Boys and girls are different – nurture the nature

AAP 6 July 2007
Boys and girls have different brains, and learn in different ways, but that’s no reason for parents to switch their kids from co-educational to segregated schools, or vice-versa. The key lies in teaching their teachers about the differences, says American educator Michael Gurian, keynote speaker at a conference this week at Newcastle University in NSW. The parenting and family expert said the old “nature versus nurture” argument was over. “What we really need to do is nurture the nature,” said Mr Gurian, founder of the Colorado-based Gurian Institute for training and researching how gender affects learning.”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. “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 7000 and 10,000.” Asked if this meant girls were really “smarter” than boys, as some parents suggest, Mr 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.”…”Both co-education and single sex education can work wonderfully for their respective populations of learners,” he told AAP. “The key ingredient in both is teacher training.