Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Minds of Boys

I want to share some more wisdom about boys in the book I’m currently reading, The Minds of Boys: Saving Our Sons from Falling Behind in School and Life, by Michael Gurian. I shared some of this in a previous post, which you can find here.

I’m just going to do this bullet point style so I don’t get too wordy. :) These are things I want to remember after I take this book back to the library. If you want to hear more about a particular point, just ask in the comments!

I should mention that the author tends to go out of his way to say quite often that these things work well for some girls too, and he is in no way advocating these things only for boys. His study, however, has taken a great amount of information about the differences between the average boy and girl brains into consideration. The key here is that he is speaking of the average boy, while allowing that there are some boys that this does not apply to, as well as some girls that it does apply to.

Here we go…

  • Boys have greater blood flow in their cerebellum, which is the area of the brain that controls “doing” and physical activity. Boys are more likely to attach their learning to physical movement. Movement is in fact often crucial to “male-brain” learning. (p. 48)

  • Boys in general pick up less of what is aurally going on around them, especially when it is said in words, and need more sensory-tactile experience in order to learn about something. (p.48)

  • When having to memorize material, boys succeed well when greater amounts of information come in list organization and in listed substrata (point, sub point, etc). (p. 49)

  • Boys don’t learn as much through sitting and talking, nor gravitate toward it as naturally as girls do. This is due to the differing levels of certain hormones in the brain. (p. 49)

  • Boys are not able to switch quickly from task to task; doing so causes frustration and a change in the aggression area of the brain (amygdala) which can contribute to disciplinary issues in classrooms. (p. 50)

  • Boys brains reorient themselves between tasks by moving to a “rest state”, and this is essential to male brain activity, but can cause problems in a classroom (boys zoning out, etc). When this happens some boys fidget, become restless and/or hyper in an attempt to stimulate their brains to a learning state again. (p. 51)

  • Many boys are more likely to talk, read, and write better after they’ve gained the brain stimulation of gross motor movement. Their verbal centers “wake up” because their body movement has stimulated the whole brain. (p. 86)

  • Boys tend toward spatial-mechanical play and learning and use more space than girls often will. When confined in smaller spaces, boys often get antsy and frustrated, and “bounce off the walls”. Discipline problems follow. It takes more real space to “engage the world through the spatial centers of the brain”, which is what the boy does.(p. 92)

  • Discipline problems with boys have been shown to decrease when preschools expanded the physical floor plan. (p. 92)

  • The author talks about “aggression nurturance” in male to male communication and how important the extremely physical play between boys (and grown men) is. “Boys who often lack the ‘use your words’ methodology for intimacy, nurture themselves and others through aggressive gestures and activities. … it’s often the case for boys (and men) that aggressive gestures are as nurturing as words, as bonding as hugs. … [they] build trust and loyalty by exploring weakness and strength in a playful, teasing way.” (p. 93)

Whew, ok that’s enough for one post. :) I could probably type this whole book out, it’s really opened my eyes to so much.

That last point really stuck out to me and it’s something I need to keep in mind as I try to understand my son.

Have a beautiful day! :)


  1. Thank you for sharing such great information about the book. I defiantly need to check the book out at my library.:)))) Can't wait to read!

  2. Great information. Yes, I recognized a lot of this in my son, when he was in the school setting. When I brought him home to homeschool him he thrived and learned not only material but self confidence in his ability to learn.

  3. I got that book from the library but never gave myself a chance to sit down and read it. I think I'll have to get it out again.

    I wonder if the last point is why my 3 year old is constantly hitting and sitting on my 7 month old. He doesn't seem to be angry, just playful. Does the book mention how to curb the behavior when it becomes dangerous?

    Thanks for sharing!

  4. This book sounds very interesting - I think I'll see if our library has a copy! Thanks for writing about it =)

  5. I really need to check out this book.

  6. Thanks for the great post. I, as a teacher of 7th and 8th graders, needed to remind myself of this quite often. The chemicals in boys really are quite different from those of girls. Boys really need to move and touch to learn.

    I know my 6th grader is nervous that when we move to NY he won't have recess anymore. He already realizes that he just really needs that time to move. Not just b/c he likes recess.

  7. Great post! I like being able to read your bullet points and get caught up on this info., esp. if I don't find time to read the book myself. :) I might make a similar post about a book I've been reading about boys called Wild Things.

  8. Crumpet HAS to play between each and every topic we discuss. It drives me crazy but now I know why! Thank you for this post!

  9. Married to my Hero - I haven't read any advice in the book yet about that... if I do I'll let you know. I'm sure you are probably doing the right thing just intuitively - telling him you know he loves the baby but we have to be extra-gentle with baby and give kisses or soft touches. You probably know more than I do about this! :)

    Cindy - I can't believe some schools are cutting out recess... one of the worst things they could do...

    Monica - I'd love to read a post about the book you are reading - just the title alone has me intrigued!

    Kim - I thought of your latest school post and the "bouncing off the walls" while I was typing this up. I was hoping you'd see it. See, he's just a boy! :)


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