Gender differences enliven classes


Molly Apple

Anastacia Markoe, Staff Writer

Biology labs, open discussions in English classes, World Cultures simulations: do boys and girls experience these things in the same way? We’ve all heard the cliches; that girls talk more in English, that boys are better at math, and that more young men will attend medical school while their female counterparts are more likely to pursue the humanities. The question that remains, though, is whether these cliches are just that, cliches, or whether there is an actual neurological difference between the brains of males and females that could account for this divergence of affinities?

In a recent seminar called Pink Brain/Blue Brain, The Blake School faculty were given a chance to explore what is myth and what is fact in matters of the mind, and how these physical differences manifest themselves within the classroom versus the way in which societal norms affect their students’ behaviors.

To be perfectly candid, I fit the stereotype of a female student; math and science are engaging classes, but I would never pursue them outside of school. English, on the other hand, well, just hand me a book and I will be happy for days. What must be explored, though, is whether I am a indicative of my entire gender in this matter, or whether it is decided on a person to person basis. As Maggie Warner ‘16 said, “I feel more comfortable in English, but that’s just because I enjoy the class more! And I don’t think it’s true about boys being better at math and science, and girls being better at English! I know lots of girls who are way better at math.” Or, in the words of John Miller ‘16, “I am more comfortable in math and science-I like the subjects better, they’re more interesting to me.”

The ironic thing is that both of these individuals reinforced the stereotype, while simultaneously denying its validity. So if such cliches don’t exist in the minds of individuals, where do they come from? Also, how would one classify them as true or false when our own students themselves give conflicting evidence?

Kevin Ahn ‘16 raised an intriguing point when he said, “It seems that guys tend to talk more in classes, and are generally more confident, I think.”  Is it this assuredness that helps in topics like math, in which there is a set answer, while girls are drawn to subects like literature that are generally open for personal interpretation?  In any case, the cacophony of voices in a co-ed classroom alway ensures an enlightening hour.