As the relaxing days of summer fade into a distant memory and we get our heads down in a new school year, I was struck by something which I read recently. This is some research which showed that five year old children who are told a story about an intelligent person and asked to guess the gender of that person are likely to suggest male or female about equally. The same experiment with six year olds revealed that boys picked their own gender as being ‘really, really smart’ 65% of the time whereas the number of girls doing the same had dropped to 48%. This worrying finding was repeated in a further test which gave six year olds the choice of a game for children who are ‘really, really smart’ or who ‘try really, really hard’. Girls were far less likely to opt for the game for ‘smart’ children.
What this means for us is that we all need to think carefully about the implicit messages in what we say. Do we praise girls too much for working hard while to their brothers, as we worry that they are not putting in the hours of study of their sisters, we convey, possibly very subtly, that their brains will probably get them through? I may be wrong about this but perhaps this week we could all try and find some reason to praise a girl for being smart and a boy for applying himself well.
Wishing you all a good Shabbos,
Mrs K Brice
Hasmonean High School for Girls