Why Gender Matters

38.  Why Gender Matters: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know About the Emerging Science of Sex Differences
by Leonard Sax
Non-fiction for adults or mature teens
Read for my colloquia group
(Confession - I only read about three-quarters of this book)
My Library

I have been wanting to read this book for quite awhile, and I'm glad my colloquia gave me a good excuse to tackle it.  I was unable to make to the book discussion, so my comments lack the depth that they would have gained from my fabulous friends at colloquia!

This book discusses physiologically differences in males and females.  From vision, to hearing, to actual brain tissue; understanding these differences can help us to more effectively love, relate, and teach those around us.  I have not done exhaustive study on the topic, and Sax's perspective is the only one I'm familiar with on the subject of gender science.  But I do appreciate the invitation to reconsider the assumption that my own perspective is the same one through which others around me see the world.

A note on content:  The section on sex, and possibly some of the sections I didn't read, is very blunt, to the point that it is upsetting and may be objectionable to some readers.

Also, for a fun summary of this book as it relates to education, listen to Andrew Pudewa's lecture on the topic, "Teaching Boys & Other Children Who Would Rather Make Forts All Day."


Boys and girls show gender-typical toy preferences long before they understand gender.

In boys, as in men, the part of the brain where emotions happen is not well connected to the part of brain whee verbal processing and speech happens - unlike the situation in teenage girls and in women.

So: one reason many boys engage in physically dangerous activities may be that the danger itself gives the activity a pleasant tingle.  That's a tough concept for some women to grasp.  A mother who warns her son, "Don't ride your bike off the boardwalk.  You might get hurt," has missed the point.  Her son knows it's dangerous.  He's riding his bike off the boardwalk because it's dangerous.

Boys systematically over-estimate their own ability, while girls are more likely to under-estimate their abilities.

According to psychologist and criminologist Edwin McGargee, three-quarters of all murders are committed not by overtly aggressive people, but by quiet, seemingly well-behaved men who have never found a safe or appropriate outlet for their aggression.

"You can't turn a bully into a flower child.  But you can turn a bully into a knight."

The same jolt of electricity, the same blast of heat, will be experienced differently by girls and boys.  The girl will experience more pain.  This fundamental sex difference in sensory perception, mediated at the cellular level, amy conceivably play some role in boys' greater willingness to risk pain.

Many young boys are energized by confrontation and by time-constrained tasks.  Few young girls will flourish in high-pressure, do-it-in-five-seconds-or-you-lose formats.

Moderate stress improves boys' performance on tests...the same stress degrades young girls' performance on tests.

The areas of the brain involved in language and fine motor skills mature about six years earlier in girls than in boys, the areas of the brain involved in targeting and spatial memory mature about four years earlier in boys than in girls.

Sex differences in childhood are larger and more important than se differences in adulthood.


Teresa of Calcutta

37.  Teresa of Calcutta: Serving the Poorest of the Poor
by D. Jeanene Watson
Biography - from The Sowers Series
Read Aloud to my 13yo daughter
From Sonlight's Eastern Hemisphere Core
My Library

Mother Teresa is an amazing woman.  Both my daughter & I enjoyed learning more about her, putting a person behind the name.  The Sower's biographies lack soul, but still give a rich look into the lives of amazing people.

Favorite Quotes:
(The quotes from Mother Teresa are fabulous!!)

No one came forward to join her.  The entire community she hoped to establish still consisted of only one person: herself.

"I count it a great honor to have you share my home," he said.  "You do the work of God, and you will be treated as an honored guest."  In all the time Teresa lived at 14 Creek Lane, Michael Gomes never accepted any money for the services he provided.

To encourage a young and inexperienced girl to undertake such an awesome task put great responsibility upon Teresa's shoulders.  If Subhasini failed, then Teresa would share in that failure.

Teresa spoke to them, explaining the purpose of the Missionary Sisters of Charity.  "We are first of all Christians.  We are not social workers.  we serve Jesus, who comes in the form of poor people.  We nurse Him, feed Him, clothe Him, visit Him, and comfort Him.  We do it all for Jesus.  Let kindness be in your face, in your smile, in the warmth of your greeting.  Never think in terms of a crowd, only of one person.  Finally treat the poor alike whether they be Hindu, Christian, or Muslem.  Yes, treat them all the same.  We are not neutral concerning our religion; let your lives preach Christ."

Teresa explained, "First of all we make them feel they are wanted.  They learn that they are children of God.  For the few hours they have to live, they have His love and our love."

Teresa explained to the visitor..."This is the worst disease.  People have no time for their children, no time for each other, no time to enjoy each other.  Jesus Himself experienced this loneliness.  He came among His own and His own received Him not.  It hurt Him then and it has kept on hurting Him."

"We all have our shortcomings," Teresa said, "but the marvelous thing is that God uses us for His work, even with our weaknesses.  God writes through us, and however imperfect pencils we may be, he writes beautifully."

"Now let us do something beautiful for God."


The Squire's Tale

36.  The Squire's Tale
by Gerald Morris
YA Fiction - appropriate for 10-12+ (probably younger if read aloud)
My Library

Though my summer reading was embarrassingly full of sub-par adult fiction, I have decided that the best light reading is well done literature written for youth.  This book is a wonderful example.  A lovely escape from reality, with something to say about myth, love, and loyalty; this book is a fun rift on the tales of King Arthur.