example, girls have been increasing in the logical-mathematical intelligence with the emphasis that has been placed on helping girls succeed in math and science.  The same could be done for boys with the linguistic intelligence. Gurian writes, "A brain formed toward a certain kind of intelligence (for instance, bodily-kinesthetic) will probably never be as good at another as a brain already formed toward that other (say, linguistic), but both brains can get better at all intelligences with proper stimulation" (p. 52-53).



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