In a recent conversation with my oldest daughter we spoke of a common situation in third grade when there would be a test where students were given a minute to solve multiplication problems. She struggled in multiplication and did not understand how and why it worked. Because of this, when these exercises were given, she finished last routinely and was mocked by other students for being so slow. She thought for the entire year she was terrible at math.
Fast forward to senior year and she is getting an A in AP Calculus. So what changed? She had a math teacher who was able to teach her in a way that her brain was receptive to learning. One that worked with her strengths rather than against them. She was fortunate however; not all kids have the benefit of a tutor when they have difficulty with math. The automatic assumption for a teen girl who struggles is that she isn’t good at the subject and will always have to work harder to understand it, but what if it is really that her brain takes in information differently?
It turns out girl’s brains and boy’s brains are wired differently. In a recent study of 949 people age 8-22 the most pronounced difference in brain activity was in the teen years at age 13.
Now that scientists recognize the differences both in the brain and the way girls learn vs. how boys do, it is an opportunity to change the way STEM classes are taught. Gender differences in the classroom can account for how they progress through middle school to college.
Three Questions To Ask Your Teen Daughter About School:
- Do you ever feel like the material is just not making any sense?
- When you get a test back and the grade is lower than expected how does it make you feel about your ability in that subject?
- If you could do anything differently to learn math what would it be?
The way she answers will be very telling about how she is learning and will help you gage if her grades are directly related to the material or the way she is being taught. Advocate at school to consider recognizing the gender differences in learning, and help both boys and girls acquire knowledge in the way their brains receive it.
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