Gender differences in the classroom

JoAnn Deak, PhD Psychologist & Author, explains how boys and girls learn differently in school and why they are treated differently in the classroom
Gender Differences in the Classroom
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Gender differences in the classroom

One of the topics I like to address is why are boys and girls treated differently in the classroom. I do love to give simple answers. So how about this one? They are different. What I mean by that is that we know from studies that testosterone actually causes a human being to need to move more and new research is showing that there is a testosterone cycle. How do you like that? Testosterone cycle. In the morning after full awakening, boys have a surge of testosterone. When that happens, it is harder to focus on details and sit still. So if I were teaching in a coed classroom, I would want to put a very active period in the morning for the boys. But it is also not bad for the boys because we have research too that if education has more movement in it, movement actually enhances neurotransmitters in the brain. So it is good for the girls, too. So I may start out doing what the boys drive me to do because they cannot sit still as long as girls but it is also good for girls. And so, that is the key for developing different strategies in the classroom. Choose a way that may be initiated because it is needed more by girls or boys but have it be the kind that is also good for both. An example is cooperative learning. Often good for girls because they work better when they are under stress with another person. On the other hand, good for boys because they need to learn how to be cooperative and work. So do you see what I am talking about with that?

JoAnn Deak, PhD Psychologist & Author, explains how boys and girls learn differently in school and why they are treated differently in the classroom


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JoAnn Deak, PhD

Psychologist & Author

JoAnn Deak, PhD, has spent more than 30 years as an educator and psychologist, helping children develop into confident and competent adults. The latter half of that period has also focused on working with adults, parents and teachers in their roles as guides or ‘neurosculptors’ of children. On her website is a quote that best describes her perspective on her work: “every interaction a child has, during the course of a day, influences the adult that child will become.”

Parents and educators at schools from New York to Hawaii, as well as such organizations as the National Association of School Psychologists, the National Association of Independent Schools, the Association of International Schools, the American Montessori Society and the International Baccalaureate Association, have heralded Dr. Deak’s ability to demystify complex issues of child development, learning, identify formation and brain research.

Dr. Deak has been an advisor to Outward Bound, a past chair of the National Committee for Girls and Women in Independent Schools, on the advisory board for the Center on Research for Girls (Laurel School), for the Seattle Girls’ School, Bromley Brook School, the Red Oak School, Power Play and GOAL. She consults with organizations and schools across the United States. Most recently, she has worked internationally with schools, organizations, associations and parent groups in every continent (except Antarctica!) She has been awarded the Woman of Achievement Award by the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools, was given the first Female Educator of the Year Award by Orchard House School, and the Outstanding Partner for Girls Award from Clemson University. She has been named the Visiting Scholar in New Zealand, the Visiting Scholar for Montessori Children’s House and has been the Resident Scholar for the Gardner Carney Leadership Institute in Colorado Springs for the past five years.

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