I want this to be a second response card to Vol 3 John 5. Archipelago won't let me create a second response card, so I assume there is some reason for this. Sooo, if we have twelve reply boxes and only 9 potential responders, why can't I respond twice?
[Editor's note: At some point, we may have 12 members; also, if EVERY ONE of the nine current responders replied two (or three) times to the same card, our reply boxes would runneth over. Although this is unlikely, a well designed program should not break down even in unlikely circumstances (in my experience, they always happen sooner or later). Finally, one response per card makes for a simpler structure in the long run. Perhaps the new refernce tag feature can fill this gap: See Vol 4 John 28]
Anyway, I'm now responding to your query about sex in the classroom on a separate card. If you you want to append this to my first response card, John, go ahead. But the two cards represent two distinct topics, so I think they warrant two separate cards.
You ask about sex differences in the classroom, or in the educational process in general; and whether these differences are due to heredity or the environment, or some combination of the two. In response, I'm just going to ramble a little (as I am prone to do) and if anybody finds anything I say of particular interest, we can go into more detail at a later voice response card.
Let's start with IQ. Research with large samples rarely shows any significant difference in IQ between males and females. Although mean IQ scores are relatively equivalent, the distribution of scores is different. The IQ scores of males are more variable than those of females. In other words, the percentage of mentally gifted and mentally retarded is greater in the male population.
On to specific academic skills. Females tend to perform better in the following skills: perceptual speed and accuracy; rote memory; numerical computation; verbal fluency; and other language tasks. Males have better: mathematical reasoning; visuospatial abilities; mechanical ability; speed and coordination of large body movements.
Are these differences due to nature or nurture? Differences have been attributed to hormones, sex linked recessive genes, cerebral lateralization, and brain side dominance by those who favor nature. Those on the side of nurture lean toward socialization factors; sex stereotypes, teachers expectations, etc. No one knows for sure where the cause is, of course. I believe that the environment plays the dominant role (But I'm wishy-washy enough to allow that nature may play some role).
The time between the end of elementary school and the end of high school is where differences between males and females in math and science become most apparent. Studies have shown the jr. high girls who perform as well as or better than boys in various math skills, perform well below the boy's level by the time they complete high school. This appears to me to be an apparent effect of the socialization process. However, hormones could play a factor.
There are documented differences in the way teachers (both male and female) interact with students, especially in math and science courses at the high school. I've spent many hours in high school science classes observing these differences. Teachers work with males more frequently. When a male answers a question incorrectly in class, the teacher tends to try to get him to work out the right answer. When a female answers incorrectly, the teacher tends to call on another student for the correct answer (usually a male). Teachers elaborate more on male responses. And so it goes.
Sex role definitions of teenage kids can be almost fanatical. Even today, many teenagers see math and science as male subjects. Many teenage girls wouldn't be caught dead taking an advanced math, science, or computer course.
And what about those teenage girls that do take these courses? In one study that I recall a personality inventory was administered to a group of high school girls in a high level math course and to another group of high school girls in a high level French class. Girls in the math class were more reserved, more tough minded (whatever that is), more stable, more radical, and less feminine.
Boys are about 3 times more likely than girls to use home computers when they're available. Parents are more likely to encourage sons to work on the home computer. They talk about careers in computers more often to sons than daughters. And so on.
I was involved in research at the University of Illinois that investigated the differential effects of the interest level of reading material on 4th to 6th grade boys' and girls' reading comprehension. When boys read an article that they rated as interesting, they understand it and recalled it quite well. However, when they read something that they rated uninteresting, they performed rather poorly on a comprehension test. Girls were effected somewhat differently by interest level of reading material. As with the boys, when they read something that they rated as interesting, their comprehension was quite good. But, girls recalled material that they rated as uninteresting significantly better than did boys. In other words, boys only performed well with material that boys found interesting. Girls performed well with material that girls found interesting as well as with material that only boys found interesting.
It seems as if girls are dealing much better with the boys' world than boys are with the girls' world --John, it seems to be black and white all over--
[Editor's note: Or maybe it's just a difference in priorities!]