Segregating the Sexes

by Brett & Kate McKay on March 4, 2008 · 60 comments

in Relationships & Family

schoolboys.jpg
Photo from John Collier, Jr.

Last week’s New York Times Magazine had an article about the trend towards segregating boys and girls in America’s public school classrooms.

Segregating by gender used to be the exclusive domain of private and religious schools. But failing public schools are turning to gender segregation with hopes that it can help turn around poor academic performance, especially among boys.

I’m sure many of you remember the “girls crisis” in the 1990′s. Educators and social scientists claimed that the classroom’s competitive atmosphere damaged girls’ self-esteem, discouraging them from excelling in math and science.

Ten years later, girls are excelling and boys are struggling. We solved one problem, but created another. Some educators believe that to solve this quandary, gender segregation is the way to go. But it is far from a settled issue.

Are boys and girls different?

The idea behind gender segregated classrooms is that boys and girls do indeed learn differently. According to proponents of gender segregation, male and female brains are hardwired to develop and learn differently and at different rates. Studies from the National Institute of Mental Health back up these claims. After analyzing cat scans from 829 boys and girls, scientists discovered that total cerebral volume peaks at 10.5 years in girls and 14.5 years for boys. Thus, girls have bigger brains than boys during most of elementary school (this is how they travel to Mars to get more candy bars). The scientists who conducted the study, however, were quick to note that differences in brain size don’t correlate to differences in learning ability.

That hasn’t stopped educators from using studies like this to support the evidence they see firsthand in their classrooms. According to one teacher, when teaching boys:

You need to keep them up and moving. You need to engage boys’ energy.

However, most classrooms in America aren’t designed to keep children moving. You’re told to be quiet, sit “Indian-style” (oh wait, that got squashed by the PC police-it’s now “criss-cross applesauce), and not touch the kid next to you. All children are, as one educator put it, told to behave like girls.

Some educators believe that this demand on boys to behave like “little ladies” has resulted in dismal statistics for boys: boys are nearly twice as likely as girls to be suspended; more likely to drop out of high school; boys makeup 2/3 of special education students; and are 2.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD.

Several schools that have switched to gender segregation have seen these statistics significantly improve.

The Benefits of Gender Segregated Classes

By segregating genders, educators believe they can better tailor lesson plans for their students need. For boys they can create non-stop lessons that keep the boys’ attention. Being active is an integral part of boy-focused lesson plans.

Another benefit that comes with segregating genders, especially when dealing with adolescents, is the de-sexualization of the classroom. One teacher commented that teaching at an all girls school allows her to be freer when covering lessons that touch on sex. She doesn’t have to “worry about some boy laughing over the thing he did with the girl last weekend and embarrass her.”

A final benefit is that gender segregation gives students a positive sense of themselves. Boys can be loud rambunctious boys without having to worry about being chastised, and girls don’t have to worry about competing for attention with those rowdy boys.

Does it really work?

Whether gender segregation actually helps improve academic performance is yet to be seen. The data so far shows mixed results: gender segregation doesn’t seem to affect the achievement of middle-class, white boys; they do benefit poor and minority children.

What do you think?

What do you all think? Should schools start segregating classrooms based on gender? Take part in the poll and let your voice be heard:

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{ 60 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Justin March 4, 2008 at 11:39 pm

Dum… how about instead of by gender, by gender identity?

This site is slightly misogynistic. Just sayin’. That Frank Sinatra article almost made me want to not follow this site.

2 Neal March 5, 2008 at 5:33 am

Would gender segregation put boys at a further disadvantage for social development?

3 Bob Ragsdale March 5, 2008 at 5:35 am

Interesting. I think the poll is off in that it poses the broad question of “Should classrooms be segregated by gender?” instead of “Should public school classrooms be segregated by gender?” which would better relate back to the article cited.I do believe that private schools should have the option to segregate if they wish, but public schools should not. Learning how to learn and behave in the presence is as valuable a skill as (if not more valuable than) math, or social studies. Public schools are to a large extent designed to help socialize our youth and part of that socialization comes from interacting with the opposite sex.

4 Brett & Kate McKay March 5, 2008 at 5:39 am

@Bob Ragsdale:

Excellent point Bob. In fact the article made that exact point, I just forgot to mention it.

5 Mitch Ross March 5, 2008 at 5:11 pm

Remind me of the (now old) book “The War Against Boys”. Imagine a whole book on the causes & effects of telling little boys to behave like girls.

Man, I ought to be getting a comission….

6 Cole Kelly March 5, 2008 at 6:25 pm

@ Bob Ragsdale: I disagree. If our nation requires an educated populace to function correctly, the national schools should do everything it can to produce this result. While I agree every child must learn socialization skills, I believe these should occur in the home or community surrounding the child. I don’t think young people have a problem socializing, I think the bigger problem is teaching critical thought, math and science skills, and historical perspective. If having same gender classrooms has more success at producing these results, I think it’s in our best interests, as a nation, to make the change.

For more reading, I just finished a very interesting (and scary) book by Leonard Sax, MD: Boys Adrift. He talks very cogently about the differences between boys and girls learning needs and how they respond to outside stimuli (i.e., video games). As a father to three young boys and a former director of a girls summer camp, I can attest to the very different childhoods of boys and girls.

And, though I’m interested to find out more about the results from the current experiments, I would not hesitate to place my boys in a single sex classroom if the opportunity presented itself.

Thanks for the conversation – I think its an incredibly important topic to pursue!

7 Oracle of Delaware March 5, 2008 at 9:44 pm

What??? Boys and girls are different?? Who said?

Social order existed in schools when girls were required to wear female specific clothing. ie: dresses, skirts. This practice reminded everyone that school is a formal institution. Girl behavior was recognized as critical to the socilization of awkward and boisterious boys.

Proper apparel set the behavior standards, and set the boys and girls apart in realistic examples of the situations they will face in real life.

Since the fem/nazis have debunked this practice what do we have now? Ganster chic, teenie bopper slut costumes, gender identification confusion, and a [maybe?] woman running for president that is never seen in public wearing a dress.

Women lose some of their natural power when they wear pants in formal situations.

8 Jennifer Lynn March 6, 2008 at 11:37 am

I came across your (fabulous, by the way!) blog by way of Brazen Careerist, and I hope you’ll suffer a female voice in the boys club.

My first reaction after reading the NYtimes article the other day was “Great idea!” There’s nothing wrong with admitting that girls and boys both mature and learn differently, and allowing for that reality. I also have to point out that sometimes the realities of puberty get in the way of the necessities of learning, and in an educational environment, the learning should come first. We already have a grossly undereducated public, if there is something we can do to overcome that (within reason), I say bring it on.

Btw: @ “Oracle:” Why must some people insist on equating feminism with Nazis and disparaging brilliant, competent Hillary and her pantsuits every time anyone brings up gender issues? Sheesh! I mean, I’m for Obama, but seriously…

9 Jack March 6, 2008 at 12:59 pm

My church recently separated the teen boys and girls into separate Sunday School classes, just to test it out. As one of the boys’ teachers, I have found that it is, if nothing else, quite a bit easier on us teachers to include the whole class into activities. I can have physically demanding games, and the smaller guys don’t begrudge it like the girls did. The atmosphere itself seem to be a bit more comfortable too, and the guys are more willing to open up and join the discussion. I believe the female teachers have been reporting similar results, when they’re not walking between the rooms to tell us to be quieter. = )

10 Brett & Kate McKay March 6, 2008 at 1:49 pm

@Jennifer Lynn:

We welcome women here to join in the conversation! Thanks for your comment!

11 Brett & Kate McKay March 6, 2008 at 1:51 pm

@Jack:

We do this as well at my church. I teach the boys as well and I agree separating them from the girls facilitates in the opening up discussion.

12 Oracle of Delaware March 6, 2008 at 3:15 pm

@Jennifer Lynn:

You are correct about the nazi comment. Thank you for your careing guidence, critical analysis, and patience.

What I should have said is: Hillary is a brilliant and competent communist in a dumpy pantsuit and dresses like the bride of Mao.

13 Bronson March 7, 2008 at 7:14 am

Oracle, if you’re going to come out of your AM radio egg sack to comment, you might try consuming some information from outside of it as well. You’re obviously sucking at the teat of Limbaugh. You’re not all the way there yet, though, because you haven’t figured out a way to blame illegal immigrants as well.

As for your “argument:” You appear to believe that the entire problem rests in the way girls dress. This implies that, like the hydrocephalic ditto-head you are, you beleive we should just all just take a time machine back to the 50s and that women should just act “like women” (IE behave themselves, get married, get pregnant…wear skirts?)

For myself, I think it’s an interesting idea – the school itself doesn’t need to be segregated, so the socialization element doesn’t really apply. Unfortunately, it’s impractical, and probably even illegal, for a public school to segregate anything.

14 Brett March 7, 2008 at 8:45 am

@Justin:

So, sites the celebrate manhood are misogynistic? Seriously? I’m trying to think of a word stronger than “ridiculous”, but am coming up empty. I’ll get back to you on that.

And I’d be interested to hear your ideas for this “gender identity segregation” solution – maybe we could round up all the children and show them pictures of scantily-clad adults and see which sparks more of an interest! That would be a totally healthy way to approach it. Maybe we could issue them all birkenstocks and a misguided sense of entitlement, too!

Your comment is a waste of bandwidth. Just sayin’. Kindly go hate dudes somewhere else, thanks!

15 Lindsey March 7, 2008 at 7:13 pm

Another girl sneaking into the boys’ club.

I think it’s great that there is a site promoting the idea that men can be manly. I especially agree with the notion that men of my generation are having difficulty “growing up”. It’s nice to see that there are men out there encouraging these guys to man up and get moving in life. Fantastic work, I’m sending all the men in my life to this site.

As a wise man once said, “Don’t be a guy; be a man!”

16 Catherine March 8, 2008 at 7:34 am

I just have one reservation about the proposition of sex-segregated classrooms. I have to wonder what will become of tomboys and boys with a tendency to effeminate behaviour. Could it hyper-normalize typical behaviour and marginalize different children even further? I know when I was little, I never got along with girls. I only played with boys until I was almost 12 years old. I just hope that where segregation happens, care is taken to include those with an atypical temperament.

Great site, btw.

17 Brett March 8, 2008 at 8:20 am

@Catherine:

Interesting point Catherine. My wife was a tomboy and enjoyed running around with the boys. But she also liked to be around just girls, too.

Also, thanks for the kind words. I’m glad that women enjoy the site and take part in it as well.

18 Kate McKay March 8, 2008 at 8:26 am

@Catherine-

Yeah, Brett is right I was a tomboy and much preferred hanging out with the boys. My big concern with segregated classrooms is how part of the idea is that girls will like talking more about stuff together and boys will like more active and competitive activities. But I loved activity and competition when I was a girl. I know I would have been looking at the boys’ classroom with an envious eye. I think the best idea is to have some of the classes segregated-like math and science-and some of them not. That way you get the best of both worlds.

19 thePiper March 11, 2008 at 8:44 pm

It seems there are two possible reasons for sex-segregated classrooms. The first could be to account for different learning styles (tactile, vs auditory etc), and the second could be to create safe spaces where boys and girls aren’t distracting each other. I’m all for the idea of safe spaces for boys and girls to learn in, if that is the goal then by all means go for it.

I do take issue with the idea of separating boys and girls to teach them in different styles. Sex is a unreliable indicator of learning styles. Certainly there is a correlation between sex and learning style, but there are significant numbers of boys and girls that defy the stereotype and they need to be accounted for.

I also take issue with the idea that the ‘sit still and listen while I lecture you’ style of teaching is new, and was thought up by women to help girls succeed in schools. That was the default style of teaching long before women were ever allowed near a school house. Which is to say it’s not the feminist’s fault that your son’s teacher wants him to sit still and listen while she lectures him- that’s how teaching has been done for millennia.

20 amy March 13, 2008 at 11:17 am

wow, great comments- good job (almost) everyone! i do shy away from anyone that thinks putting little susie back in a skirt would solve anyone’s problems…just sayin.

what a tricky issue. i can really understand the concern for the kids that don’t fit into the gender normative teaching style, although i, myself would have fared much better if we could have stopped taking breaks every half hour to play dodgeball…even as a nine-year-old i remember thinking “hey, team, this is school. play ball on your own time!”

these kinds of questions overwhelm me and make me want to escape to a commune where i can educate my children in peace, maybe trade kids from time to time with educated and competent friends, at least until the kids are teenagers.

i think the real solution is to put a whole bunch of W’s trillions into the education system and create much smaller classrooms with much better teachers. but that’s dandelion fluff, i know. i just think that the problem is way larger than whether boys and girls are in class together. perhaps if those hyperactive boys didnt have a mountain dew dispensing machine in every hallway and gummy ranchers (exclusively) for lunch they would fare better. perhaps if the girls weren’t reading magazines about which celebrity is most likely to be their death crush, they would feel more comfortable in a more vigorous learning environment. perhaps segregating them kids would help…but perhaps it wouldnt address the real issues.

21 David April 11, 2008 at 8:20 am

I went to an all boys high school and dress with a shirt and tie everyday. This wasn’t some ‘back in the good ol 50s’ thing, this was in 1999-2003. When I was going to school at the time, I was bummed there were no girls around for me to take a look at, with my fiercely raging hormones commanding my every move. But as time went on at the school, I felt that overall it was a much better atmosphere for learning. Us teenage boys didn’t have to worry about trying to be “the man” and impressing a bunch of teenage girls (that was done at Friday night football games anyway!). We were able to focus more on our studies, and I’m sure our teachers planned their lessons out to teach boys specifically.

I do think there needs to be SOME interaction between boys and girls….activities planned by the schools that can mix up the genders and have the kids interact. Coed after school clubs? Intramurals? While I believe that a lot of learning atmospheres should kept gender separate, you shouldn’t keep boys and girls from complete interaction.

22 Mr.Lomax April 27, 2008 at 12:55 am

I was surprised to notice that more people voted yes. I am undecided because we don’t actually know if segregation works and could also create a bigger emphasis on gender differences… that’s how feminism started; we don’t need that again.

If it works, I’ll welcome the idea.

23 Revamp May 5, 2008 at 4:17 am

Having been through both all-male and mixed I must say that the former seemed to create a far more tense and unappealing atmosphere. The presence of girls for some reason makes both teachers and students aware that they are human beings.

I would suggest that a great number of the problems comes from disparity of treatment delivered by parents. A study showed, for instance, that children wrapped in blue were more likely to be treated as if they should not be crying by nurses looking after them, while those in pink were treated in a more considerate and soothing fashion. As these differences in treatment pre-date the differences in character I would suggest that the source of the diversity is the care given, rather than the differences instructing the care.

This would only be exacerbated by division down the {misleading an entirely arbitrary} line of what sexual organs the child happens to posses. Indeed I would suggest that the more integration that occurs the better: interaction slays bigotry and I feel that there is an increasing amount of this, since misogyny is weakening but simply being replaced by ascendant misandry.

This is no improvement, to my mind, and we would be fools to provoke more of it.

24 Mackenzie May 8, 2008 at 8:46 pm

Should the gay boys be put in the girls’ classes and the lesbians in the boys’ classes to keep the sexual tensions away too? Oh, but then what do we do with the bisexuals? What about transgender, genderqueer, and intersex children?

thePiper is right about “sit down and shut up” being perfectly normal school rules, not “girl stuff.”

Boys are more often diagnosed with ADHD, this is true. It’s also true that they have a higher tendency to be disruptive in displaying their ADHD tendencies, while we are more likely to zone out. I wasn’t diagnosed until college because I was the semi-quiet girl staring out the window, rather than the boy throwing pencils across the room. We are generally ignored by the teachers who don’t connect zoning out, talking out of turn, and forgetting assignments constantly with ADHD because all they know is “bad kids who run around and throw things have ADHD.”

Those high school drop out rates and everything else listed? Guess what? Those could have a lot to do with ADHD. ADHD kids are much more likely to drop out of high school because they don’t know how to direct their ADHD constructively. That’s a matter of treating the ADHD and teaching the kids how to work with their ADHD, not against it. ADHD can be a great blessing if you know how to take advantage of the unique ways it lets you work. Nobody teaches ADHD kids how to work with what they’ve got. Either you learn to see how hyperfocusing can lead to great results and how easily being bored can lead to studying a wide range of topics, or you struggle.

25 Tallal Tarik May 14, 2008 at 3:14 pm

Well I have studied in both segregated and mixed classes. My experiences of the segregated classes were comparatively better than mixed classes not only in terms of good grades but also in understanding the practical realities of life.
Socializing with the opposite sex is mostly learnt in childhood and adolescence through your parents’ interactions with each other rather than through your own personal experiences and this is what is manifested in our behaviors later in life.
Real time experience is not the sole way of learning, the real learning comes when you tend to analyze it rather than to forget it over night.
So I think when it comes to school education then it is better to have separate classes.

26 apollonian May 15, 2008 at 9:35 pm

Can there be any doubt that American cultural and educational trends have influenced the academic ascent of girls at the expense of boys? I’m most concerned that the last few generations men are failing their boys. The denigrated role of fatherhood, authority and “male” characteristics and competition indicted for leading girls to an “unhealthy self-image.” And still, the question of how 40 years of accommodating the supposed special educational needs of girls in a coed environment is hardly ever asked. This despite hard numbers showing declining trends in male high school graduation rates, college admission applications, and the inverse upward trend of male imprisonment.

Obviously, women are not to blame as they cannot be expected to understand manhood.

No, it’s the generations of fathers who’ve rolled over and let their sons grow up in an educational and social context that increasingly vilifies manhood. Fathers have willingly let women redefine how boys are to be molded and brought into manhood. As the number of male teachers at all levels of public education has declined over the last four decades, too many unformed male egos are captive to an exclusively gynocentric agenda.

More men really need to start giving a damn about their boys. They need to recognize that the best characteristics of manhood have become malnourished in context of a culture with myopic focus on “women’s issues,” wrecking the potential for ever more boys to embrace their birthright manhood.

27 Adrian May 25, 2008 at 4:33 pm

I cite one of the articles about Franklin’s 13 virtues. Avoid extremes.

I don’t think we should schedule our young one’s primary education based on their posession of a plug or a socket. Though I’ll admit I have observed a correlation. I think we should allow students to gravitate toward where they feel they can succeed.

In some places you’ll find they’ll naturally segregate. In all 8 shop classes I took in high school, there were three girls. Two of them in one, one of them in another. The other 6 classes were total sausage fests.

You honestly wouldn’t find too many males in “Teen Living.” Part of the curriculum involved carrying around those “doesn’t being a parent suck?” baby dolls.

In some places, like history, it wouldn’t really help to segregate the sexes. We all hated history. French class basically couldn’t be taught without both boys and girls there. In my experience band classes must be integrated. Girls tend toward woodwinds and boys tend toward brass and percussion. I remember exceptions who excelled at their atypical choice of horn, though.

And honestly, I think there should be some professional interaction between girls and boys because the workplace is integrated and each needs to know how to work with the other, not just how to play with the other.

I also think we’re looking at the wrong end of the problem. Most of what is taught in high school can be ignored anyway because it doesn’t become useful later on, so the high school diploma is a badge of the ability to sit through 13 years of crap. the 2 year and 4 year college degrees are beginning to be the same. It is more common for Americans–especially women–to have at least a high school diploma, but we’re dumber than ever. I think the curriculum as a whole needs to be mulled over.

28 Tron June 1, 2008 at 8:30 am

I think it’s just the education system in general.
I mean 50 years ago they didn’t have gender segregation. Does that mean 2 generations of society are inferior? No.
I dunno, I’m not a parent, but it seems to me that kids these days have no damn respect for anybody (and im only in my 20′s saying this). I dont just mean teens going through the whole ‘rebellion’ thing, i mean i’ve heard 6 and 7 year olds swearing at everything and everybody.
I think it’s just parents not doing a decent job of parenting (in general it seems).
My parents raised me fairly well I think, they weren’t too harsh or over protective, but i knew the rules and knew there would be consequences if they were broken.
Also I was taught (as a kid) if the teachers talking then I shut up and pay him/her some attention.
Just basic fundementals. Ok i kind of deviated I just think gender segregation is a dumb idea. Why not homeschool everyone? Then the boys wont group together and get ‘uppity’. Sorry, but school is one of the key places a child learns about and deals with social interaction. and Guess what? Dealing with the opposite sex IS part of social interaction (crazy I know!), so I think you’d be limiting kids exposure to what will become a daily part of life for them in the future.

29 Lisa June 22, 2008 at 12:58 am

I was a bit of a tomboy as kid, I would have hated to have to sit there with my hands crossed like girl would probably be expected. I think segregation by learning style might work, but on the other hand kids will have to learn to deal with multiple kinds of people. E.g. shy quiet kids desperately need the practice of having to wrestle their opinion through, whether they like it at that stage or not.

30 the_kcar July 16, 2008 at 10:19 am

My thoughts.
Segregation by gender for some days, coed for some, each in rotation, to address gender -oriented learning issue.

How to incorporate it realistically, without it eating up the time constraints of the process of timely education: hold sessions the way the working world operates: 40-hour weeks, year-round, vacations of two-week intervals, and set these schedules in stone – so that the first quarter of every year is not spent entirely in review of everything the student had already learned the previous year – this would promote actual progress in the schools.

Focus on students’ strengths. Some may be preoriented towards the sciences, but would need help in mathematics. Some may be preoriented towards history and research – but may need help with language skills. Some may be incredibly sports oriented – but may be rudimentary, at best, in scholastic skills.

Game settings would help that latter student. Ritalin would set that latter student back severely.

Music theory, art, sculpture, shop – those instructors could incorporate standard “Readin’, writin’, ‘rithmatic” into their curriculum.

Bigger schools, smaller classrooms, more activity within the student body.

Bring the classrooms back to life. Make the educational atmosphere, much like a career, a secondary lifestyle in which the students and parents can strive towards specific goals, and get rid of the damned FCAT system altogether.

While there, why not get rid of the useless, meaningless awards. Students are pushed to excel only when they are actively in pursuit of a goal.

Put in meaningful awards, which are simultaneously stimulating to the students and yet are attainable through effort.

There are classes which the females would have a natural predisposition to, and there are classes which the males would have a natural predisposition to.
There are also those who have gender identification issues, which would have to be addressed in a non-threatening fashion – if a tomboyish girl or an effeminite boy is in the group, full segregation would do more damage than good.

31 Jen January 8, 2009 at 12:29 pm

The thing is, school isn’t just about grades. School is a chance for children to learn to socialize and come into contact, as well work with, a wide variety of people. If you seperate children because of gender, they lose out on valuable lessons in interacting with the opposite sex.

Perhaps it would be better to look at how subjects are taught and more time should be given to individual pupils who are struggling.

32 Courtney January 27, 2009 at 5:32 pm

I have to ask–what happened to treating people as INDIVIDUALS instead of their ethnicity, gender, etc.?

I was impressed with this site at first–until I delved into the archives. Disappointing.

33 Joe February 2, 2009 at 5:06 pm

Separation by “learning style” would likely be best accomplished by separation by gender as that is probably a more reliable indicator of “learning style” than any test likely to be administered, not to imply that “learning style” has anything to do with it.

I remember being a forth grade boy in a class room intended for forth grade girls. The format of the instruction was totally irrelevant because no boy in forth grade should ever be expected to be able to stay awake much less pay attention when made to sit still for hours long stretches, especially not when teacher (and I’ve met the sort of people that become teachers in college – they’re not bright) turns the lights off under the premise that it will cool the room.

Separating class rooms by gender is an excellent idea.

People hung up on treating students individually have obviously given no thought to the practicality of setting policy in a school.

Furthermore, the idea that children who struggle to keep up are the only ones that need additional attention is grossly wrong. Smart kids endure a damaging amount of boredom in school.

34 Stephaine April 11, 2009 at 1:08 pm

Okay, so let’s not stop at segregating by gender. How about by learning styles. All of the female visual/verbal learners here, female tactile/kinesthetic learners here, and so on and so on. Once these children are out of school the work environment will NOT be segregated. Are we really doing anyone a favor? Seems to me that we are going backwards. Really, males of low-income families learn differently than males of high-income families. Most males in low-income families are minorities. Haven’t we already been there?

35 Jason April 18, 2009 at 5:05 am

I see 2 problems with segregating by learning style:
1. People do not fall as cleanly into one learning style category or another as they do gender. I wish to not be put in a learning style box, whereas I am fine with the male box, so long as that box _accurately_ describes strengths, weaknesses, and primary roles of males. I fit well into that box, though I do not fit the _stereotypical_ male box.
2. There are more learning styles than there are genders, depending on how you count them (3 or more, usually?).

Segregating by gender treats individuals as individuals better than no segregation at all because such segregation _does recognize_ the maleness or femaleness of the students, with all they entail–with all they contribute to the individual. Theoretically, segregating by person (i.e. one-student classrooms) would be the ultimate recognition of individuality, but that would cost too much $, eh?

I think a healthy balance of co-ed and segregated is good.

36 Angie April 18, 2009 at 6:53 am

As a teacher, I can tell you boys and girls learn differenlty at different rates. The biological evidence is clear: the male and female brains develop in unique ways–especially in the early years. In addition, the sexes thrive in different social and emotional environments. The main reason we don’t provide single-sex education anymore is money (big shock). It costs a lot more to provide single sex education (busses, schools, programs etc.) than to run massive, overcrowded co-ed schools.

For more infor on why same-sex education is best go to http://www.singlesexschools.org.

37 Tamara May 1, 2009 at 10:06 am

segregation is wrong. Guys have no right to push girls around and tell girls that they are better than us. you don’t see the girls going around telling other girls how much guys suck at different things. Sure of course boys are most of the time better at football than girls……. but how many boys are amazing at cheerleading… not as many as girls……. This is personally very dumb, men do not have anymore rights than women. They should just learn to respect women. It is proven that girls are smarter than other males….and also states that women tend to succeed farther in their career……which just proves to show that women have a better chance of succeedingn and deserve a higher level of respect. Many of the teachers are also females which just shows also that men have some of their own problems that they can’t handle… like girls!!!!!!!!!!!!

38 Amy May 1, 2009 at 10:16 am

Ok here’s the thing, what the heck guys!!!the people that say girls can’t understand stuff as well and we can’t comprehend stuff, well it’s ridiculous! Girls are competitive too and can kick butt any day! we love to compete!In fact i usually like to compete against all sexes just so i can see how i compare to everyone! and as for academics, one of my great friends is the smartest and leading in every academic competion and have three other girls following her for it. Although the guys are doing well it still proves that we can understand stuff just as well. Also, alot my guy friends come to me for advice on a daily bases because i actually understand their situations more throughly. Again on the competition, alot of the girls are amazing at sports and work just as hard. I do alot guy sports too along with a couple other girls and we play guy teams and still whoop them. All of the guys that treat girls with disrespect…newsflash!you’ll never get a awesome girl with that additude!gosh all we want is to be treated with respect and not be treated like less than some guy. School sex segregation is a joke! if guys can’t consintrate cause they just can’t help staring!it’s happened to everyone!that doens’t mean we should all go homeschooling cause after finding out that a while of same sex class, the guys won’t no what to do without someone to hit on, they’ll start hitting on eachother! and yes i think this is just weird that girls aren’t as cool as guys even crosses peoples mind!the guys need to just realize girls can be just as good, tough, smart, competive, and much else as guys.

39 Kadi May 1, 2009 at 10:32 am

This is crap! First off i found this website while researching for a persuasive essay about how segregating by gender is unacceptable and this has agrivated me thoroughly. First off, I compete at everything! i thrive on competition and one of the reasons that i do so well in school is to accell over the guys. Also, most of the girls in my classes groan everytime a teacher says to sit and listen. Men came up with the idea to sit quiet and listen to lectures so don’t say that this style of learning is beneficial to women. Second, the whole distraction thing is the individual’s problem, not everyone elses. (Checking the other sex out in school is half the fun!) You might think that I’m failing classes or struggling because of this, but I am a straight A student, compete in math and knowledge competitions(placing in all of these), and still excel in sports. Thirdly, I like to move around rather than sitting all day in class; it’s not just the guys. I may be more quiet and conceeded, but thats because I respect my elders and understand when the appropriate time is to have fun and be stupid(which is obviously not at school). Finally, if guys think that girls in school are demoting their manhood, then go be manly on your own time. You don’t have to become a girl to listen and respect them and teachers. Guys might think it’s annoying that girls aren’t as competitive or roudy, but I hate it when guys make perverted comments and think it’s funny. If the classes were segregated, I can guarantee that these comments would be stated more often and respect for women would plummet which shouldn’t necessarily take a backseat to education. Seperating genders could even give kids that segregating in general is an okay idea whereas it is completely wrong as we have already established with African Americans in our history. Hopefully, whoever reads this will understand where I am coming from and actually consider what segregation will do.

40 Blake Helgoth May 21, 2009 at 10:41 am

I used to be a youth minister for a large Catholic parish. We segregated the kids for small groups and as much as poosible on retreats. It was far more effective. We even had men’s and women’s sessions that went more into depth with gender specific issues. It cut way back on the flirting, they paid more attention and they were more open to disscussion. It was not a popular idea and it was new to the parish, but it works. There is no reason to through that many hormones together and hope for the best. Teach the boys to honor the women and the ladies to honor the boys. Let them spend soem time together, but very limited and very supervised. Seems like a no brianer, but maybe the sociologist would preffer we operate with no brains.

41 Dante May 29, 2009 at 11:14 am

I really agree with Justin. It’d be perfect if it wasn’t by sex, but by the student’s gender identity.

42 Steph Bergman June 1, 2009 at 11:37 am

I attended an all-girls school from 5-12 grade, and I actually appreciated it. I felt much freer to state my opinion or to say the right answer in class than when I was in a co-ed environment. Of course there were still bullies, people who hogged class-time, jocks, and anti-social people, but without boys there, several other girls and I didn’t care as much what others thought of us. During lunchtime, there was no feeling of “Oh, I shouldn’t be eating this cookie, I’ll get fat”; people just ate what they did, acted how they liked, and no one thought anything of it. While my school definitely could have done a better job with creating opportunities for both sexes to socially interact, I really do believe the single-sex environment I was in allowed me to form a strong sense of self and to realize what’s important in my life before I headed off to a co-ed college and work life.

However, the very fact that I felt freer in a single-sex environment to speak my mind than I did in a co-ed environment really says something about our society. From where did I learn to care what boys think of me (my appearance, actions, personality, etc.)? Why should that matter? Therefore, I think single-sex education is only a band-aid for a gaping wound that schools and our entire society must address. If both sexes are raised to consider the other equal, then I think single-sex education would not be needed.

43 Katherine June 3, 2009 at 7:49 pm

As a college-age girl, I have to say that the best classes I’ve ever had (high school and college) have been those with roughly similar numbers of girls and boys. The two things these classes shared were a small class size and an excellent teacher, and in the end, I think that matters a lot more than gender segregation. These were all debate-based courses, and I felt that the debate would not have been nearly so interesting had there not been both the male and the female perspective–however, maybe there is something to teaching math and science in segregated classrooms. Ultimately, it seems like a scheduling nightmare to me, whether or not it’s had success in some locations.

44 Zack September 6, 2009 at 1:27 pm

One thing to consider is that may this is not a black/white all-or-nothing issue. Gender segregation could be helpful for touchy social issues like sexual or social development, where the presence of the other gender could hinder participation because of fear of humiliation, there are other places where such segregation actually reinforces problems, such as sexism, misogyny, aggression, and negative stereotypes because the two genders are not allowed to socialize with each other, and so 1)the myths that cause the above problems are allowed to propagate and 2) because there is a primary emphasis on segregating by gender, there is no argument being made to see each other as people.

45 Ozymandias December 20, 2009 at 8:31 pm

Hmmm…I’m pretty on the fence about this.
I can see what people mean when they say that they were more comfortable speaking in segregated places. That’s a good thing. But there are a lot of negatives.
I, for instance, am transgender. I was born physically female, but my mind, the way I perceive things (including myself), the way I behave, and even the way I react are male. I would be more comfortable sharing my opinion or speaking among boys, not girls and would have resented being basically ‘told’ who to spend time with. I would have been EXTREMELY uncomfortable in an all-girls classroom or school. Most transgender people don’t even understand what it is until they are older as well, it’s just a feeling of ‘being different’ or ‘not fitting’. What this means is that it becomes nearly impossible to segregate on gender identity. I won’t mention the lesser but just as important problems of tomboys and more effeminate boys or this will become a dissertation.
The only thing I am certain of about this subject is my agreement with the latter portion of Miss Bergman’s comment. I also think that this is a primarily cultural or social problem and that gender segregation in schools is not the end-all solution.

46 Ty Jones December 30, 2009 at 12:27 pm

I find it very interesting that the Supreme Court, in one of their liberal interpretations of the Constitution, ruled that VMI had to accept women, there was no place in modern society for a public institution of higher learning that didn’t include women. Now PUBLIC schools are discriminating on the basis of sex by setting up single sex classrooms…come on, the reality is that there should be places of learning, public or private that are single sex. I think there are definite advantages in some instances for men and women who go single sex schools.

47 Mackenzie January 9, 2010 at 3:18 pm

I see Tamara and Amy are bringing exclamation marks back in style. :P

WELL, speaking as a female in my last year of Catholic high school, I say I agree and disagree.
YES, segregated classes do work in some cases, such as gym class, where there’s the health unit, which contains sex ed. My girls-only sex ed was filled with a lot less giggles than my grade school coed classes (but really… it’s grade school). It also probably helped with girls being more confident in their abilities, as compared to the (probably) more physically fit guys. I will say though, we were probably as or more rowdy than the guys’ gym classes (it’s true!). Not to mention these segregated classes are only for the junior students; senior phys ed classes are coed, and function perfectly well like that.
That being said, DO NOT segregate public schools. I know Catholic schools are considered private by the Ontario government, and also receive more funding than public schools, thus perhaps creating a possibly for single-sex schools, but it would not be worth it. What many comments seem to be saying is that girls and boys are distracted by physical attraction to each other too much – isn’t that true throughout life? As long as a person possesses hormones and eyeballs (it’s difficult to gauge looks without sight), men and women will notice attractive people of the same sex, and be inclined to spend some time thinking about them. Also, what of the diversity of ideas and viewpoints? Both genders can bring valuable insight on various topics; for example, during a debate in my senior religion course, we were asked if pornography should have limits on its content (yes… it’s not a strictly traditional Catholic school). Myself and my two female friends sided with *every single guy in the class* that of course it should restrictions.The rest of the girls in the class said it should pretty much be a free-for-all. If the guys had had a single-sex debate on this, it wouldn’t have happened. And as for the idea that feminists thought up the “sit down and behave” teaching approach… like another commentor, men started this first. Don’t even try to throw this wool over our eyes – know your history, don’t make your own version up.
We’ve already debated in-class, numerous times, on this subject before. The world is not segregated by sex; therefore the institutions that are meant to prepare us for it should not either.
I’d just like to mention that I appreciate this blog, as we are sorely lacking in men in this day and age (there’s only boys that are available… I want young men! ;]). Not only that, but a lot the posts are interesting, valuable, and for those that couldn’t ever possibly apply to me (men’s fashion, anyone?) are intriguing and amusing on their own. However, by many of the comments on this site, those that are reading AoM should be, as they clearly have skewed perspectives unfitting of men.

Now.. @Oracle, you, sir, are an idiot. Way to try to draw an automatic “REPEL” response from us – equate strong people who want to equalize rights to soldiers who followed an insane doctrine and committed mass genocide upon a race, their culture, and all others who opposed them. This makes sense, I suppose, to you. Also, on the topic of women wearing pants in formal situations? Women don’t simply dress for others; they dress for themselves, in what suits their personal preferences and comfort levels. I believe this is also in several of the blog posts on men’s style here. Besides, Bill seems to like Hillary just fine, whether or not she wears pantsuits.:] My lesbian friend feels more vulnerable in dresses rather than pants – skirts hold no “natural power” for her. And wouldn’t the female form be women’s true “natural power”, as clothing is a man-made invention? More girls wear the uniform pants rather than the nasty uniforms skorts that are required at our school, and our female principal wears pants on daily basis. I’d like to announce that we’re all functioning perfectly well, thank you very much.:]
To every one else… keep it civil. Picking fights over the Internet is what pre-adolescent kids on a sugar high do. ;]

48 Emily Case April 15, 2010 at 9:23 am

Instead of worring about how different genders learn better, how about seeing how everyone learns better. We all learn differently, no matter what our gender is. Take the time and see how every student learns and try changing your teaching technique to fit the skills and learning ability of all the students. Kids and teens have a right to be around people of the different gender. It teaches them about the different gender.If they are separated, they wont know how to deal with the opposite gender when they get into the real world.Sure the scores may get higher but thats because theres nothing else to do but learn and listen. School is only enjoyable to the students because of the students electives, which are also being taken away. Now, the students cant even go to school and talk with their friends with the opposite gender. Your taking away their friends, and everything that is possibily fun about school. I should know, because i am only in the 8th grade. Let the students be heard out, and see what they have to say about all of this mess.

49 Ben May 18, 2010 at 1:19 pm

I can see this being of benefit for elementary schools when kids usually segregate themselves by gender but by junior high classes should be combined in order to help with developing cross gender social skills. School is also a large social experiment and training ground for kids so keeping the genders divided until graduation could be socially damaging to kids if they do not know how to interact with each other and what to expect from one another.

50 Bryan June 30, 2010 at 9:49 am

The entire education system needs to be restructured. We just learn differently. We like to move around, most of us can’t sit still. Teachers need to gauge on men’s strengths and try to tame us as little girls.

51 Dillon Colbert February 26, 2013 at 12:26 am

No, they should be segregated by intelligence levels and learning styles, which you can see early on. take your daughter for instance, she is going to learn more like a guy and act more like a guy, because that’s how her brain developed when she was a baby, to learn in a specific pattern, it’s the same thing with little boys who grew up with similar patterns of a “typical” girl. then you have people learning certain things at certain rates and if they are learning it to fast or to slow for their class they will either get bored of it or will stop caring about the class because of all the stress over whelming them.

52 Jordan February 26, 2013 at 11:31 am

They should be segregated by gender and intelligence level. As a school teacher, most of the discipline issues I had to deal with were boy/girl issues. We could have only male teachers at male schools and vise versa for female schools. Then boys could get another role model and vise versa for girls.

53 Christine March 30, 2013 at 7:01 am

I agree with the article. I attended a girls school from grade 5 through grade 9 and it was so much easier concentrate.

54 Julia April 5, 2013 at 4:22 pm

What about girls who have ADHD? Or girls that might fare better in the boys classroom? As I former tomboy who still has some more masculine tendencies I could see this not going very well for girls who were like me.

55 Bonnie April 23, 2013 at 4:36 pm

@Cole Kelly You do honestly make very good points, but I have to disagree with your statement that “young people [don't] have a problem socializing”. Though my generation is very social, we have a very difficult time navigating our social world. Without school, we wouldn’t have the amount of friends we do. Even though this might not be the case for everyone, for a lot of people it takes knowing that you’re all going to be in the same room for a few months to work up the collective courage to become friends. And it’s not that friends feel like something we have to have, it’s that we’re very insecure about how to go about things. If we have gender-segregated schooling, the mixing of genders is going to decrease GREATLY. Outside of school, the main place that we make friends is sports, which is already generally segregated by genders. Although academics and performance are very important, the world is co-ed and we need to know how to function in that. We don’t want the workplace to be the first experience of working together. It would only do to increase the gender divide.

56 Srinivas Kari May 21, 2013 at 4:35 am

I think that de segregated schools help kids learn the critical skill of learning how to deal with the opposite sex. Of course, it is not the only way to learn this skill. Dealing with the opposite sex near home, any other location etc is just as good. To raise another point, I doubt the effectiveness of schools and the effectiveness of the curriculum. You can learn everything you learnt at school on the internet. The teachers are not well trained. School teaches you how to learn by rote. It encourages you to study for the test.It does not encourage you to think, to ask questions and self study. You cannot expect to learn everything in life from a teacher.

57 Jeremy July 11, 2013 at 1:49 am

As some one that works in a public school “gender identity” can be an issue. I will say that one positive thing I see in schools today is that children are much more tolerant of eccentric and different. There is one particular 7th grader I mistakenly called a girl. His body language and manner of dress was so feminine that I honestly was surprised. Thing is as far as I can tell none of the children made fun of him. Not saying it didn’t happen but I never saw it.

Another 6th grader was asked by my young charge, I’m a special education aid and my main student has social disorders. Just says it like he sees it asked him one day, “Why don’t you ever hang out with the guys? You spend all your time with the girls.” He wasn’t making fun of him though he was just curious.

This is a puzzle because boys and girls do on average learn and behave differently. Also, having pubescent teens in the same class rooms are just distracting. Not on the level of prudishness just on the level of productivity. The hormones are going crazy and having them together all day long is distracting to them. Who wants to learn algebra when there is a cute girl in front of you and your 12? Unless she wants you to learn algebra all they often do is act out to get each others attention. Often times the most disruptive of males becomes and engaged student once the females he is interested in are not around.

58 foreigner July 25, 2013 at 10:12 pm

I think that’s It just depends on the learning style and how the kid was raised. I mean all the girls were expected to sit there quietly and let the men do the talking until the late 1900′s. Men have been considered the more rambunctious crowd so they started acting like it. It depends on the sole person. I think that sex segregated schools are stupid because then you don’t get the diversity of the student’s like you would at a public school.

59 JT July 26, 2013 at 6:11 am

Let me break this down for you all. Men become men by being around men. The same for women. I know a kid whose mother screwed up his life by dressing him in girl’s clothing until he was 15. If he had been at a gender segregated school with a strict dress code, she couldn’t have destroyed his life. I have to wonder how he would have turned out if he had a father or at least a male mentor to help him out. Also, anyone who throws around the word misogyny needs to learn the word misandry. You want equality, right?

60 JohnE July 30, 2013 at 12:58 pm

I have to say that, as in most things, moderation is the key to this issue. If you completely segregate based on gender, you cripple the social development of the child. If you completely integrate (as has been the practice of late), you cripple the ability of one of the groups to be successful. There are so many examples of how it’s not ok for a man (or a woman) to have their thing. Where a guy can be with guys doing guy things. Or a woman can be with her ladies and do womanly things. Everything has to be together. But the problem is, we are different. We were made that way on purpose. Men need to stand up and act like men. Women need to stand up and be strong women. What we have now is just a poor represenation of a mix of both and it is really sad.

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