April 29, 2010

Teaching Boys & Other Kids Who Would Rather Build Forts All Day

This was one of my favorite sessions from the homeschool convention. Andrew Pudewa is an amazing, engaging speaker, and I already look forward to going to more of his sessions in the future.

The first part of the topic centered on neurological differences between boys and girls and how that relates to those of us trying to teach them. I took lots of notes during this session, so I may break this up into a couple of different posts. Don't assume that this is boring--it's actually quite fascinating! And if you're a mom/teacher of boys, I'm sure a lot of this isn't going to be news, but I really loved learning that there is concrete evidence for some of the things we intuitively know!

[ETA: Mr. Pudewa referenced a book called Why Gender Matters by Dr. Sax for the following information. He did give a caveat, saying that the research is very good and solid, but be aware, should you choose to read the book, that the worldview is not a Christian one, so there will be some differences if you are coming from that perspective.]

1. Boys hear differently than girls.
Boys' ears do not detect softer sounds as well as girls' ears--in other words, they literally do hear differently! So you know those annoying little taps and other noises boys make when they are supposed to be reading, writing, or listening? The ones that drive their moms and sisters crazy (or teachers, if they are in a classroom)? Boys don't even realize they are doing it! Take a boy sitting in the back of a classroom with a soft-spoken female teacher...he is back there tapping and banging away, literally trying to keep himself from dying of boredom because he can't hear what's going on!

2. Boys see differently than girls.
The optic nerve in females has more cells connected to cones; in men, the optic nerve has more cells connected to rods. This means that women see colors and textures better, while men see action and speed better. (This so explains card-making and the Super Bowl!) Even newborns are more able to detect this information, depending on whether they are male or female.

Boys draw verbs. Give kids time to draw, and the boys will come up with pictures depicting arrows flying, rockets blasting off, etc. They will probably only use one crayon. Girls, on the other hand, draw nouns. Houses, flowers, ponies, rainbows. So typically teachers will respond to the girls' drawings more favorably--it's easier to figure out what a girl has drawn, and she uses lots of colors. On the other hand, an adult usually has to ask a boy to explain his drawing (unless, like Tobin, he labels everything in the picture!)

When it comes to writing, boys use verbs and adverbs, while girls use nouns and adjectives. If you ask a boy, "Would you like me to help you add more detail to this paragraph?" he'll say, "Naw, I'm good." But if you ask him, "Would you like me to help you add more action?" he'll be more likely to continue writing!

3. Boys respond to stress differently than girls.
Fascinating--did you know the "fight or flight" response is true only of MALE animals? All the tests were done on male animals. Know why? Because all the females had too many hormones raging! Female animals all respond to stress by hiding.

Males regulate stress by standing up and moving around and by being in cooler temperatures. So when we tell boys, "Sit down and work on this hard math page!" we are giving them conflicting messages! Studies done have shown that gender-separated classrooms that allow boys to move freely (chairs optional) have much better results compared to mixed classrooms in which boys have to sit and behave the way that comes naturally to girls.

Females best regulate stress by lying still and getting warmer. If a girl is stressed, often you first have to find her! They are often hiding under blankets. (I had to laugh at this, because it's definitely true of my Charis.)

So now the thermostat wars are explained! 68 degrees is optimal for boys; 75 degrees for girls.

4. Boys react differently to pain than girls do.
When men experience pain, there is an increase in blood flow to their cortex. This allows them to have clarity--it helps in battle, yes? One wants our soldiers to be able to think clearly despite pain. When women experience pain, however, there is a decrease in blood flow to their cortex. It's that fuzzy feeling that allows for the survival of our species--if we remembered the pain of childbirth, we would never truly want to repeat it!

An interesting factoid to close with, and then I'll finish posting the rest of the notes at another time. Scientific studies about these neurological differences showed them to hold true across the board, no matter what age or what "orientation" participants claimed to be. Males responded one way, females another. More proof that God created us perfectly for the roles He wants us to fulfill!


Debi said...

Thank you thank you THANK YOU for sharing all this wonderful info from the homeschooling conference. I can't tell you how much I've learned from it and it has helped me tremendously with Kyle.

I've said it before...your kids are so lucky to have a Mom like you.

Luke said...

Looks like those points were taken directly from Why Gender Matters. Absolutely essential reading, in my opinion [smile].


Beverly said...

Luke--yes, Mr. Pudewa referenced this book--I should mention it in my post. Thanks!

As For Me and My House said...

Love it! Also thanks for your words of encouragement to me about my posts....and Boden is 9 1/2 months old now.

taylordi said...

Very interesting and informative! Thanks for sharing. I knew some but not all like the tapping. I just read a book called "Disconnected Kids" and the author talked about the difference in girls and boys brains. Girls have a wider "bridge" bewteen the right and left parts of the brain, one of the reasons more boys are diagnosed with ADHD and autism. Looks like I need to read this book as well.

lisa @ fulfilling my purpose said...

Thank you for all this great info, Beverly. I'm going to send the links to my hubby so he can read them. I want to discuss them with him :-)