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The Biological Gender Differences that Influence Learning

with Dr. Michael Gurian,

Author of Boys and Girls Learn Differently

We've all sensed it--that boys and girls don't learn the same way or at the same rate. At last, there's
scientific data to support what parents and teachers have known all along: biological gender differences
exist. Dr. Michael Gurian, Author of Boys and Girls Learn Differently, charts some of the contrasts found
in boys and girls from the time they are toddlers until they are teens.

Based on his findings, do you think boys and girls should be treated differently in the classroom.


Girls: 99% of speech is comprehensible by age 3

Boys: 99% of speech is comprehensible by age 4 ½
Girls: After learning to stand, less likely to roam than boys
Boys: After learning to stand, shows more interest in roaming
Girls: At age 3, still more fatty tissue than muscle evident
Boys: At age 3, greater muscle mass already evident

Preschool and Kindergarten

Girls: Tends to build long, low stable structures of blocks

Boys: Tends to build higher structures to topple
Girls: On the playground, tends to congregate with other girls, welcomes newcomers
Boys: More individual running around, waits for newcomers to prove value or worth
Girls: Expresses emotions with words
Boys: Expresses emotions through action

Grades 1-3

Girls: Superior at seeing in low light, and hearing

Boys: Superior at certain visual tasks in bright light
Girls: Reads better and sooner than boys
Boys: Takes longer at reading mastery
Girls: Better at tests requiring listening to questions
Boys: Better at test requiring circling of answers
Girls: Comprise 5% of all hyperactive children
Boys: Comprise 95% of all hyperactive children

Grades 4-6
Girls: Better at learning a foreign language
Boys: Better at reading maps and deciphering directions
Girls: Primarily focused on relationships and communication
Boys: Primarily focused on action, exploration, and things
Girls: Solves math problems with language help
Boys: Solves math problems without talking
Girls: Watches one TV program for longer period
Boys: Channel surfs
Middle School

Girls: Estrogen generates greater activity in brain (first phase of menstruation), leading to increased
Boys: Testosterone, an aggression-inducing chemical, develops boys at ration of 40% protein to 14% fat
Girls: When quiet in class, often confident
Boys: When talkative in class, may be attention-seeking
Girls: 50% less likely to be held back a grade than boys the same age
Boys: 50% more likely to be held back a grade than girls of the same age

High School
Girls: Social hierarchies tend to be fluid
Boys: Social hierarchies tend to be stable
Girls: Higher-than-normal estrogen level produces certain intellectual disadvantages
Boys: IQ scores rise dramatically
Girls: Social acceptance sought on the basis of peer relationships and beauty
Boys: Social acceptance sought based on physical strength and athleticism


 Do you agree with the author?

 Do boys and girls learn differently and should they be treated differently in the classroom?