Monthly Archives: April 2005

Why Gender Matters

I just read a book by Leonard Sax called Why Gender Matters: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know About the Emerging Science of Sex Differences. The book was lent to me by a colleague, and my expectations were quite low.

On the whole, though, I was plesantly surprised. Sax’s thesis is that boys and girls develop and learn at different rates and in different ways and that teaching (and parenting) should reflect this reality. He builds a pretty substantial case for this at the beginning of the book, citing quite a bit of recent research that was previously unfamiliar to me. Unfortunately, he falls off the research wagon around the middle of the book and starts grinding his own ax (same gender education) without a lot of support to back it up.

In any case, I was expecting a right-wing polemic, but that’s not what I got. Sax outright rejects the hypothesis, for instance, that boys are naturally more inclined to like math and science, concluding instead that our schools tend to teach math and science in a way more suited to the learning styles of boys. (Just as, he claims, they tend to teach art and literature in a way that is better suited for girls.) He also notes that many of these developmental differences vanish by about 18 years of age, so he primarily advocates single-sex K-12 education.

I don’t buy all of Sax’s claims, and I think that some of his non-research-based suggestions are downright loopy. (For instance, I think requiring your teen to wear a GPS tracking device is over the top.) But his book did open my eyes to some research that I hadn’t seen before, and at least held forth the possibility of a middle road on issues of gender differences. If you’re interested in such things, I suppose that I could recommend at least the first third or half of the book.

Google Maps

The things that people are doing with Google Maps are just amazing. This site takes housing listings from the infamous craigslist and uses them to annotate a Google Map. Just amazing. I’d really like to know how they do that.

And lots of people have been using Google Maps to snag satellite photos of their hometowns, upload them to Flickr and then annotate them. I’d actually enjoy doing that with everywhere I have lived to date: Knoxville, Nashville, and Ithaca. When I checked for Ithaca the other day, though, the satellite imagery was really lousy. Also, it appears to work better for people who live in compact urban areas (like when I lived in Nashville) rather than suburbs or small towns.

Update: The satellite imagery for the Vanderbilt area of Nashville is really crummy, too. 🙁 I can start with Knoxville, though.