This two-parter on BBC2 starting on Wednesday 16 August is definitely a must-see for teachers and parents alike, and makes for compulsive viewing. Doctor Javid Abdelmoneim wants to look beyond the biological and physical differences between girls and boys to see what makes them tick. Do actual psychological differences exist that can explain so many inequalities in life choices and opportunities between male and female – or are these down to the way we bring children up?
It’s clear from the science that there is no such thing as a male or female brain. The plasticity of the brain itself means that it develops according to the experiences we have, with the early ones being key.
Javid works with Year 3 at Lanesend Primary School on the Isle of Wight for six weeks to make the class ‘gender neutral’ and see whether the seven year olds involved will think and behave differently after the experiment. It’s truly shocking to see how these young children have already taken on attitudes and ideas about how their lives should be lived, based upon their gender. And adults don’t get off without their own ideas and attitudes being challenged either. One experiment makes it clear that gender conditioning is unconscious, and starts earlier than anyone might imagine…
Part 2 will be broadcast on Wednesday 23 August.