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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Education post: Visual-Spatial Learners: Gender Differences

Part two:

Here's the assignment:
Create a blog with at least 8 entries to share resources and/or strategies with other educators, administrators, and/or parents. Be sure to include pictures, links, etc. in your blog. Make sure to describe how the resource or strategy might be useful to you and how it would impact VSLs.

This week's topic is gender differences in VSL (Visual-Spatial Learners).  Our book, Visual-Spatial Learners by Alexandra Shires Golon discusses the topic in a very short chapter 3.  Golon makes a case for boys being more visual-spatial than girls, especially early on.  This is traditional wisdom and appears to be accurate.  However, she also points out that boys are in general not as "school ready" as girls.  This means that they are not as likely to be as good with language and communication and fine motor skills as girls are.  Boys are also more likely than girls to be disruptive if they are bored or unhappy with what is taught or how it is taught.  (So it may be that there are more VSL girls than we think, but they don't stand out as much.)  (See also the Visual Learner site.)

Golon believes that much of the "problem" with boys isn't really with the boys, but rather with how boys are taught.  They are often taught using lectures and textbooks rather than with more engaging activities.  I remember my seventh grade history teacher.  All he did was lecture.  Every day for forty-five minutes or an hour.  I took notes, but the only time I reviewed them I didn't get an "A"!  It was boring, but I learned my American History!  The next year I repeated American History because we moved to a different school district.  We used the textbook a lot; it was mostly primary sources in the book.  In tenth grade we again did American History and I remember an activity where we had to role play the Constitutional Convention.  I remember studying in detail the reasons for the various compromises that were made.  Then we acted out the debates.  It was certainly more interesting than the other two classes!

Recent research indicates that VSL outnumber ASL (Audio-Sequential Learners).  It would be interesting to know if this has changed as our culture moves more toward the visual, or whether it has always been this way.

Are you curious about whether or not you are more right or left brained?  Here's an online test for it.

Implications for teaching this are still somewhat tentative since we haven't covered that material yet in this course.  The most obvious one for me is have more hands on materials for the kids.  I tend to talk too much and have class discussions.  I enjoy the interaction and they engage me, whether at school or in other venues.  But I can see how some students' eyes glaze over and they get lost.  So I try and have demonstrations, and get them writing and sketching in their notebooks.  Plus the labs.  And the videos.  Hopefully the students understand the material and are given many opportunities to learn it and show that they understand it.

In conclusion, here's a young mother's take on a VSL daughter and how she's handling it.  My students are a bit older, so it's not as useful for me.  Wish I had read it when our girl was young!

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