Parkside studies gender based learning

Source:  Talk Up APS, December 1, 2009

Parkside Elementary School is taking a closer look at the unique ways that boys and girls learn. Recent brain science studies revealed that boys and girls do not always learn the same way, and actually benefit from different approaches to teaching. When teaching does not address the different learning styles, children suffer, especially boys. According to Michael Gurian, founder of the Gurian Institute in Colorado Springs, Colo., boys all over the world are struggling in school, with lower grades, more discipline problems, more learning disabilities and more behavior disorders than girls. The same holds true at Parkside, where girls outperform boys in almost every subject area.

After analyzing the data, Parkside’s principal, Dr. Phillip Luck, examined at the structure of a school day and realized that classrooms were a better fit for girls who were able to sit still, multi-task, and listen more carefully than for boys. Like other elementary schools across the country, Parkside tended to view the natural assets that boys bring to learning as a challenge. These include single-task focus, impulsivity and spatial and kinesthetic learning. Thus, Parkside has recently teamed up with the Gurian Institute to tackle this problem.

In November, Parkside’s staff worked with trainers from the Gurian Institute for an entire day with the goal of connecting brain science to classroom practices. This relationship will extend to Parkside’s parents as well. They will participate in a parent session in January.

In addition to working with the Gurian Institute, all classes have recess everyday. Dr. Luck knew that it was imperative for students, especially boys, to interact with friends and let go of some of the “kid” energy that all children have. By introducing more boy-friendly teaching strategies in the classroom, Parkside hopes to significantly improve learning and close the gender achievement gap at the school.

For more information about Parkside Elementary , please call 404-802-4100 or email For more on Parkside’s and other Atlanta Public Schools’ efforts on gender-based learning, pick up a copy of the fall issue of The Atlanta Educator. (Download a PDF version here.)


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