Tales from the Synapse, a nature.com podcast, just released an episode called:
“Social sponges: Gendered brain development comes from society, not biology”.
It’s a great conversation with Dr. Gina Rippon, Emeritus Professor of Cognitive Neuroimaging at the Aston Brain Centre, Aston University, in Birmingham England. Dr. Rippon has spent her career discovering and debunking theories about the male and female brain. The piece also provides another example of a well-intended world-class scientist using language to describe the effects of learning in ways that obfuscate our awareness of learning’s role in the effects. But, before going into the “other words for learning” aspect of the piece – the “Gendered Brain”.
In the piece, Dr. Rippon describes how her own learning journey led her to exploring whether there is a difference between the male human brain and the female human brain.
“I discovered that actually, this well-established belief that there are two different kinds of brains doesn’t have a lot of sound research behind it. So, I got drawn into the whole issue of where differences come from in terms of if we look at gender gaps in the world, for example. And if there’s no evidence that there is such a thing as a male brain or a female brain, where do these differences come from?”
That question leads on to a series of examples of how gendered behaviors beget more gendered behaviors. How kids are “influenced”, “conditioned”, and “differentiate the outer world” – how they are provided “training opportunities” – how they become “gender detectists” who “pick up” messages and cues and “acquire” gender behaviors. Paragraph after paragraph she describes how learning genderizes the gender we become. Learning doesn’t determine gender – learning determines genderization. The whole piece is a great example of “other words for learning” and why changing the way we think about learning can change how we learn about everything.