There have been many different approaches to help the unique learning differences between boys and girls in classrooms. One can argue that statistically that most boys need a different learning environment than girls. What this difference is and how to calculate it is usually the problem. An article from the Toronto Sun talks about one approach that seems to be working. A school in Canada holds that typical public schools are geared more towards the learning abilities of girls than they are to boys: 

Elementary schools work better for girls. Girls tend to be more social, more eager to please and have a much better ability to sit at a desk, be quiet and at least look like they’re paying attention. Boys have more energy and don’t sit still as well. Sound sexist? You might want to have it out with the human brain first. Research shows male and female brains are hardwired differently. And those differences show up early — for one thing, female brains develop faster, especially in the area where language is processed.

With this in mind, there is a lot of support for segregating schools, or even classes on the basis of sex. This support seems well founded the schools that are hesitantly implementing boys-only classes are seeing positive results: 

Boys report they find classes with girls more distracting and are less apt to speak up in class because they don’t want to look silly in front of the opposite sex. In a boys-only class, that pressure is off. Glad Park Public School in Stouffville has had boys-only classes for language for nearly two years. “Kids’ marks are going up,” reports Sandra Mullins, a French immersion teacher at the school. Boys “feel smarter and are learning more … they’re having an opportunity to rise and shine.”

Results like these seem to show that this segregation can be a very positive thing for both boys and girls alike. I would like to emphasize the word “can,though, for in my mind, this type of policy leaves me with some reservations.  First, boys obviously need to interact with the opposite sex at some point, to be conducive to social development. When would this occur? Middle school? High school? But if thrown into a situation with girls then, especially during the time of preadolescence and puberty, would it be helpful to their learning?  Second, what would this look like for teachers? Would a male teacher have to teach a male class, and vice-versa? Sure, boys need a strong male role model but, then again, so do girls. This type of teaching environment seems to be a bit sketchy, especially since, on average, most teachers are women. How would this look to me, then, a female teacher looking for a position? Would I not be considered for a position, even if I were more qualified than a male candidate? Third, I do not see how this will play out with GLBTQI students. It is very likely, maybe closer to a middle school/high school setting, that there could be an individual of the male sex, but who identifies with the female gender. Would this individual feel comfortable in a classroom where a more masculine based curriculum is taught? I don’t know really how this would look like, or how it would feel to one who does identify GLBTQI, but it does raise what will be an important topic if this policy is to be considered nationally. In closing, I would like to think that we see each child with individual needs and unique learning capacities. These capacities of course, are not based on the sex of the child, but on the complexity of the individual. Therefore, while the implementation of this segregating policy might help some, I think in the long run it could hurt many. Of course, keep the discussion open. Of course, let’s look to better our policies and programs, but to segregate the sexes might cause more harm than good.

“Marks are up, misbehaving is down when girls aren’t in the classroom” by Moira MacDonald. The Toronto Sun. January 29, 2007. Full article here       

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