The Sept. 19, 2005, issue of Newsweek contains a story highlighting the differences in the way boys and girls learn. Reporter Peg Tyre writes: “Three years ago, Jeff Gray, the principal at Foust Elementary School in Owensboro, Ky., realized his school needed help—and fast. Test scores at Foust were the worst in the county and the students, particularly the boys, were falling far behind. So Gray took a controversial course for educators on brain development, then revamped the first- and second-grade curriculum.
“The biggest change: He divided the classes by gender. Because males have less serotonin in their brains, which Gray was taught may cause them to fidget more, desks were removed from the boys’ classrooms and they got short exercise periods throughout the day. Because females have more oxytocin, a hormone linked to bonding, girls were given a carpeted area where they sit and discuss their feelings. Because boys have higher levels of testosterone and are theoretically more competitive, they were given timed, multiple-choice tests. The girls were given multiple-choice tests, too, but got more time to complete them. Gray says the gender-based curriculum gave the school ‘the edge we needed.’ Tests scores are up. Discipline problems are down. This year the fifth and sixth grades at Foust are adopting the new curriculum, too.
“To close the educational gender gap, (author Michael) Gurian says, teachers need to change their techniques. They should light classrooms more brightly for boys and speak to them loudly, because research shows males don’t see or hear as well as females. Because boys are more-visual learners, teachers should illustrate a story before writing it and use an overhead projector to practice reading and writing.”
If public schools are looking at this issue, should the church also consider the value of separate classes for boys and girls? Could that be one way to help boys stay engaged and growing as Christian disciples?