Boys vs. girls in the classroom

Michael Gurian, MFA, CMHC Family Counselor, shares advice for parents on the differences between learning styles in boys and girls and the best ways to help optimize learning for each
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Boys vs. girls in the classroom

Boys learn differently from girls in so many ways. You can notice them in any classroom and you can notice them at home when you're helping them with homework. One way is that boys will spread out more; they'll tend to use more space. Right side of the male brain is the spacial side of the brain; girls have verbals on that side, males have no verbals on that side, we only have spacial. So when we start to learn, a number of boys, especially if they're very spacial, very boy-boy, will tend to use more space. They also will move around when they learn, and we may think, "Well come here for story time. Why aren't you sitting still? That's how you learn." But actually, a lot of girls learn very well that way, some boys learn that way. But there's a lot of boys who really have to move around to engage the brain; if they don't move around, the brain doesn't engage. Their brain goes through what we call a rest state. And a few girls this happens to, but most girls are doing learning things on both sides of the brain, especially verbal learning. Another way that boys learn is they don't tend to be as verbal in their learning. So that's both a blessing and a curse. The curse is that they don't tend to read as much, and we really need them to read more. But the blessing is once we realize that, then we start looking at boy-friendly classrooms and movement and these other things and it excites their learning; their test scores go up and they're able to learn much better. So if you have a boy or a girl, get something like "Boys & Girls Learn Differently," get something that trains you on how their brains work. That's the quickest way to switch the learning at home and at school to accommodate both.

Michael Gurian, MFA, CMHC Family Counselor, shares advice for parents on the differences between learning styles in boys and girls and the best ways to help optimize learning for each


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Michael Gurian, MFA, CMHC

Family Counselor & Author

Michael Gurian is the New York Times bestselling author of 25 books published in 21 languages. He provides counseling services at the Marycliff Center, in Spokane, Washington. The Gurian Institute, which he co-founded, conducts research internationally, launches pilot programs and trains professionals. Michael has been called "the people's philosopher" for his ability to bring together people's ordinary lives and scientific ideas.

 He has pioneered efforts to bring neuro-biology and brain research into homes, schools, corporations, and public policy. A number of his books have sparked national debate, including The Wonder of Girls, The Wonder of Boys, and Boys and Girls Learn Differently!, and The Minds of Boys.

Michael has served as a consultant to families, corporations, therapists, physicians, school districts, community agencies, churches, criminal justice personnel and other professionals, traveling to approximately 20 cities per year to keynote at conferences. His training videos (also available as DVDs) for parents and volunteers are used by Big Brother and Big Sister agencies in the U.S. and Canada.

 As an educator, Michael previously taught at Gonzaga University, Eastern Washington University, and Ankara University.  His speaking engagements include Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, Stanford University, Macalester College, University of Colorado, University of Missouri-Kansas City, and UCLA. His philosophy reflects the diverse cultures (European, Asian, Middle Eastern and American) in which he has lived, worked and studied.

Michael's work has been featured in various media, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today, Newsweek, Time, People Magazine, Reader's Digest, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes Magazine, Parenting, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, and on the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, PBS and National Public Radio.

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