My unscientific view on sex segregated education

I got my NOW newsletter in my email today and Kim Gandy’s Column got me thinking.

Firstly, I think it makes a lot of great points. I especailly like the following.

“But enough science. Let’s talk fairness, and even justice, because that’s what this is really all about. When we separate the sexes, we perpetuate the concept that men and women can’t get along, and that male harassment of women is best handled by building a wall, not by changing the behavior and its motivation. This is the coward’s way of dealing with the problem, and it serves to drive the sexes further apart, socializing our kids to perpetuate these divisions throughout their lives.”

At one point I heard (I can’t remember where so don’t ask me to cite it) that girls do better in girls only classes but studies showed no improvement for boys in boys only classes. Apparently the rambunctious nature of boys was inhibiting the learning process.

Let’s go read that block quote again, shall we? Why not hold boys responsible for being too rambunctious in class. Why not try to change the socialisation of girls and boys to teach ALL children to be polite and listen to teachers. I know, it’s difficult and boys will be boys, right?

But that is true even if we hold them to higher standards of behavior. Insisting that they pay attention in class does not castrate them or change which gender they choose to identify as.

Published in: on September 20, 2007 at 1:42 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. Bah. Why don’t we give up on the idea of institutionalised education altogether? People learn things differently, which is primarily (to my mind, anyway) what makes educating children so damn hard, because you try to make them do it all the same way, by the same standards, and the ones who can work the system win and the ones who don’t fail (and later on drop out).

    While it’s good preparation for later life (i.e., learn to work with the system because resisting it will fuck you up forever), it doesn’t really accomplish its task of educating. Unless rote memorization is something to celebrate. To a degree I suppose it is — basic math skills come to mind — but schools tend to fall down, and fall down hard, when it comes to critical thinking. That’s what college is for! … except when you don’t get to college because you never learned to work with your high school/middle school/grade school/kindergarten/preschool standards anyway.

    In the meantime, though … we have institutionalised education. And yes, girls sometimes do better in all-girl environments while boys show no marked improvement (I’ve come across that study too). But you’re right — that does very little (for most people, anyway, I’m not saying never) to prepare them for adult interactions, where they do interact, frequently, with and sometimes directly compete against other sexes. And I’m all for teaching boys, at a young age, that being a boy/man isn’t about being the opposite/dominant/oppressor of girls/women, that neither virtue nor vice is an explicitly male or female thing.

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