The September issue of Teachers magazine has an article on whether boys and girls learn differently and how teaching can address the balance. Headteacher Robin Bevan writes: 'I've taught 20,000 maths lessons in my career and I've lost count of the number of times the boys and girls conform to gender stereoypes. During a lesson, I'll ask for a show of hands to see who's confident about the task they're engaged in. Later, I invariably find girls who had said they are unsure, now doing excellent work, and boys who had expressed confidence, now doing the activity without displaying real understanding at all! I've spoken about this to colleagues, and most conclude that, though every child is different, there are striking patterns in the learning behaviours of boys and girls.' You can read the article online here with a rather groovy page-turning effect, including some ideas for working with the differences. (It's on page 20 of the magazine in case that link doesn't work properly.)
The DCSF has launched an 18-month focus on gender and its impact on pupil performance called the Gender Agenda. You can read more about it here. So do we need to do youth work differently for boys and girls? And if so, what should it look like? I was talking to a friend yesterday who went to an all-girls Christian event recently where she felt the emphasis, partly through the Bible passages preached on, was on girls being victims and needing to be rescued by Jesus. The girls outside the church that she works with are feisty and opinionated; the girls inside the church are encouraged to be passive and wait. Have you seen anything similar? I think this area needs a lot more thought and would be interested to know who is working with single sex groups and what you're doing with them.