I listened to the Ted Talks podcast title “Building a Better Classroom” earlier this week. It’s really all I can think about right now. I had an opportunity to talk about it in a faculty meeting yesterday, but in between listening to my colleagues, I could not fully form in my mind what it is I wanted to say. In our meeting we were discussing the gap between genders in those whom receive principle’s comments. (Principle’s comments are a good thing, reserved for those who get mostly A’s.) A common trend seems to be that middle school girls receive more comments than boys, and so our concern is how do we close that gap.
Our conversation led to talk of assessment, teaching styles, learning styles, and developmental differences. One of my colleagues comments has been resonating in my ear, which was something one of her children’s teachers told her that stuck with her. She said, "Schools are designed for girls.“ Meaning, girls have been training for it before they enter the classroom by playing school at home. Another teacher spoke to the developmental difference in how girls are more verbal in a classroom- better verbal learners than boys. Boys tend to be more kinesthetic learners, and demand more engagement. She also said, and I may be butchering this a bit, "The day we learn to teach math problems with a ball and hoop is the day we learn to teach to boys.”
Part of me wants to fight that gender roles we impose upon girls and boys, and such comments as above only perpetuate those roles. But at the same time, they do hold true for many children. So regardless, what I believe should be happening in the classroom is more teaching as explored in the podcast I linked. The sort of teaching and classroom environment discussed in the podcast and Ted Talks plays to both boys and girls strengths. It encourages creativity, critical thinking and analytical thinking allowing for more outside the box learning. And isn’t that what we need in our future leaders?? Don’t we need more divergent thinkers to help solve our world’s problems and to save ours and their futures as well as generations to come?? Why would we continue to teach in a sit down lecture format with answers being regurgitated back? It might take more time and effort on part of the educator, but is it not worth it??!! To create an authentic learning environment where children work together, grow together, and solve problems together!
Ugh. Okay. Maybe I am getting preachy. I just see so much value in the ideas and teaching styles shared by Ken Robinson, Salman Kahn, and John Hunter. And listening to Hunter discuss his students and the learning that takes place- it’s inspirational!
I wish I could have figured out how to say what I wanted to say at my faculty meeting. I’m still not sure what I would have said… maybe something about how our teaching styles need to change to teach to more types of learners, and maybe that will close the gap between middle school boys and girls…