General Session Keynote: Bill McBride


Marvin Pittman – representative of State Board of Education

  • PD is often the first thing cut and should be last
  • Middle school is the “last, best chance” to catch students and hook them on learning

John Harrison honoring new NC Schools to Watch

  • Apple Valley Middle School
  • Crestdale Middle School
  • East Wilkes Middle School

Keynote: Dr. Bill McBride

-Gender Differences: Girls Will Be Girls and Boys Will Be Boys

-How do boys and girls learn differently? What can we do to balance literacy strategies for gender differences?

-Brain research doesn’t tell the whole story…however, watch the male brain when it’s left on it’s own

-The Minds of Boys by Michael Gurian

  • 70% of D’s and Fs
  • 70% of learing disabilities
  • 80% of those on Ritalin
  • 80% of HS dropouts

-Why Gender Matters by Leonard Sax

  • State of SC hired to help setting up single-sex schools
  • “School, not drugs is the biggest problem for boys”

-UNC accepted 58% female vs. 42% male students this past year.

-Dropout rate in America is 34%…1 in 3 high school students are dropping out…we start losing them in middle school…7000 a day, one every 26 seconds

-Gates study: The Silent Epidemic

– 1.7 to 2.3 billion dollars lifetime cost to pay for dropouts who turn to crime and drugs


-American literature perpetuates differences in males and females…Tom Sawyer courting Becky…images of her reading, him acting up

-Film perpetuates differences in males and females…Harry Potter…Hermione has done the work, Harry and Ron are always in need of saving

-Should we try to change boys or the educational system around them? -M. Gurian

-At adolescence girls corpus collosum is 25% larger than boys

-Makes girls able to multi-task better…fewer attention span problems…faster transitions…better listening skills…

-Larger hippocampus provides greater use of sensory memory details in speaking and writing

-Girls prefrontal cortex develops earlier and larger than boys

-Seratonin and Oxytocin are the brain’s break pedals produced in the prefrontal cortex…leads to fewer impulsive decisions

-Adults job is to serve as external Prefrontal Lobes for our kids

-Film: Raising Cain: Exploring the Inner Lives of America’s Boys

-Film: Inside the Teenage Brain

  • Video of skaters at a skate park discussing level of risk

-Boys are significantly more likely than girls to do something dangerous

-Boys overestimate their ability, while girls underestimate theirs…bring boys down to reality, while building girls up

-Amanda Quinn: Women get a buzz from hearing their own voice… 🙂

-Book: Mens Brains are like Waffles, Womens Brains are like Spaghetti, Bill and Pam Farrel


-“Boys are treated like defective girls” in schools

-Spatial/mechanical reasoning makes boys want to move things through the air

-Men are mesmirized by movement

– PBS Special on Brain Gender Differences: Brain Sex

-Length of ring finger compared to index finger may be correlated to the amount of testosterone exposed to in the womb. Also, means the mechanical/spatial relationship as this is controlled by testosterone.

-Boys have less blood flow to the brain and tend to struture/compartmentalize learning

-Graphic organizer helps boys compartmentalize…blank paper gives girls an advantage

-Women use advanced parts of the brain for tasks, men use more primative areas of the brain to accomplish same task

-Men have 50% less blood flow to brain…leads to rest state sleeping: driving, watching tv, class

-The more words a teacher uses, the more chance a boy will quit listening…use symbols, abstractions, etc…

-Brain isn’t whole issue: environment, family background, temperament play key role…in absence of positive environment the male brain runs amok

-Percentage of Females taking AP Exams, 2003

  • 66% of Art
  • 64% of Literature
  • 58% of Biology
  • 54% of Environmental Science
  • 32% Physics General
  • 21% Physics Electricity and Magnetism
  • 24% Physics Mechanics
  • 14% Comp. Science

-Need to teach boys in ways that allow them to stretch themselves and feel comfortabe

-Should we try to change the boys or the educational system?

New Book: If they can Argue Well, they can Write Well…20 minute debate prior to writing persuasive papers…someone takes notes and those are used to develop paper…


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