Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Review highlights flawed logic of segregating boys and girls for education purposes, based on alleged brain differences

Date:
August 18, 2011
Source:
Springer
Summary:
There is no scientific basis for teaching boys and girls separately, according to new research. A newly published review reveals fundamental flaws in the arguments put forward by proponents of single-sex schools to justify the need of teaching teach boys and girls separately. The author shows that neuroscience has identified few reliable differences between boys' and girls' brains relevant to learning or education.

There is no scientific basis for teaching boys and girls separately, according to Lise Eliot from The Chicago Medical School. Her review reveals fundamental flaws in the arguments put forward by proponents of single-sex schools to justify the need of teaching teach boys and girls separately. Eliot shows that neuroscience has identified few reliable differences between boys' and girls' brains relevant to learning or education. Her work is published online in Springer's journal Sex Roles.

The first issue Eliot highlights is that single-sex school advocates often claim differences between boys' and girls' brains based on studies carried out in adult men and women. But such effects have rarely been found in children. It is also wrong to assume that children's brains operate like adults'. In reality, they are works-in-progress, and much of what influences adult neural processing is due to individuals' social and educational experience over their lifespan. Therefore the assumption that because gender differences in the brain are biological, they are necessarily fixed or 'hardwired' is incorrect.

Eliot then reviews seven specific claims often used to justify the need for sex-segregated learning: gender differences in the corpus collosum (the arched bridge of white matter that connects the two cerebral hemispheres, allowing communication between the right and left sides of the brain) and language lateralization (the idea that verbal functions are carried out mostly by the left side of the brain); differences in brain maturation rate and sequence between boys and girls; gender differences in hearing, in vision and in the autonomic nervous system; sex hormones and learning; and finally preferred learning styles of boys and girls. For each one, she shows how the science has been misrepresented and its findings exaggerated to build a rationale for sex-segregated education, which misleads parents into believing there is a scientific basis for teaching boys and girls in separate classrooms.

Although there is no doubt that boys and girls have different interests which shape how they respond to different academic subjects, neuroscientists have had great difficulty identifying meaningful differences between boys' and girls' neural processing -- even for learning to read, which has been the most studied to date. And although research shows that men and women -- not boys and girls -- tend towards different self-professed learning styles, there is no evidence that teaching specifically geared to such differences is actually beneficial.

Eliot concludes: "Beyond the issue of scientific misrepresentation, the very logic of segregating children based on inherent anatomical or physiological traits runs counter to the purpose and principles of education. Instead of separating children in the name of 'hardwired' abilities and learning styles, schools should be doing the opposite: instilling in children the faith in their own malleability and promoting their self-efficacy as learners, regardless of gender, race, or other demographic characteristics."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Springer. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Lise Eliot. Single-Sex Education and the Brain. Sex Roles, 2011; DOI: 10.1007/s11199-011-0037-y

Cite This Page:

Springer. "Review highlights flawed logic of segregating boys and girls for education purposes, based on alleged brain differences." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 August 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110818101653.htm>.
Springer. (2011, August 18). Review highlights flawed logic of segregating boys and girls for education purposes, based on alleged brain differences. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110818101653.htm
Springer. "Review highlights flawed logic of segregating boys and girls for education purposes, based on alleged brain differences." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110818101653.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) A recent study links apathetic feelings to a smaller brain. Researchers say the results indicate a need for apathy screening for at-risk seniors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

AP (Apr. 16, 2014) Pushing the limits on style and self-expression is a rite of passage for teens and even younger kids. How far should schools go with their dress codes? The courts have sided with schools in an era when school safety is paramount. (April 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Couples Who Sleep Less Than An Inch Apart Might Be Happiest

Couples Who Sleep Less Than An Inch Apart Might Be Happiest

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study by British researchers suggests couples' sleeping positions might reflect their happiness. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins