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Separate but equal: single gender classrooms

 
 
Reply Tue 6 Dec, 2011 01:38 pm
One of the middle schools I'm looking at for Mo next year admits both boys and girls but they are in separate classrooms. I've been doing a bit of reading on the pros and cons of such a set up but I'm unsure what to make of the idea.

What do you think are the possible benefits and pitfalls of this type of classroom?
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Type: Question • Score: 13 • Views: 3,098 • Replies: 63

 
ossobuco
 
  3  
Reply Tue 6 Dec, 2011 01:50 pm
@boomerang,
Offhand, such a school, one that has both boys and girls in the, er, physical plant, could be an excellent idea. As a lot here know, I was raised in coed classes, including mixed grade classes (million kids, one nun) until high school, when I found myself in a strict girls' academy, no boys for miles. The teachers beliefs and politics had a tough effect on me that took years and years to wear off (parts of hinges are still rusting) but that doesn't seem to be the kind of place you are looking at. One good thing about my high school was that smart girls would speak up, where they might not have in a co-ed situation (though some girls spoke up in my elementary school). Maybe the hidden factor is that more boys would speak up, especially at middle school age, if the girls weren't in the room.

Some girls are natural talker/babblers and speak up, whether sharp or less sharp. Some boys are less articulate than the girls but are goldmines of curiosity and accumulating knowledge, given a chance.

So, I guess I'm for it. Will be interested to hear the cons...
0 Replies
 
High Seas
 
  2  
Reply Tue 6 Dec, 2011 01:53 pm
@boomerang,
I think this is idiotic: except for phys.ed. what justification is there for separating boys from girls? Have you tried asking the school for a rationale?
roger
 
  3  
Reply Tue 6 Dec, 2011 01:57 pm
@High Seas,
I would also be interested in the rational. There may be one, but I can't see it from here.
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boomerang
 
  2  
Reply Tue 6 Dec, 2011 02:01 pm
I'm not really clear on the pros and cons, osso. Most of the articles I've found about schools doing this seem very enthusiastic about it. From what I've experienced over the course of my life though is that people are always enthusiastic about anything new.

I intend to ask about it when we (yes we all have to go) go in to interview, High Seas (good to see you, by the way!) It seems that a lot of schools think it's less distracting for both boys and girls while it still allows them the opportunity to mingle with the opposite sex.

From what I've read the whole idea took root back in the 90s where there was a big ruckus saying girls were being cheated out of an education.
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Dec, 2011 02:08 pm
Here's a pretty good run down on the debate: http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2010/06/22/the-new-segregation-debate.html
0 Replies
 
High Seas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Dec, 2011 02:17 pm
@boomerang,
Always good to see you too, Boomerang - hope all is well at your end. Actually thought of you as there's now a combination of light waves (aka photography of sorts) and diagnoses / cures for behavioral problems - look at a poor lab mouse getting "trained"! Well, the cure is supposed to be completely painless, but did anybody ask the mouse?! Yes, by all means ask questions, and also see what answers the kids come up with - would they rather be together or apart?
Quote:
......it's well-known that the closer light gets to infrared, the deeper it can pass through tissue. Engineering a light switch that turns neurons on in response to infrared could open the doors to precise control of circuits deep in the brain, potentially enabling noninvasive treatments for diseases like Parkinson's and depression.

http://www.technologyreview.com/files/38707/opto_x220.jpg
http://www.technologyreview.com/biomedicine/24870/?mod=related
sozobe
 
  3  
Reply Tue 6 Dec, 2011 02:25 pm
@boomerang,
I'm not blanketly against it -- I think it can work for some people.

The most compelling reasons I saw for it were for shy girls who were being shouted down by more outgoing boys, and not participating in class even though they did know the answers. They could really benefit from an all-girl environment.

This comes up in my non-profit organization -- it's women-only, and some of the women feel strongly about not allowing men to certain events, because they feel like men always take over everything.

For myself, throughout my life, my social circle included boys. That was not only in terms of recess or whatever -- I'd do school projects with boys, and frequently competed with boys in a way that I found fun, the boys in question found fun, and girls tended to shrink away from.

Sozlet would also absolutely freak if she could no longer be in classes with boys. Several of her best friends are boys, and she regularly has moments when she's just kind of over girls and their drama and needs to hang out with boys. This happens during the school day too.

Plus, especially at her age, it's really hard to "mingle" in a non-datey/ flirty way without the incidental contact at school. If you have to do a project with a guy, of course you're going to talk to him -- if you never see him during the school day, it's much more awkward to seek him out and chat during non-school hours.

And she's thus far resolutely non-datey -- she's inoculated from teasing about hanging out with a "boyfriend" because she has a bunch of friends who are boys, rather than one specific one that becomes a target. That works both ways -- the boys don't worry about hanging out with her, either.

So, for me, and for her, I think co-ed is best.

That doesn't mean it's best for everyone.
boomerang
 
  2  
Reply Tue 6 Dec, 2011 02:33 pm
@High Seas,
Whoh. That's wild.

I've been reading a lot about the CHRM 2 studies. Those are interesting too!
0 Replies
 
engineer
 
  4  
Reply Tue 6 Dec, 2011 02:33 pm
@boomerang,
I attended what I think was the last public non-coed high school in the country. We went co-ed via lawsuit my junior year. My thoughts from experience at the high school level (some of which is not applicable to middle school).

Prior to co-ed: Before class, guys sat around in the hallways playing cards or chess. There was a typical macho pecking order and the occasional fight but it was actually much more mellow than you might imagine. Lots of participation in extra-curriculars like Key Club (service organization) since that is how you met girls. The environment was very laid back - not a lot of concern about clothes, no one cared if you looked a little scruffy.

Post co-ed: Before class, everyone socialized. Everything was about socializing - being seen and who you were seen with. Extra-curriculars dropped off somewhat. The girls pretty much dominated organizing activities - class councils, homecoming activities, dances, etc. and some traditions died because they were guy oriented. (The old tradition for ring day was dress in beat up jeans and t-shirts, get your rings at a casual ceremony, run through the halls pounding on doors and take the day off. The new tradition was dress in fine clothes and have a formal ceremony. Still got the day off.) In retrospect, I think the guys often dominated in class discussion and the girls tended to stay quiet.

So concerning your situation, I would say go to a completely co-ed middle school. Girls will be a lot less scary if there are some you know before they morph into tall, willowly young women in eighth grade. Also with the advent of chat and texting, kids develop avenues of communication with the opposite sex while they are young that seem to help them as they move through adolescence. That has been my experience as my children have gotten older. If there is some advantage to be had, I think it would be at the high school level where adolescent urges interfere in every interaction.
Linkat
 
  2  
Reply Tue 6 Dec, 2011 02:37 pm
@sozobe,
Same reason for my older daughter. Funny just a couple of days ago, we drove by an all girls prep school in my city. My daughter asked - is that school expensive (we've been talking about not too long ago the expense of private school). She then remembered it was an all girls school. And stated I wouldn't want to go to an all girls school - all that drama!

Although she is quiet and not a loud in the class participatation perspective. She also tends to prefer to hang with the boys in her class as she tires of the drama.

And I realize you mean just in the classroom - but there is lots of drama just in the classroom as well. I think my daughter would like it, but only if she was allowed in the boys classes.
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Dec, 2011 02:43 pm
@sozobe,
I probably would have been miserable in an all girls class but I might have done better in school. I wasn't "boy crazy" but almost all of my good friends were boys so there was always someone to stir up some trouble with.

This is an alternative school where they don't spend the whole day in class so I think the opportunity to mingle would be greater than in a traditional public school.
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Dec, 2011 02:48 pm
@engineer,
Your high school actually sounds kind of great before the girls came in and ruined it all!

Thanks for weighing in. I was hoping to hear from men who went to all boy's schools or had all boy classes.
sozobe
 
  3  
Reply Tue 6 Dec, 2011 02:50 pm
@boomerang,
But the point I was trying to make re: "mingling" is that it's different if it's optional.

As in, "I, a girl, am going to go over and talk to that boy because I want to," rather than "I, a girl, have to talk to this boy because we have to do a school project together."

If flirting is the point that's one thing, but the incidental hanging-out stuff can be much harder. And I think non-flirtatious co-ed peer interaction is important. (Flirting has its place, mind you!)

I think I probably would have done the same or worse in school if it were not co-ed. Probably worse. Competition with boys frequently spurred me on to study more etc. The competition thing with girls never really worked. Someone always got upset. (I never really got that -- competition with boys resulted in laughter and high-fives, no matter who won, while competition with girls resulted in hurt feelings and pouting, no matter who won. Gross generalization of course, but...)
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Dec, 2011 02:52 pm
@Linkat,
It's interesting that you, me, and soz all think we would have hated it and that you both think your daughters would hate it.

But osso, who went to an all girls school thought it seemed like a pretty good idea. From what I've been reading, the girls in single gender classrooms really like it.

So confusing!
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Dec, 2011 02:56 pm
@sozobe,
I'm sorry. I wasn't clear. At this school they do classroom work most days in the morning then project based, hands on, co-ed stuff later in the day.

So I guess I meant "interaction" instead of "mingling".
CalamityJane
 
  2  
Reply Tue 6 Dec, 2011 02:57 pm
@boomerang,
I went to a co-ed school but our classes were all separated and I kind of liked it actually. We still had enough time to mingle at lunch and recess as well as after school. I did not think it was a big deal either way.

Actually, Jane sometimes tells me that the boys are so annoying in her classes that she wished it would be a single gender classroom. She feels the boys are so immature and disturb the class a lot more than girls do. She has close friends who go to an all girls (catholic) high school and it seems they like it too - the (catholic) boys high school is right next door though, so they have tons of activities together as well.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  2  
Reply Tue 6 Dec, 2011 02:58 pm
@boomerang,
(I answered before I read more, usually a bad idea - anyway, I see what you are saying re the change in the 90's.)


That may have been a surge in it, in the nineties, but I think single sex education goes way back, thus accumulating pros and cons on the way, some of it grossly paternalistic (no trig or physics, much less calculus, in my 50's academy - but science/math lack was just one twist of the paternal bit, not that people then were meaning to be paternal in some negative way). In my time, it was promoted as making the scene more open for shy girls to talk, plus sex wouldn't be getting in the way in the chaste classroom - but I think we've had threads here about disadvantages in education re boys, that being more paid attention to lately.

I don't know that separation is good or bad, but I'm not automatically against it.
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Dec, 2011 02:59 pm
@boomerang,
Ah, I see. Thanks.

So that sounds like it's not purely one or the other -- some separation, some co-ed. (I consider hands-on, project-based stuff to be education, too... just a different mode.)

I'm curious about their rationale. (I think you said you won't find out 'til you go there.)

I can certainly see it working out.

What does Mo think about it?
0 Replies
 
saab
 
  3  
Reply Tue 6 Dec, 2011 03:03 pm
The first four years I went to a coed school. From there on to a all girl school.
I did not mind at all. The teachers were very strict, we had to learn and we did.
I am for seperated class rooms.
Girls seem/are more mature than boys.
Female teachers seem to listen more to the boys in a class and forgetting the girls. The boys are bigger, deeper voices which carries better.
Male teachers seem to be more neutral.
It seems like both sexes do learn better when away from the other sex. It is enough to be together after school.
0 Replies
 
 

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