Thursday, November 01, 2007

Are Teaching And Learning Gender-Neutral?

However politically incorrect it may be to say so, it appears that research is confirming yet again the important, innate role played by gender in human socialization and development – this time in an educational context, specifically, in the effect gender has upon essential classroom learning dynamics.

An Associated Press story published on August 28, 2006 discussed the controversial findings of a recent study concerning the effect of gender on teaching and learning.

Here's the introduction:
“For all the differences between the sexes, here's one that might stir up debate in the teacher's lounge: Boys learn more from men and girls learn more from women.

That's the upshot of a study by Thomas Dee, an associate professor of economics at Swarthmore College and visiting scholar at Stanford University. His study was to appear today in Education Next, a quarterly journal published by the Hoover Institution.”

For the complete text of the article, click here.

My two cents:

There is, in fact, a clear advantage to same gender instruction. It's common sense that most teenagers will be less distracted in such an environment, and, without the pressure to impress the opposite sex, more comfortable and therefore more open and able to learn. In general, instructors also experience enhanced rapport and ease with students of the same gender. Males and females have significant, innate differences in the way they perceive and communicate; recently discovered gender-based adaptations in brain physiology underscore these important distinctions. To deny these critical differences is to ignore reality – and this is certainly no way to effectively refine either pedagogy or educational policy.

It's a terrible fact that, in America today, we are fast losing the educational race. It's time to take a very serious look at anything and everything that could have a marked impact on the quality, discipline, and productivity of our public schools, including single sex education, school uniforms, et al. The time has long since passed for us to choose, as individuals and as a nation, between the nonsense of political correctness and the imperative of bona fide excellence in education.

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