Treating boys like girls — and what do you get?

Not all scientific research is useful and some of its results are plain wrong. One laughable project from Bristol University is reported in my morning paper today where Elizabeth Kilby, presumably the team leader, says that if parents sang nursery rhymes to their sons, hugged their sons more and used reward stickers to encourage them to read, then the big language gap between boys and girls would disappear or at least be lessened.

What a pity this research team didn’t consult the brains department at the university! Ten minutes spent with a neurophysiologist there would have convinced them that although nursery rhymes and hugs are beneficial — to both girls as well as buys — they’re not going to make the slightest difference.

Boys and girls are born with slightly different structures in their brains meaning that boys will be useful with their hands — and often aggressively to one another — long before they have any facility with words. And, at the time of puberty when additional hormones wash through their brains, girls are ahead of boys in almost all the curriculum subjects. By the time girls are 25 years of age they are far ahead in almost every academic subject and it take another 5 years before boys catch up.

The answer to the brain gap conundrum is that boys and girls really need different educational regimes. This will have to wait until educationalists catch up with scientific research — that is, sensible scientific research!

One thought on “Treating boys like girls — and what do you get?

  1. Yes, that is an example of all too common knowledge silos in academics. Careers are frequently built and maintained by constructing special vocabularies and conceptual structures. Whole-system approaches increase the risks that the structure can be collapsed due to poor foundations, usually chosen assumptions.

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