Girls have a problem with math. The surprise is that they don’t start out that way. Girls in the forth grade are right up there with the boys but by the seventh grade they have fallen behind. Could it be because girls are not confident of their ability in math or because girls have more interest in communicating and see math as a lonely project.
Girls and Math
It’s been know for years that girls don’t have an aptitude for math. But did you know that girls don’t naturally start out like that? In a study done by the U.S. Department of Education 66 % of girls in the forth grade liked and did well in math, but by the seventh grade only half girls did the same. In high school only 17% of girls represented themselves well in math. Educators are now coming to understand that beginning in the lower grades the stronger focus should be on multiplication tables and in depth practice. Girls tend to lack confidence and be more critical of themselves even when they are doing well, so they need motivation, self confidence and a keener appreciation for math.
Image by Torley via Flickr
The goal must be educational programs in schools that offers hands on exploration of math, science and technology. Today’s educators agree the expectations of parents, examples children see around them and whether teachers adapt to student performance will tell the tale of how well girls and boys perform in math. The good news is that schools are becoming more creative in teaching. Sometimes boys and girls need different approaches to become proficient and confident. That is a lesson worth learning.
Schools are using enrichment programs to make learning more interesting. One such program is working throughout Texas. First to twelfth graders are tackling environmental engineering. Teens are creating computer search engines to help Texas residents find parking spaces and cut down on emissions. They use math problems and are making pages with HTML. They are excited about the work they are doing to make the world a better place to live in.
For girls, a huge problem is the lack of role models. Working in isolation doesn’t appeal to young females. The contribution of women must be emphasized and females must be searched out who excel in math and science. Girls are more in tune to improving their lives and the lives of others. Schools must show math and science as creating new technologies and improving communication rather than an isolated pursuit. In some schools students spend hours in laboratories taking apart fans, mixers and small appliances to see what makes them run. On farms they run soil tests and lend a hand harvesting crops. High school students test cars in a wind tunnel. Make it interesting and students, girls and boys will learn.
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