Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Does teacher gender affect student success?

Didn't get enough arguing in yesterday's debate over stressed-out students? Well, get ready to rumble: Here comes another edu-hot-potato that should get blood pressures roiling.

In the Fall issue of Education Next (a quarterly publication from Stanford University's Hoover Institution), Thomas Dee examines "How a Teacher's Gender Affects Boys and Girls."

Dee, an associate professor in the Department of Economics at Swarthmore College and faculty research fellow of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), comes to a startling conclusion:
Simply put, girls have better educational outcomes when taught by women, and boys are better off when taught by men.
Check out the Associated Press' analysis of Dee's article (via CNN.com).

Not everyone is buying Dee's conclusion, according to the AP. "'I don't think there are many parents or students, looking back over their educational careers, who haven't been inspired by a teacher of the opposite sex,'" says Marcia Greenberger, co-president of the National Women's Law Center, which works to advance the progress of women. "'And many have had very unhappy experiences with teachers of the same gender that they are. We have to be careful of too many generalizations.'"

But Dee argues "his research raises valid questions," according to the AP. "Should teachers get more training about the learning styles of boys and girls? Should they be taught to combat biases in what they expect of boys and girls?"


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