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Gender, the Brain, and Learning By Angela Magon, M.Ed., B.Sc.

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Presentation on theme: "Gender, the Brain, and Learning By Angela Magon, M.Ed., B.Sc."— Presentation transcript:

1 Gender, the Brain, and Learning By Angela Magon, M.Ed., B.Sc.

2 Brain and Gender: Why Care? innately interesting We learn until we die – but some do it better Gender affects learning style

3 How The Brain Works? 1. Thumb test – put your hands together  The thumb on the bottom is your dominant brain hemisphere Left Brain  logic, facts, math, pattern perception Right Brain  emotional context, imagination, creativity 2. Spin test – video Clockwise  left brain Counter clockwise  right brain

4 Brain Myths We only use 10% Right Brain vs. Left Brain people Intelligence is fixed Smarter people have bigger ones

5 All of the brain is used all the time “Rubber bands” - not right or left brained Brain rewards using your aptitudes with positive feelings Talent is not nearly as good as effort Brain can be stretched until the day you die Brain Facts:

6 Facts About The Human Brain has about 100 billion neurons ¾ of them are in the cerebral cortex Learning and memory occur when neurons connect (synapses) 1000 to 10 000 connections on one neuron

7 Marian Diamond, 2001 Brain Facts: Branches thicken with use, pruned with disuse Sleep is critical Use it or lose it

8 Consequences For Learning Late childhood  brain building spree Adolescence  pruned back when not used major learning takes place at specific times!! The Human Brain is designed for survival in the jungle Increasing effort and attention = increasing learning

9 What Gets Your (Brain’s) Attention? Physical need or danger Novelty Interest (self-made choices) Hearing your name Enriched environment Visual tools/organizers Hands-on experiences Need Significant Physical Movement or change about every 15 minutes

10 Emotion and memory are both chemically made Memories have emotions associated with them Emotions can aid or interfere with creating memory Emotion and Memory

11 Gender & Brain Structures fMRI and PET significant gender-related brain differences grey matter (processing) vs. white matter (connections) 80% vs. 20% rule

12 The Brain and Learning

13 Gender & Brain Structures Ex. Thickness and volume differences of structures  size of corpus callosum

14 Gender & Brain Processing Phillips et al., 2001


16 Gender & Brain Maturity Female visual cortices mature first in babies Male oxytocin levels lower  less interest in bonding Spatial mechanical and gross motor skills mature 4 years earlier in males Language centers mature 6 years earlier for females Malcolm Gladwell and the 10 000 hour rule

17 Gender & Brain Maturity

18 Pre-frontal cortex and the amygdala

19 Girls develop prefrontal cortex faster Amygdala controls more of boys’ behaviour Stress can lead to better performance The same stress that stimulates boys would shut girls down Gender & Brain Maturity stressperformance

20 Implications For Schooling Boys and School Male students lag behind females in most subjects More males drop out of school Boys get in trouble more often Boys have 2/3 of diagnosed learning disabilities

21 Strategies to Teach Boys Hands on activities critical Use graphic organizers and fewer words Speak in a louder voice Be careful with eye contact 1 idea per activity Fewer transitions – avoid multitasking Different approaches to discipline – ex. Pass the ball

22 Strategies to Teach Boys Keep the classrooms cool Opportunities to be competitive – physically and academically Use stressful situations to motivate Create bonding opportunities Provide positive male role models

23 Strategies To Teach Girls Must connect learning to real life  bilateral brains Emotional connection to teacher Building trust: soft spoken, smile, eye contact Opportunities to work as a group

24 Strategies to Teach Girls Positive female role models Boost self confidence and self esteem Emphasize: success through effort not ability Physical activities to improve gross motor and spatial-mechanical skills Puzzles to train abstract reasoning skills

25 Gender Training and Single-Sex Education Gender training is becoming more commonplace A modern take on single-sex education  37% boys in co-ed classes  59% girls in co-ed classes  75% girls in single sex classes  86% boys in single sex classes

26 Gender Training and Single-Sex Education Co-ed but gender separated classes Emotional and behaviour benefits

27 Effort and practice are critical Gender plays an important role in how people learn Good teaching is only half of what is required  but it is fundamentally important Thank you! Summary

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