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Factors in the Development of Spatial Cognition in Boys and Girls

Assessing the Impacts of Biology and Navigational Experience

Mariah G. Schug

ABSTRACT

Spatial cognition represents one of the best-established sex differences in cognitive science. There is a pervasive tendency for males to outperform females on multiple spatial reasoning tasks. While prenatal hormones may provide a foundation for these differences, childhood experience also plays an important role. The current article examines how biological factors may interact with environmental and cultural factors. Of particular interest is the cross-cultural literature in which children’s naturalistic experiences exploring their environments can be linked to the development of spatial skills. Based on the examined research, children who gain more navigational experience tend to perform better on spatial tasks. Because boys typically have greater opportunities to explore and navigate, this difference in experience may contribute to the observed sex differences in spatial performance.

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Back in Time Yet of His Time

Marty McFly as a 1980s Teenage Boy Role Model

Daniel Smith-Rowsey

Recent years have seen the relative sheltering—some say coddling, some say helicopter-parenting—of twenty-first century American boys when compared with the boyhoods of their fathers, as recounted in a surfeit of articles like “The Overprotected Kid

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Destination Museum

A Conversation with Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett

Conal McCarthy

What was the first museum you remember visiting?

I was born in September 1942 during the war. My parents came from Poland. Three weeks after I was born, 6,500 Jews from my father’s hometown, Opatów (Apt, in Yiddish), 65% of the population, disappeared overnight. All but 500 were sent to the Treblinka death camp, and the rest to a forced labour camp. So I grew up in an immigrant neighbourhood in the immediate postwar years. I went through an ultra-Orthodox period (my parents were horrified). I became not only strictly kosher, but also I observed the Sabbath very strictly. That meant I could not ride, spend money, turn on the radio, write, tear paper . . . I could do almost nothing. Except . . . I could walk to the Royal Ontario Museum. . . . and I did. So this was before the era of helicopter parents. At the age of 10, 11, 12 years old, I would walk out of my house, through Queen’s Park, to the ROM, and that was my beloved childhood museum.