Monday, 22 January 2007

Why Gender Matters

I listened to a very interesting arguments against co-education of children based on boys and girls sight, hearing, and smell being wired differently which caused them to learn differently.
Monday 22 January.

Interviewee was Leonard Sax,

Forget everything you think you know about gender differences in children. Forget "boys are competitive, girls are collaborative." In recent years, scientists have discovered that differences between girls and boys are more profound than anybody guessed. Specifically:
    The brain develops differently. In girls, the language areas of the brain develop before the areas used for spatial relations and for geometry. In boys, it's the other way around. A curriculum which ignores those differences will produce boys who can't write and girls who think they're "dumb at math."
    The brain is wired differently. In girls, emotion is processed in the same area of the brain that processes language. So, it's easy for most girls to talk about their emotions. In boys, the brain regions involved in talking are separate from the regions involved in feeling. The hardest question for many boys to answer is: "Tell me how you feel."
    Girls hear better. The typical teenage girl has a sense of hearing seven times more acute than a teenage boy. That's why daughters so often complain that their fathers are shouting at them. Dad doesn't think he's shouting, but Dad doesn't hear his voice the way his daughter does.
    Girls and boys respond to stress differently - not just in our species, but in every mammal scientists have studied. Stress enhances learning in males. The same stress impairs learning in females.

These differences matter. Some experts now believe that the neglect of hardwired gender differences in childrearing may increase a son's risk of becoming a reckless street racer, or a daughter's risk of experiencing an unwanted pregnancy.

Since the mid-1970's, educators have made a virtue of ignoring gender differences. The assumption was that by teaching girls and boys the same subjects in the same way at the same age, gender gaps in achievement would be eradicated. That approach has failed. Gender gaps in some areas have widened in the past three decades. The pro-portion of girls studying subjects such as physics and computer science has dropped in half. Boys are less likely to study subjects such as foreign languages, history, and music than they were three decades ago. The ironic result of three decades of gender blindness has been an intensifying of gender stereotypes.

For parents, Dr. Sax provides concrete guidelines regarding the tough issues of discipline, sex, and drug abuse, and other problem areas.

For educators, Dr. Sax offers practical suggestions to help break down gender stereotypes and help all children to reach their potential.

For everybody, Dr. Sax offers a provocative analysis of how gender influences every aspect of our lives.

Friday, 19 January 2007

OSGeo stand at Linux Australia conference

I've just come off the OSGeo stand at Linux Australia. Behind the stand were:
  • Tim Bowden
  • Milton Lofberg
  • Antel (sp?)
  • Myself

Every second person at the stand asked about data, to which we explained that there is very limited "free" data in Australia. Many of the participants were excited by the idea of an Open Street Map idea and said they would be keen to enter data if the project existed in Australia.
There were a few teachers and lecturers who came past. The guy I talked to said he used the ESRI stack for teaching. It was noted that if people are to use the Open Source stack then we need to start at the educational institutions. Teachers in this area should feed their notes back into the OSGeo Education group.
Proprietary verses Open Stack
There were a significant number of questions from users of the proprietary stack about equivalent applications for their current ESRI product. I used Arron Raciot's slide which shows a comparison between stacks a number of times. This slide should be converted into a handout and/or poster.
A guy from Red Hat offered his help to package up the Geospatial stack for the Red Had distribution. Apparently we need to look into "yum".
A guy from Gentoo showed me that QGIS is already being packaged for Gentoo. To get other packages included, we should add a bug report and set up a list of dependencies and documentation.
Wearable Computing
We chatting for a bit with Wayne Piekarski about wearable computing. He had some very sexy stuff. Wearing Virtual Reality glasses he could walk around an area and mix real backgrounds with virtual objects. There are opportunities to work with OSGeo here but we did not get much time to talk details before the crowds came and we had to go back to our tables.