Saturday, March 11, 2006

Gender Differences by Dr. Leonard Sax

The book I'm reading is so long and full of great information that I have to blog halfway through it in order to remember what I want to say about it. I agree with many of the theories Leonard Sax is putting forth. My only issue, and this may be dealt with later on in the book, is that he never addresses the fact that most teachers do not work in an ideal environment, meaning, they aren't able to get a job in a same sex classroom. Even private schools in Canada don't have many of those. So teachers need practical suggestions for teaching to gender differences, given that there will be both sexes in the classroom. As a sidebar to parents, whenever you think your voice can be heard, lobby for same sex classrooms.

Ok, have finished the book now so can now comment on the whole thing. Turns out he didn't address how you go about implementing same sex teaching strategies in a co-ed classroom. I suppose you could implement two completely different programs, but aside from doubling the workload, it would raise issues of equity among class members, if there were different tests, or time frames for completing assignments etc. Also you couldn't gear the lessons to one gender, without alienating the other. So again, parents, either put your children in a same sex school or see if your public school would be interested in experimenting with same sex classes.

I found the book focused mostly on parenting, and a little on teaching, gender specifically. I was happy to see some suggestions that made a lot of sense and would eventually help a child become a well-adjusted person. I was appalled at some of the case studies, and had horrific thoughts of how many others there must be if Sax is using the scenario as an example. The examples made me angry and confused as to why someone would think what they were doing was helpful or appropriate.

Another part I found fascinating was the chapter that dealt with homosexuality as it relates to gender differences. The concept of the anomalous male is exemplified in someone I know down to a T. It was a real Aha momment when I figured out that this person fit the criteria. I also found it interesting and saw the truth in the fact that anomalous girls are often popular and well adjusted in middle and high school where as anomalous boys are often loners and walled in. There seems to be no conclusive evidence that an anomalous male will be gay or straight. But the parenting advice for anomalous males makes a lot of sense.

A great read, for teachers and definitely for parents. Bottom line, go with your child's personality, not against it. Be positive, consistent and equitable in your discipline. Be a PARENT not a FRIEND (at least until they are adults themselves) to your child. No negotiations with your child. Recognize that there are differences between boys and girls.

I cannot believe how long it took me to read this book! I have no time! I had to renew it 3 times, at 3 weeks a pop, 12 weeks is the longest I've taken to read a book. But I'm glad I did. On to the next...

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