Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Separate and Equal Education for Girls?

Or perhaps just separate and more well-mannered? This article in the AJC about the resurgence of gender-specific classes left me feeling uneasy. I don't know anything about the "recent research into brain differences between genders" that allegedly reports that girls and boys learn more when they are grouped in single-sex classes (and the AJC doesn't link to this research, making its value immediately suspect), but the arguments in favor of single-sex education listed left me feeling like segregating students is a bad idea. According to the article, dividing the children makes it possible to let male students"... shout answers to questions, get up from their desks during class and, yes, stand on chairs when needed," - to act confident and uninhibited. A parent in with a child in an all-girls class, on the other hand, is pleased to report that his daughter is "...becoming a young lady," - presumably keeping quiet unless called on and not standing on chairs if she needs a boost.

To me, this sounds bad - shouldn't we be teaching our girls and boys alike to be confident, and also that there are certain times when it is best to curb their first impulses? To me, these segregated classes sound like a practice in institutionalizing gender stereotypes - negative ones on both sides.

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