In this day of standardized, one-size-fits-all education, these findings should amaze and astonish us. Yet, as you read, I know that many of you are nodding your heads in agreement. Boys are, for the majority, unhappy in school. They are falling behind, being expelled, and dropping out at staggering rates.
Teaching Boys in the Montessori Environment: Part One
Understanding Neuroscience and Hormonal Learning Differences
A 2014 report from the Third Way, a US centrist think tank, states that:
- by kindergarten, girls are more attentive, better behaved, more sensitive, persistent, flexible, and independent than boys. The gap grows in later years.
- by 8th grade, 48% of girls receive As and Bs, compared to 31% of boys
In their book, The Minds of Boys: Saving Our Sons from Falling Behind in School and Life, authors Gurian and Stevens contend that boys are:
- 4.5 times more likely than girls to be expelled in preschool
- 6–18 months behind girls in reading and writing at all elementary school levels
- 80% of discipline and behavioral problems in schools
- 80% of the school-age children on Ritalin
- get up to 70% of the Ds and Fs on report cards
All of this begs us to ask why this is happening and how we can make a difference. Before we tackle these important questions, we must look at the differences in how boys and girls learn. The below chart is taken from modern neuroscience’s study of male and female brains. The differences are striking.
|Section of the Brain||Function||More active in…|
|Left hemisphere||Verbal abilities||Female|
|Right hemisphere||Spatial/Mechanical Abilities||Male|
|Brain Stem, Cerebellum||Physical responses, action||Male|
|Cerebral Cortex||Judgment, impulse control, attention||Female|
|Limbic system||Emotion, bonding||Female|
|Parietal lobe||Spatial processing, tracking||Male|
|Corpus collosum||Cross-talk between hemispheres||Female|
|Temporal lobes||Speaking, listening, reading||Female|
|Basal Ganglia System||Sense of calm, well being||Female|
|Gray matter||Project focus||Male|
Male and female hormonal differences also play a key role in how males and females work and live.
More Active in Males
- Male physical characteristics
- Sex drive
- Exploratory behavior
Vasopressin, Cortisol, MIS
- Large muscle development
More Active in Females
- Female physical characteristics
- Bonding, attachment
- Cooperation, collaboration
- Pair bonding
- Maternal behavior
- Feeling good
In a future blog, we will look at ways we can help boys who are physically active and always on the go to learn, grow, and feel that they belong in school.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Monday, November 30, 2015.