Monday, September 19, 2011

What We're About (Math for Girls)

Girls learn differently than boys, and specifically they learn mathematics differently than boys. We can argue about whether they're born that way or socialized that way, but the fact is that there is a very worrying body of evidence from researchers. 1. Although girls' test scores are on a par with those of boys, their confidence starts to drop around grade six. 2. The confidence gap continues through to graduate work, where one study found that female students had more doubt than male students about completing their advanced degrees, even through their performance was equivalent. 3. By the time girls reach high school, many girls become disinterested in mathematics. However, math acts as a "critical filter" when students enter post-secondary school, and many girls are excluding themselves from a large portion of university majors. There are specific strategies that parents can use to help stop the downward slide, by introducing mathematical activities that are geared to the way girls learn. You don't have to be a math teacher, or even very confident in math yourself, to help a few girls do better in math class. Our activities are designed to appeal to the way girls learn, and they include a parent guide to help you through the process of learning alongside your daughters, nieces, and young female friends. All our activities harness the collaborative nature of the typical girl, so they are designed to be done by a handful of four girls ages 11 to 14 working together. Because girls perform better in activities covering a breadth of material, these are not "drill'n'kill" worksheets - they are real-life, open-ended problems that tie together various topics, but also encourage a depth of thinking rather than practice of a particular skill.

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