The current education system may well be doing injustice to boys and putting girls in a position of advantage, particularly during the elementary and early secondary education, according to a scientist with extensive knowledge on the matter.
Robbin Gibb, Associate Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Lethbridge, made a presentation to interested Ponoka parents and educators on Friday, Nov. 20 at Ponoka Elementary School explaining how the natural difference in the pace of brain development between girls and boys may be allowing the girls to benefit more from the current system of education as compared to boys.
“Brain develops at different rates in boys and girls,” Prof. Gibb said in an interview just before her hours-long presentation hosted by Ponoka Parentlink Centre.
“As they start school, girls are already six months ahead of boys in terms of brain development,” she went on. “At the age of eight, the difference between the development rate increases to two years, the girls reach their maximum brain development at the age of 10 and boys only at the age of 15.”
With regard to how the education system benefits girls versus boys, Gibb said the education curricula were based on a model of students sitting and listening to teachers and this was working against boys, because unlike their slower brain growth rate, boys are much more physical than girls as they grow up and need to be mobile.
“Girls are more mature and sophisticated at those ages compared to boys, they are able to multi-task and learning by sitting and listening works for them,” she stressed. “But boys learn by doing, they are more focused on a single task, they want to build, they want to use their hands.”
Referring to some of the most negative consequences of this little known difference, Gibb said even parents may develop wrong perceptions of their own boys if they don’t understand why girls may be more receptive of education and therefore more successful at those earlier stages of education.
She was critical of the fact that nothing was being done to address the situation at higher levels of government, but insisted that even individual schools could introduce some practices, including giving up on sitting classes, to ensure that boys can benefit more from their time at school.