Single-sex classrooms are on the rise. As a parent of three elementary school kids, I think this is a great idea. Besides, at this age, they naturally segregate themselves out anyway, and for good reason: boys are icky and girls have cooties. Everyone 10 and under knows that. It doesn’t seem like a great leap in logic to think educating them separately might be of some benefit.
Proponents argue that, “…separation allows for a tailored instruction and cuts down on gender-driven distractions,” while critics like the American Psychological Association (APA), “…decry the movement as promoting harmful gender stereotypes and depriving kids of equal educational opportunities.”
But Dr. Leonard Sax, of the Pennsylvania-based National Association for Single Sex Public Education, contends this kind of education actually serves to break down stereotypes.
“We want more girls engaged in robotics and computer programming and physics and engineering… We want more boys engaged in poetry and creative writing and Spanish language.”
Not to be outdone — and never missing an opportunity to turn a perfectly sensible decision into something completely absurd — “The ACLU launched a national campaign, Teach Kids, Not Stereotypes, in May and sent cease-and-desist letters to school districts in Maine, West Virginia, Alabama, Mississippi and Virginia.”
I see this as a parental choice issue. As a parent and consumer of the public school system, one of the things with which I am charged is determining how my child learns best. Keep in mind that the single-sex classrooms are not mandatory and the curricula are exactly the same. This is not by any reasonable stretch forced gender segregation or, even more ridiculous, as harmful as racial segregation, though some professionals have suggested as much.
The question then becomes, do the benefits of single-sex education outweigh the negative effects of gender stereotyping? I can’t type “yes” fast enough. Frankly, the idea that we need to be indoctrinating kids to think gender differences don’t exist is at best offensive and at worst harmful. Boys and girls are different, and that’s ok. I think for my children this would be of great benefit. They would learn around their peers who are just like them. If, in the future, that doesn’t appear to be the case, I can make an alternate decision. I’m not suggesting gender-separate classrooms are for everyone. I am suggesting we should have the option.
What do you think about educating the genders separately?