Boys and Brains

Some hiccoughs in the Kindergartner’s progress recently have had my antennae tingling every time I come across any information about boys and schools and intelligence. I”ve discovered a few really interesting things recently.
This podcast of a recent Voices In The Family radio show was quite fascinating. The guests were a writer who has gathered all kinds of statistics and studies together to find out why boys are doing so poorly in school compared to girls (and there has been  a decline in boys’ performance in recent years) and a psychologist who studies these kinds of things.

Peg Tyre, the writer on the show has a book called The Trouble with Boys: A Surprising Report Card on Our Sons, Their Problems at School, and What Parents and Educators Must Do which is chock full of examples, studies and conclusions on the topic of boys and formal education. The thing I really like about it is that, although she does present conclusions, they are offered alongside the stats, which means that parents and educators can take that information and weigh it in the context of their own boys and their own situations.

The next podcast I listened to was a recent episode of Radio Times, also from my local NPR station. The guest was Richard Nisbett, who has written a book called Intelligence and How to Get It: Why Schools and Cultures Count. Apparently the whole question of intelligence and what it is, is quite fraught and political and I get the impression that the experts all disagree with each other quite vehemntly. However, I liked this guy’s thesis (that intelligence is largely affected by environment). It just makes sense to me. The podcast starts off with a discussion of intelligence and IQ scores and brain size and racial differenes that you might find a bit dry (but which I found fascinating), but it warms up a bit once they start talking about schools and once the callers start calling in (a pretty intelligent bunch of callers, if you ask me. Sometimes you get runts, but this show attracted some interesting and concise callers).

I’d recommend both of these shows, and possibly the accompanying books, to parents of young children, who are concerned about how to help their kids negotiate the world of school and learning.