I am currently taking a course on Infant and Child development here at school.  We’ve been discussing physical, emotional and cognitive development throughout the semester, but I want to relate a quick blurb from today’s discussion.

Topic: Autobiographical Memory
Definition: representations of one-time events that are long-lasting because they are imbued with personal meaning.
Notes on the slide:

  • Parents help develop narrative
  • Girls usually better organized, detailed

Interesting!  The way parents interact with their children directs how children narrate and what topics they choose to include.  But why, specifically, are girls more organized and more detailed when describing their autobiographical memories than boys?  Is it just (a) girls are so much better than boys, (b) girls develop this particular type of mental representations faster than males, or (c) something I have not thought of yet?

I am not a big fan of my teacher, so I bring along my textbook to complement the bland slides and anecdotes. Thus, I quickly skimmed the page for the relevant information.  It says here in the book:

“These differences fit with variations in parent-child conversations.  Parents reminisce in greater detail and talk more about the emotional significance of events with daughters.”

However, instead of sharing this fascinating fact, our teacher asks the class why this might be so.  She basically ends up saying it was attributable to the fact that girls like to gossip more.  Girls like to talk and share details, even if they have already told/heard the story before.

I am very disappointed.  The original concept is very intriguing.  To repeat myself: the way parents interact with their children directs how children narrate and what topics they choose to include. Parents help enforce societal norms and focus development from day one.

But what did I leave the class with?  A stereotype… girls are good storytellers because they gossip more than boys.

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