Aug 7, 2009

The Minds of Boys--a Summary (sort of )

by Sarah Albrecht

I’m starting a Master’s program for secondary education at the end of the month—trepidation! Given some of the classroom stories my children come home with, one of my greatest fears is how to teach boys (not that this applies to all, of course) so they work with and not against me—and vice/versa.

So I’ve been reading a book called The Minds of Boys by Michael Gurian. It has some great insights both for relationships at home and for teaching.

Many of you may have heard some of this already, but here were some “aha!” moments for me:

Men and boys rely more on visual input than girls. When I need to enter a room at night, say the kitchen to get a drink, I often use just the light coming from another room. Invariably my husband turns on the light for the same task. Or at dinner I’ll sit enjoying the fading natural light and my husband will say, “How can you stand it being so dark?” I had always thought our preferences were unique, not gender-based.

Boys are usually one-and-a-half years behind girls in verbal development; for example, freshman girls generally write at the same level as second-semester sophomore boys. Since boys usually relate, again, to visual stimuli, to get them writing it may help to have them draw rather than write when brainstorming for details. Or they can draw a cartoon of what they are supposed to write about, then use it to get sensory ideas for their written product. I’ll definitely try this with my reluctant-writer boys.

Boys tend to need about sixty seconds to transition from one task to another. I had noticed, but not really noticed, this in my boys—in other words, I have tended to get frustrated when they don’t leap immediately to get on task.

Finally, boys "zone" differently than girls. When their brains go into a rest stage, little other brain activity occurs. Girls, on the other hand, continue to have significant brain activity even at rest, which relates to their ability to multitask.

This is just a sample of some of the information in the book. As a mom, I wish I’d read something like it a long time ago. As a teacher I hope it will give me an edge!


  1. Another thing I wish teachers would figure out is that boys are direct learners. They aren't going to "get" something unless you teach it to them. We had a charter school where the teachers said if the kids read more they would automatically become good spellers. It worked for the girls but not the boys. Surprise.

  2. Good point. We've experienced that too.

  3. I've always believed that to teach is show someone how to teach themselves for life. The adventure is that we do all learn differently. At church, I've noticed the huge differences a teacher makes when he/she approached the class as a group of students instead of a group.


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