The battle of the sexes is rearing it’s head again after the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit against a school claiming the segregation of children based on gender reinforces stereotypes.
The ACLU has an entire campaign on the topic called Teach Kids, Not Stereotypes. In it they say “a significant number of the schools articulated no justification whatsoever for their programs, other than a belief that gender-differentiated teaching is its own good.”
So what of this conventional wisdom that says boys and girls learn differently and should be separated to avoid distraction?
After the jump, the myth debunked.
Q is an arts and culture CBC radio program hosted by Jian Ghomeshi. They recently had a debate on the topic of single gender schools and while they did invite Mary Ladky, the headmistress of a female-only high school on the program, she was schooled by Lise Eliot, the author of The Pseudo Science of Single Sex Schooling.
Ladky’s argument revolves around the comfort level of her students. She says her students “can thrive socially and to take risks academically.” She went on to say the “girls felt more comfortable finding their own voices, and asserting themselves when they were schooling with other girls.”
“Putting resources into single sex education is a step backwards. There are a bunch of quacks out there who don’t have a scientific pedigree who are digging through the science to try and claim that boys and girls learn differently.” – Lise Eliot
Eliot dismissed it all as myth saying the main reason for improved performance at segregated schools was because the schools are private.
“It’s been this wonderful privilege in many private and parochial schools that have great outcomes,” she said. “So people assume it’s a better form of education. It’s simply a byproduct of the fact that the kids come from advantaged families, the classrooms are small and very dedicated. So these are just better schools all around.”
Some of the tactics segregated schools use take learning lessons to the extreme. Boys are not to be looked at in the eye, lights are bright, and lesson plans revolve around competition. Girls, on the other hand, are sat in small circles in dimly lit rooms where they are encouraged to cooperate.
“There was a place for women’s colleges and high schools back in a day when sexism was really overt,” says Eliot. “We are not beyond sexism yet, but how are boys and girls going to learn to recognize if they don’t have the opportunity to witness it first hand?”
I went to an all boys for Grade 8, but switched to a co-ed school for the rest of high school. I didn’t really like the all-boy scene. I was a small kid, and the push to football and overblown male smell in the hallways made me uncomfortable. I switched to a co-ed school in Grade 9 and flourished.
My kids currently go to a co-ed private school so they can get a head start on french immersion. Once Grade 1 rolls around, they’ll transition to the public system and stay co-ed.
What about you? Do you have single sex / co-ed experiences that have formed your opinion on the issue? What kind of schooling environment have you chosen for your kids?
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