Boys Education - Jamaica Teachers' Association

Boys Education - Jamaica Teachers' Association

Boys Education and Brain Research PAPER PRESENTED AT JAMAICA TEACHERS ASSOCIATION CONFERENCE ON BRAIN BASED EDUCATION APRIL 9 2015 ROSEHALL HILTON CHRISTOPHER CLARKE PHD Despite years of research pointing to the crisis in boys education specifically and male marginalization generally we have done very little more than pay lip service to the situation. We continue to ignore this ticking time bomb to our own peril. For over 40 years the Western Hemisphere has been experiencing the phenomenon of academic underperformance

among its male population. Research in the last 25 years including that done in Jamaica( Miller, Evans, Bailey, Clarke) has sought to explain the reasons for it( eg, gender socialization) What prospects does brain-based education hold for a solution? OBJECTIVES Data on Performance Attempts to address phenomenon

What is known about Brain Research Strategies to improve performance of Boys Performance Data for Jamaica School Type BOYS GIRLS PRIMARY 1367

371 ALL-AGE 813 273 PRIMARY and JUNIOR HIGH 1146 339 Source: MOE Table 2: Mathematics and English Performance by Gender (2012) SEX

English A only Mathematics only English and Maths % of Grade 11 Cohort Female 5115 1061 4329

46.4 Male 2488 1066 2414 28.7 In 2012 CSEC Examinations 9464 females obtained grades 1-3 in English compared to 4902 males

5410 females obtained grades 1-3 in Maths, only 3480 males did 7766 females and 3883 males passed five or more with English and/Maths; 2205 males passed five or more with English and Maths, 4178 females did The pattern is similar for GOILP, GFLT, GSAT What has been tried

Single sex schools (at secondary level); no new ones in at least 60 years Boys Day Tweaking teaching strategies (adding music, more interactive) Pull Outs (separating gender for discussion subjects e.g. literature

Separating genders at Grade 6 mentorship Neuroscience and Gender Differences Neuroscientists have identified very few reliable differences between boys and girls brains Boys brains are about 10 percent larger than girls and boys brains finish growing a year or two later during puberty (Lenroot et al, 2007), These reflect physical maturation more than mental development On average boys and girls differ in self regulatory behavior with girls showing better ability to sit still, pay attention, and delaying gratification. While we know that selfregulatory abilities depend on the prefrontal cortex, neuroscientists have so far been unable to show that this area develops earlier or is more active in girls (Barry et al 2004)

The latest high-resolution MRI studies reveal small differences in brain lateralization or sidedness(Liu, Stufflebeam, Sepulcre et al (2009) Baby boys are modestly more active than girls Toddler girls talk one month ealier on average than boys Boys appear more spatially aware than girls There is no significant difference in corpus callosum size between males and females(Bishop and Whalsten, 1997). Corpus callosum is that white matter tract that provides most of the connections between left and right cerebral hemispheres Gender gaps in academic performance are shaped more by environmental factors than by brain anatomy and physiology Mental ability is not hardwired into the brain. Abilities develop in a social cultural context that includes each childs opportunities, sense of identity, health and nutrtion etc.

Nutrition, chemical exposure, parenting style WHAT THEN? Start early to nurture the skills and attitudes that will better prepare both genders for the modern world Make classrooms places where students potential is broadened Challenge gender stereotypes on both sides and broaden the options for boys Appreciate the range of intelligences ala Howard Gardner; multi-modal teaching benefits both genders Strengthen spatial awareness. Spatial cognition is for understanding fraction, proportionality, calculus, geography, physics etc Engage boys with the word through songs, dialogue, stories and all kinds of texts Get boys involved in non-athletic extracurricular activities We need to examine the way we define manhood

We need college trained teachers at the EC level MOE Policy on Boys Education What are some of your ideas for addressing the crisis? THANKS FOR YOUR ATTENTION AND FEEDBACK

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