Monday, May 20, 2019 | ePaper

Boys vs girls' learning: Biological concerns

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Mili Saha :
Is that 'Brain' which makes differences?
Corpus callosum is the neural cable connecting the two hemispheres in the brain, and it is much thicker in girls, which clarifies that girls are better at connecting both hemispheres and using them together in cognitive processes. Also, girls have the denser language areas in brains than the boys have. Amygdala, the part of a brain that responds to emotional stimulation is larger in boys and thus, possibly explain the more aggressive behavior of boys. Again, the hippocampus is in charge of forming memory and consolidating, and it grows more in girls than boys during teenage years. This might be a plausible cause for girls' better language, arithmetic, and sequencing skills.
Or, 'Hormones'?
The areas of the brain affecting language, spatial memory, and motor coordination develop at a different rate, in a different order, and at a different development time in boys compared to girls. While the areas involved in language and excellent motor skills mature about six years earlier in girls than boys, the regions involved in spatial memory develop almost four years earlier in boys compared to girls (Bonomo, 2010). Although these differences become less prominent, teachers need to be aware of the differences in gender development. Testosterone is a sex hormone that drives the male body and promotes bone growth and muscle mass and lowers the male voice. Testosterone is linked to boys' inability to stay sedentary for long periods. It has also been connected to aggressive behavior and difficulties in processing emotion. Males and females both have testosterone, though, not only do boys have a far more significant amount, they receive as many as five to eight surges of it daily during adolescence (Medina, 2014).
Serotonin is a chemical messenger that facilitates communication between the brain and the body. It is also linked to processing emotions and acting as a calming mechanism. Serotonin assists in the regulation of body temperature, sensory perception and the onset of sleep. High levels of serotonin relate to high self-esteem and controlled muscle movements. Lower levels of serotonin produce irritability, impulsiveness, aggression and, in extreme cases, violence, and suicidal behavior.
The male brain secretes much less serotonin than the female brain, hence leading males to be more impulsive and fidgety.
Biological impacts: Boys vs. girls
The male brain is more devoted to the spatial-mechanical functioning and less to the emotive verbal operation. They access the primitive areas of the brain more often than the girls while performing the same types of activities or tasks. Male brain tends to renew or recharge while resting, though the female brain does so without rest states or sleep. Boys have less serotonin and less oxytocin, which makes them more impulsive and less likely to sit still to talk to someone. Boys structure or compartmentalize learning because they have less blood flow to the brain. Male brains are better suited to symbols, abstractions, and pictures. Boys, in general, learn higher maths and physics better than girls. Boys prefer video games for physical movement and destruction. Also, they get into more trouble for not listening, moving around, sleeping in class, and incomplete assignments than the girls.
Girls, on the other hand, are better in multitasking than boys because the female corpus callosum which is the nervous tissue used for signaling between the two halves of the brain is 26 percent larger than the male. Girls can adapt to the transition between lessons more quickly and are less apt to have attention span issues than boys. The neural connectors are more developed in the female brain, which enhance listening skills, memory storage, and tone of voice discrimination in girls. Girls make fewer impulsive decisions than boys due to a higher serotonin level. The female brain has 15 percent more blood flow than the male brain, allowing for enhanced integrated learning. Because girls have more cortical areas devoted to verbal functioning, they are better at the sensory memory, sitting still, listening, tonality, and the complexities of reading and writing (the skills and behaviors that are rewarded in school) (Carter, 2016).
Research shows boys have 35% less hearing than girls due to the cochlear length in the ear, focus on task and transition more slowly, and find talking about feelings difficult. However, they locate objects better than girls and develop spatial memory about four years earlier than girls. Boys consider conversation unnecessary and avoid self-revelation. Also, they dislike asking for help, avoid eye contact and prefer being alone while dealing with stress, though focus friendships on a shared activity (Sax, 2006).
Girls hear and discriminate between objects better than boys. They focus on faces or warm colors. Girls use the advanced portion of the brain to explain their feelings and develop language and excellent motor skills much earlier than boys. Multitasking and transitions are easy for the girls who find conversation with the other girls important. They believe in self-revelation and sharing as well as enjoy a close relationship with the teacher. Girls love to be faced, looked in the eye, and smiled at. Retain sensory details well. Also, they keep seeking friends' company when under stress and feel sick when threatened and confronted with issues.
Interestingly there is significant research indicating exercise can have a positive influence on hormone secretions and hence influence positive behavior (Bonomo, 2010).

(Mili Saha is an Assistant Professor of English at Jagannath University, currently studying at the University of Toronto , Canada).

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