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Right off the mark

Much has been written lately about the under-achievement of boys. The trouble with such headline-making data like GCSE results is that they are not a serious analysis of cause.

My own school's exam results have done little to buck the national trend, with boys under-achieving girls by some 50 per cent in some groups. It would not surprise me if students with birthdays in the summer, students from deprived backgrounds (material and emotional) and if you worked at it, probably students with brown eyes or red hair also all under-achieved!

My experience suggests that part of the answer lies in a little developed psychological theory concerning brain dominance. Social scientists may argue about the data or the analysis, but my evidence over eight years suggests that it is a key factor. The theory of brain dominance has been pursued most famously by Tony Buzan, who first wrote about it in 1977.

In short, we are all dominated by one side of our brain, left or right. A series of simple tests reveals which. Right-brainers (as I call them) are emotional, arty, musical types, a little disorganised, often late and untidy. Left-brainers are logical, analytical, good at maths and computer-type things, quite organised and tidy. Left-brainers find factual recall from lists and books relatively easy, whilst right-brainers find it almost impossible.

The problem for boys and under-achievers in general is that they are often right-brained. Education is mainly presented in a left-brained kind of way: written facts, lists, factual recall, being organised and tidy, on time and accurate. Learning is much easier for right-brainers, in music, colour, image and in the spoken word (their own) but this is not often the way lessons, teaching and learning is conducted.

T Averre-Beeson is deputy head at Alec Hunter High School, Braintree, Essex

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