August 29, 2006

Teacher's Gender Affects Learning

There is a widely reported study out this week by Thomas Dee, an associate professor of economics at Swarthmore College and visiting scholar at Stanford University. He is fighting to get his work published in Education Next, a quarterly journal published by the Hoover Institution.

The main point Dee claims to have researched is that gender matters when it comes to learning. Specifically, he says having a teacher of the opposite sex hurts a student's academic progress. Simply stated, boys learn more from men and girls learn more from women. In the article, Dee warns against drawing fast conclusions based on his work, and he is not endorsing single-sex education. Instead, he hopes his work will spur more research into the effect of a teachers gender on learners, and what to do about it.

If Mr. Dee is right, this is another way boys are being handicapped by the current educational system. At this time in our history, the number of male teachers is at its lowest level in 40 years. Roughly 80 percent of teachers in U.S. public schools are women.

Check out the article and see what you think.