Brain Development – Yes

It is a gross generalization to say that girls are easier to teach than boys. There are too many variables to consider such as the subject matter being taught, the ability level of the individual student, and the skill level of the teacher to be able to say with certainty that one gender learns material more easily than the other. However, my teaching and learning experiences have shown me that there are some areas of early education in which girls have a temporary advantage over boys. One of those areas is in reading. Girls learn to read more quickly and easily than boys do because of the way their brains process information.

According to David Sousa in his 2005 book How the Brain Learns to Read, boys and girls process language differently. Girls have a larger and thicker corpus callosum, which is a bundle of neurons that connects the two halves of the brain and allows them to talk to one another. This allows girls to process language on both sides of the brain. Boys tend to process language mainly on the left side of the brain.

Simon Baron-Cohen, the director of the autism research center at Cambridge University, validated Sousa’s claim in his 2005 article “The Male Condition,” which was published in the New York Times. In the article, Baron-Cohen notes that females often learn to talk faster than males, they make eye contact sooner, and that females normally activate both sides of the brain hemisphere when they are engaged in language-based activities, whereas the male brain mostly utilizes the left hemisphere.

The ability of the female brain to process language in both hemispheres gives girls an early advantage in the classroom when it comes to learning spoken and written language. Girls are able to learn to speak more quickly than boys. They also have less difficulty than boys when it comes to acquiring literacy skills.  

 As a reading specialist with a background in early literacy, my experiences have shown that girls tend to learn literacy skills more quickly than boys in the primary grades. However, this early advantage is only temporary. Boys take longer to learn to read, but by puberty there is little or no difference between the reading ability of boys and girls.

 As a general rule, it is not possible to say that girls are easier to teach than boys. However, when it comes to developing literacy skills in the primary grades, girls have a definite advantage over their male counterparts.