We’ve all heard the famous line: men are from Mars, women are from Venus, but when it comes to children in school are the girls’ and boys’ brains really wired so differently that they appear to come from separate planets?
Science tells us that they are. Boys and girls not only think differently and act differently but also learn differently.
There are scientific reasons behind the thinking that girls are better with language while boys succeed in spatial reasoning. There really are some physical differences between boy and girl brains that significantly impact both genders’ educational successes. Ever wonder why girls tend to be able to sit still longer, listen better and retain more information?
The neural connectors in the temporal lobes are stronger, the hippocampus is larger and the prefrontal cortex is more active in girls’ brains. These neural connectors are in charge of various functions in the brain such as storing information, listening skills and differentiation between tones of voices. This leads to girls being able to pay attention and retain information longer than boys, typically. The hippocampus is also a storage site for information, particularly regarding language, giving girls another one-up in that area.
The activity level of the prefrontal cortex determines behavior control and several hormone levels, such as serotonin, both of which give girls the ability to make less impulsive, rash decisions than boys. It’s no wonder they are able to sit still in a lecture longer than their boy classmates. Girl brains are pre-wired to excel in language, writing, listening and impulse control.
Boy brains use approximately half the same space that girls use for language and communication. All that space is taken over by spatial functioning, meaning boys enjoy moving things or even conceptualizing the movement of things. On top of this, boys’ brains are programmed to have what neurologists refer to as rest states, a sort of recharging of the boys’ mindsets for learning. This is seen often: the boy dozing off in class, the boy who can’t sit still in class, the boy who cannot seem to finish an assignment. These are all byproducts of a boy needing to go into a rest state to get his brain back on track. Boy brains lateralize activity, meaning they compartmentalize their learning, and therefore have a harder time multi-tasking and transitioning from one lesson to the next. (Which is why you can’t tell them to do their homework, clean their room and take out the trash. You have to tell them to: Do your homework. (When that task is finished…) Clean your room. (When that task is finished…) Take out the trash.
Boy brains are pre-wired to excel in spatial reasoning, compartmentalizing and problem solving, and they are labeled with ADD or ADHD far more than girls.
What if, in the end, it all comes down to science and the very biological/neurological set-up of the brain. It is not so much that girls and boys come from different planets, however, they do have vastly different ways of learning.