Here are my qualifications for supporting my position:
- I am a man
- I attended co-ed elementary, middle school and college
- I attended a 4yr all-boys prep school (high school)
- I have a 4yr old son
- I was once an adolescent boy and act like one from time to time today, just ask my wife 😉
- I am not a ‘professional’ teacher or psychologist.
- I have a degree in anthropology and have studied sociology.
- I am a man
Can we agree?
I am not going to present you with a pile of research that clearly states that boys and girls learn differently. Let’s agree on that.
Boys get in trouble
Boys are often fidgety, disruptive and distracted in the classroom. That is the complaint I hear from teachers and fellow parents. “He just can’t sit still!” or “He’s very intelligent but he’s easily distracted” Here’s description that my parents heard hundreds of times; “He’d make better grades if he would just apply himself.” There are a few exceptions but this is the general theme we’ve heard for decades. Boys get into more trouble than girls. The problem is exacerbated when teenage boys reach puberty and bodies are drenched in testosterone.
Fix the boy – Not the Answer
For the last 50 years society’s answer has been to ‘fix the boy’. This is done in a variety of ways including harsh discipline and prescription drugs aimed at changing behavior. There is evidence that this strategy is effective in some cases (short term). But, long-term it is futile. If the discipline and/or drugs are removed, the boy defaults back to his natural state (undesired). Or worse, the discipline becomes ineffective, causing anger or he becomes dependent on chemicals.
Fix the school – the Answer
What if we sent our boys and girls to the same school but not the same classes? Remember, we agree that boys learn differently from girls. Why doesn’t our educational system reflect this?
I can speak for most males when I say that when I was a young adolescent in middle-school classes with females, the LAST thing on my hormone driven, overactive mind was learning math or science. I was more interested in ‘learning’ about girls and making sure I captured their attention by any means necessary (including but not limited to disrupting class, horsing around, etc).
The All Boys Advantage:
When I began classes at an all-boys prep school in Connecticut, I responded to a teaching style was completely different than I had ever experienced. There was no one to impress. So, I saved my antics for the weekends when girls were around campus. I found that I actually liked to learn. Teachers used the surrounding environment as a classroom. A teacher may take his literature class outside to a place on campus called the ‘Black Forrest’ and read portions of the Emerson or Robert Frost. A Physics class may be held on the basket ball courts. For a boy, American history is learned on a battle field rather than in a classroom. I know most schools don’t have these resources but boys learn through activities, competition and visual experience.
I know several women who attended all-girl schools. Their stories have the same thread running through them. There were no boys in class to impress or worry about. In either case, I have yet to meet anyone who experienced a single-sex education who believed that their education would have been better if the opposite sex was present in the classroom.
My college experience along with many conversations with men and women about this subject solidify my position. Girls and boys would be better served by putting them in separate classrooms at our schools.
We should shoot our sacred cows. There are a hand full of schools implementing this old way of educating and seeing positive results.
Why not give it a try? (Because what we’re doing is not working)
I may have strongly disliked the girls at my all girls high school, but my education was far better without boys present. I wouldn’t have traded or chosen any different of a learning environment.
Thanks for commenting. I’ve heard similar stories ( from men and women)
where they did not particularly like the majority of people in their
school. However, this occurs regardless of single-sex or co-ed. It’s a
culture thing within the school that develops, I think.