Gender Differences in Intelligence - Essay Example

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In general, developmental theories reflect the proportional extent to which nature and nurture are perceived to control the outcomes and course of development during the early years of life (Alloway, 1997). Contemporary theories consider the influences of heredity and maturation indicate the nature viewpoint, and influences of environmental and behavioural factors would designate the nurture position…
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Gender Differences in Intelligence Essay
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Download file to see previous pages Therefore, these theoretical orientations emphasize that over time, different sets of conditions may influence the changes in children's behaviour in different stages of development (Piaget, 1952). Both the maturational and psychoanalytic theories highlight the influence of these internal variables in development of intellectual acumen and behaviour of children in relation to age. From that perspective, early childhood development can be considered to be expression of inborn predispositions primarily, which is an invariant innate process. According to these theories, a child's learning and intellectual development proceed according to a prefixed biologically dictated plan, which could have been determined by the specifics of genetics at the moment of conception. Therefore individual variations in intelligence and cognitive abilities can be reflections of differences in genetic traits. These theories which emphasize the dominant and determining role of innate and internal biological factors as primary driving forces of early development can be categorized traditionally as nature side of developmental explanations. There is, however, considerable similarity among young children in the early part of their development when learning and education begin. These are best understood by maturational theories. It can be argued that if changes in children's behaviours and intelligence are conceived to be originating from inborn traits primarily, the role of adults would be to just provide appropriate conditions based on appropriate interpretations (Alloway, 1997). However, theories of education in early childhood are based on the belief that parenting and teaching can have considerable impact on the course of young children's development, both educational and intellectual (Jones Diaz and Robinson, 2000).
Gender is a significantly important equity issue to be addressed with young children's' development and has consequently been incorporated into educational programmes in early childhood. Over time, research in this area has increased understanding and awareness of the ways gender operating in young children's lives, at least in the early phase of development. Years over, researchers have proposed that spatial and mathematical abilities domains point at gender differences in cognitive abilities since they were known to yield marked differences favouring the males (Ingraham, 1994). Other studies have revealed that throughout elementary school, girls clock better grades in mathematics and other subjects in comparison to the boys. Some researchers have shown that boys' advantage in mathematics is not prominent until secondary school. Current research throwing a close look at children's performance on specific intelligence and cognitive ability test items reveals that both genders are equal in basic knowledge in mathematics with girls doing better in skills of computation. Despite controversies, boys' advantage appears in reasoning involving geometry and complex word problems. If mathematics or being good at mathematics is a measure of intelligence in early childhood, therefore, girls are no less than the boys (Katz, 1982).
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