Gender Differences in Learning

I remember my post from a couple of years ago where I placed a disclaimer at the beginning asking for people to NOT email me with ‘the exception that disproves the rule’. The post was published in Dec 2019 (Teenager Emotions – Some Intriguing Research) and talked about how teenagers processed their emotions differently than younger children and most adults. Yes, we could always find an exception to the general findings — people are complex like that — but, that does not mean that a general relationship or trend isn’t evident.

I feel like I should probably start out this blog post with the same request.

I’m going to be talking about some research suggesting there are differences between how boys and girls learn. So, to qualify things before I receive comments or concerns, I am not saying that EVERY child will fall into this binary description. Children are diverse like the rest of our population and do not automatically fit into stereotyped boxes of ‘boys’ or ‘girls’. Even suggesting that there is this binary world of only two genders does not fully acknowledge the spectrum of gender identity in our world.

The messages I want to share with you today are meant to provoke thought about how CHILDREN learn differently. Feel free to even take the terms ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ away and think about them as ‘differences amongst children’.

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The Left-Handed Advantage

Being a southpaw, I loved writing this particular post. I had a smile on my face the entire time, so be warned — I’m riding a wave of superiority at the moment.

As great as left-handed people are — we have suffered in silence for a very long time. While we make up about 10% of the general population the world has been constructed for ‘righties’. We have had a rough ride:

I despised these desks in university
  • Scissors — Just try using your left hand. Go ahead and try — I dare you;
  • Door knobs — made to turn to the right which is physiologically easier for righties;
  • Automobile manual transmission gear shifts — unless you’re in England, Australia or a small number of other places;
  • 3-Ring Binders — impossible for lefties to write on the right side of the rings where most lined paper is designed because our wrist is actually hooked when we write;
  • Ball-point pens — don’t work well for lefties because we push the pen rather than pull it;
  • Computer keyboard number pad — always on the right side;
  • University theatre desks (see above) – arrgh!
  • Can openers – arrgh again!
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Ed Tech – Like the Weather, It Changes Constantly

With so many changes happening in educational technology, it’s particularly easy to get lost in all of the hype and hyperbole.  New technology in education really isn’t the goal — instead, technology should be the tool or innovation we might use to more fully achieve the learning potential of our students — increasing their engagement and personal empowerment.

Odd-Technology

Cool But Kind of Useless

Let’s be clear — some technology is just plain useless.  We need to be ever vigilant to not head down the rabbit hole of “shiny and new is always better”.  The tech needs to make sense.  It needs to make learning better, not just flashier.

I’m not an expert on ‘everything tech’ — probably never will be.  But, you don’t have to be an expert in technology to ask some of the important questions:

What does this technology ENABLE that wasn’t possible without it?

Does it truly INNOVATE the learning or just replace something that is ‘less-techy’?

Can it provide greater ACCESS for some students that wasn’t possible before the tech?

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