Friday, May 1, 2009

Thinking in Pictures

Boy brains and girl brains are different.

I've been reading a lot about the bio-neurological differences between the sexes (a great intro can be found here), but seeing them in action in my own home is a whole 'nother thing.

Today I had the privilege of talking to Michael Gurian, author of The Minds of Boys and The Purpose of Boys. And he said one thing -- one tiny little research-based thing -- that completely explained the actions of Boy #2 this week.

One way, Gurian said, to get boys more involved in learning is to use more graphics. If any part can be drawn before it's written, he said -- and the lightbulb went on.

Boy #2 started writing science-fiction this week while I was in New York. More accurately, Boy #2 started DRAWING science-fiction. When I came home, he showed me a notebook full of his drawings, drawings that told a complete story. And after drawing the pictures, he was ready to tell me the words.

Boy brains are more visually-spatially oriented than girl brains. That's not good or bad or right or wrong; that's just biology. But when we keep those differences in mind, we can tailor education and experiences to our children. If I had asked my son to write a story, in words, I would have gotten nothing from him. Writing is still very much a struggle for him, and the pure physicality required to create words on a page would have sapped his energy.

Drawing first allowed him full access to his creativity. Because of the way his brain works, my son was able to find the story through the drawing. He started with an idea and saw it evolve on the page. Odds are, the story he told me was one he found after drawing the pics. He needed to visualize the story before he could tell it.

Think about it: what behaviors have you seen in your son this week that could be explained by biology? How can you use your knowledge of boy brains to help your son develop?

1 comment:

  1. I am so happy you are finding a way to tap into your son's creativity and writing. I agree, boys (at least mine) need to move, spin, draw, sculpt or be otherwise stimulated to really get the creative juices flowing. It is a shame that art, music and physical education are so often put on the chopping block. There is really no mystery here on why our boys are falling behind.