Does Gender Play a Role in Determining Academic Success?
We all know the obvious difference in boys and girls. Typically, we associate boys with being rougher than girls and spending much of their time playing rambunctiously and getting dirty while most girls prefer to be subdued and tidy. But is that the only dissimilarity in gender? What about school work and academic performance along with academic success? Can gender be a predominating factor in determining a child’s IQ level? Is there a legitimate difference in boys and girls when determining academic ability? And, does gender help determine any level of academic success? Some might say that these are some pretty absurd questions but others who have taught both boys and girls in any realm of subjects, on any level could tell you that there is probably some relevance to that question. Those who have studied in both the field of psychology and education could tell you that there is a definitive link in gender to academic performance however; arguably whether gender plays a role in obtaining any level of academic success is being examined further by many academic researchers. In this paper, I will discuss several articles, a book, and one T.V. report shedding light on what some say is problematic to the future progress of boys and detrimental to our culture. So, the question remains: Does gender really affect our capacity to learn or predetermine our level of academic achievement? These studies and statistics from several resources I have outlined show that gender is, inevitably, a measurable factor when discussing classroom learning styles and teaching methods. One study conducted by Thomas Bartlett and published in The Chronicle of Higher Education, titled The Puzzle of Boys, discusses the difference in learning styles among boys and girls. Bartlett raises the same question most academic researchers have examined in recent years which is: What makes boys learn differently than girls? He points out that “school is not conducive to the way boys learn.” (Bartlett, 2009) He then elaborates that boys are motivated differently than girls and that ultimately learning is affected. Bartlett includes the research of Michael Gurian’s book The Wonder of Boys which discusses boys’ learning associated with their genetic make-up. In his article, Bartlett acknowledges Gurian’s thought on “boy biology” needing to be examined and understood by parents and teachers alike if they want to aid in the success of young men. Gurian’s theories are based on scientific data drawn from neuroscience research which was completed by others but is also backed up by his own successful programs. Although Michael Gurian has some documented success with his own curriculum, there have been some to try to disprove his theories like William Pollack, author of Real Boys. Bartlett’s article discusses Pollack’s views on how he refutes Gurian’s belief that there is much difference in emotional need and/or development between boys and girls. He discusses the various roles that educators, parents, friends, and society plays in raising a boy to be a man. Pollack also believes that the overall development of boys to men is “less rooted in biology”. (Bartlett, 2009) In his book, Real Boys, Pollack contends that boys express their emotions differently than girls due to the social factors surrounding them. He explains that society has cultivated this idea of what a man is suppose to be and has seemingly followed it up with marketing tactics and media gambits to try and reinforce society’s false perception of masculinity. This alone has remained detrimental to our young boys. Another book addressed in Bartlett’s article is The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men written by Christina Hoff Sommers. In her book, Sommers acknowledges the existence of a “gender gap” in our many levels of educational systems and suggest that significant attention needs to be displayed to...
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