Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Education - different stokes for different genders?

I have just been listening to the  headmaster of Eton College on the radio, explaining the differences between boys and girls, when it comes to education.

Girls will sit down and apply themselves to work, whereas boys' minds will wander, they are restless and cannot sit still for too long.

There is a good  reason for this, an inbred reason, which will apply even more in developing countries.
Let's take, as an example, the Maasai. What do Maasai children traditionally do (if they are not attending school)?

Boys will be charged with looking after the flocks and herds. They will be constantly scanning the horizon for danger. They will be constantly gazing over their charges to look out for strays. They are not focused on anything close at hand. Their gaze is in the distance.

Girls will be at home, preparing food, making bead-work, looking after younger siblings, or whatever. They will be concentrating within their immediate environment.

Take these children and put them into a school environment where they are expected to sit at a desk and concentrate on their immediate environment - the chalk board, teacher, books.

Who is better equipped, due to the environment they are used to?

Well, it would appear that these activities that are carried out by the Maasai children today are inbred into all children, so even in a developed country, where children have been going to school for generations, these traits still come out. Boys will be looking into the distance, wanting (needing?) to move around, whereas girls can sit and concentrate on their immediate surroundings.

I accept that the above is a massive generalisation, but when I think about it, it seems to fit in with my experiences of child behaviour in class or other situation where sitting quietly is the requirement.

I will try to remember all this if/when we expand Twiga to include classrooms.

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