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Boys and Girls are Different by Nature and Learn in Different Ways

Experts researching on how gender affects learning have found that boys and girls are different by nature and they learn in different ways.

However, they have suggested that this dissimilar nature should not make parents transfer their kids from co-educational to segregated schools, or vice-versa.

American educator Michael Gurian, at a conference at Newcastle University in NSW, said that the key to this complexity lies in teaching their teachers about the differences.

The parenting and family expert said that the traditional "nature versus nurture" fight has ended.

"What we really need to do is nurture the nature. New brain scanning technology clearly illustrates differences in the ways boys and girls react to stimuli, activity and rest, and debunks talk that these differences are simply the result of nurture," the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Gurian, as saying, in an AAP report.

"Studies on spatial awareness show that by four days of age, girl babies hold eye contact with their care-giver for longer than boys, while boys are already responding to movement and activity. Studies on vocabulary show that for every 20,000 words a girl uses, a boy uses between 7,000 and 10,000," he added.

Asked if these figures suggested that girls were really "smarter" than boys, Gurian said: "Girls tend to learn verbal literacy at younger ages than boys, and boys tend to be more spatially and kinesthetically able at younger ages than girls."

"Biological and brain differences favour more boys than girls in gross motor abilities at very young ages," he added.

Gurian, who is the founder of Colorado-based Gurian Institute for training and researching how gender affects learning, explained that both co-education and single sex education could work superbly for boys and girls provided teachers are taught about the differences.

"Both co-education and single sex educat ion can work wonderfully for their respective populations of learners. The key ingredient in both is teacher training," he said.

"When teachers immerse themselves in training on how boys and girls learn differently, they are able to help both boys and girls in both co-ed and single-sex classes. Teachers are brilliant people who just need training in how boys and girls learn differently," he added.

Gurian said that initially both boys and girls started off with natural leanings, and then an amalgamation of nurture and culture expanded on those leanings.

"Thus girls get more practice being directly empathic and using words to connect with feelings, and boys get more practice in aggression/competitive hierarchies and non-verbal affection," he said.

"Nature and nurture always work together," he said.


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