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In the feature article “How Male and Female Students Use Language Differently” the author Deborah Tannen, explains how men and women communicate differently in the classroom and reveals how she thinks classrooms everywhere can become a more conducive learning environment for all types of people regardless of gender. Tannen firstly points out the research conducted by Janet Lever, Marjorie Harness Goodwin and Donna Eder and how they’ve discovered that girls and boys do in fact learn to use language differently.
For example, girls will use language to share secrets and talk with her friends. Girls form bonds with the ones they talk most with and that is how they form their friendships. On the other hand, boys tend to play in large groups and form a hierarchy where they are expected to use language in order to show strength and challenge each other. Tannen then compares this research to the classroom where it can be easier for boys to speak in front of a large audience than for girls because this is how boys were taught to communicate.
With this knowledge, the author then decides to use her own classroom for research and breaks up her classroom at Georgetown University into small groups based on their gender and social aptitude. She discovered that when her students were able break apart from the larger arena of the classroom and instead share their ideas with small groups that they were more willing to participate in the discussion and felt better with the way they were communicating.
Tannen leaves us by explaining that while yes, treating everyone as equals is great but does that mean that we should be treating everyone the same? If we are fundamentally different than shouldn’t we be taking that into consideration when trying to serve a diverse set of students.
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