Schools Learning about Boys; Light, Sound Temperatureare Variables

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), October 10, 2005 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Schools Learning about Boys; Light, Sound Temperatureare Variables

Byline: Karen Goldberg Goff, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

If a boy is daydreaming in his elementary school class, it's not because he is bored. If he is fidgeting in his seat, it's not because he is nervous. If it seems as though he would rather sleep than study, he's probably not even really tired.

These are the findings of two recent books that explain the vast differences in boys' and girls' brains and how they affect learning.

"There are hard-wired differences in how boys and girls learn," says Leonard Sax, a Maryland physician, psychologist and author of the book "Why Gender Matters: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know About the Emerging Science of Sex Differences."

"The more teachers know this, the better off we'll be," he says.

Parents and educators have long held the theory that boys and girls may distract one another in the classroom. However, Dr. Sax's book, along with "The Minds of Boys: Saving Our Sons from Falling Behind in School and Life" by Michael Gurian and Kathy Stevens, sheds light on the growing brain science as it relates to education.

Dr. Sax, also the executive director of the National Association for Single-Sex Public Education, says that over the last two decades, great strides have been taken by educators to make sure girls get equal educational opportunities.

Now it is time to look at where the boys are, both authors say. Mr. Gurian, a family therapist and author of more than a dozen books, points out that the majority of children diagnosed with learning disabilities today are male, 80 percent of high school dropouts are boys, and boys are now in the minority on college campuses.

Dr. Sax's book draws on dozens of medical studies that show the differences between boys' and girls' brains are subtle, yet profound. For example:

mNervous system differences mean classroom temperature and lighting matter.

"Girls learn best in a room that is about 75 degrees," says Dr. Sax. "Boys learn best in a room that's a little cooler, about 69 degrees. If you go to any of the boys' schools around here, you'll notice that the rooms are cool. One headmaster told me, 'If we turn up the heat, the boys will go to sleep.'"

As for lighting, girls learn best in a room that is lit with "warm" lighting, boys with "cool" tones, Dr. Sax says.

"The eye is organized differently," he says. "We have a very reasonable possibility of improving performance for boys 20 percent just by changing lamps."

*Girls hear better than boys. Dr. Sax cites a study of 60 newborns that found the girls' hearing was 80 percent better than the boys' hearing.

Those differences get bigger as the children get older, he says.

"Some boys who are diagnosed with [attention deficit hyperactivity disorder] in a coed classroom don't need medication," says Dr. Sax. "They just need teachers who speak louder."

Mr. Gurian says the recent mapping of the human genome has had a big impact for those who study gender and learning.

"We know that in the female brain, most of the girls have double the verbal centers," Mr. Gurian says. "In the male brain, there is not as much sensory detail."

There are steps parents and teachers can take to optimize learning for boys, both authors say.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Schools Learning about Boys; Light, Sound Temperatureare Variables


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?