An upcoming teaching conference at Converse College will focus on learning differences between boys and girls.
The keynote speaker for the Institute for the Study of Instructional Strategies (ISIS) is Larry Cahill, who studies male and female brains and how the genders operate differently. The conference will be held June 25-27.
Cahill’s presentation focuses on key differences in how the genders learn and what teachers can do in coed or single gender classrooms to better serve students. Cahill, a professor in the University of California Irvine’s neurobiology and behavior department, has been featured on “60 Minutes” and written articles for national publications, including “Scientific American.”
“Boys typically are content specific and take a systematic approach to the material,” said Lisa Schoer, assistant professor of education at Converse. “Girls like to make a connection to it – ‘How does it work for me?'”
Shoer said local educators will learn ways to reach both genders as they teach, particularly when it comes to math and science, where female students often hold back in the classroom. Learning new approaches could not only help educators encourage more girls to study STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects but also more easily implement Common Core education standards.
Teachers will not only learn from presenters, but will be able to network and share strategies with other teachers about what works in the classroom, said Tracy Ksiazak, assistant professor of psychology at Converse. “Gifted girls are less likely to go into STEM fields,” Ksiazak said. “How can we decrease that gap and get them engaged in STEM?”
Shoer and Ksiazak are coordinating with conference chair Nancy Genero, an associate professor of psychology at Wellesley College who will spend one year on sabbatical as an adjunct professor in Converse’s graduate school of education in the fall.
“Questions such as, ‘How do differences between girls and boys impact learning and their social skills? And, to what extent are these differences due to hard-wiring in the brain and/or socialization?’ are relevant to all teachers,” Genero said. “The three-day ISIS conference will bring educators and researchers together under one roof. Participants will have direct access to world-class researchers. And researchers will gain a depth of understanding that is only possible by talking to classroom teachers.”
Other topics to be covered during the conference include motivation and creativity; social influence, communication and leadership; mathematical reasoning and peer-problem solving; boys’ literacy; emotions and stress; girls’ body image; and behavioral issues. “We hope to have great local representation,” Ksiazak said.
This story was written by Jenny Arnold of the Spartanburg Herald-Journal.