What do you think of single-sex education?
According to a recent Forbes.com article, single-sex education is on the rise in the United States. In 2020, about a dozen US public schools offered single-sex classes. In 2010, more than 500 public schools offer single-sex instruction.
Some see this the trend toward single-sex education as a positive; others consider it an old-fashioned technique that reinforces gender stereotypes. Perhaps not surprisingly, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is the prime antagonist of the single-sex education movement. An ACLU spokeswoman, quoted in the Forbes article, said, "The programs push the notion of a fundamental difference in the way boys and girls learn."
And there it is, the 5-ton elephant in the corner. The are-there-differences-between-boys-and-girls question.
While some staunch feminists want to deny any innate differences between males and females, I believe the answer is yes. I'm all for civil liberties and women's rights, but I simply don't understand how anyone can argue that there are no differences (save the physical ones) between males and females. Anyone who has ever had a friend or partner of the opposite sex knows that men and women perceive the world differently. Anyone who has ever had a son understands, instinctually, that boys are different than girls.
"Different" isn't better -- and it certainly isn't worse. It's just different. And respecting and honoring those differences, rather than snuffing them, demonstrates respect for the child, whether male or female.
Serious scientific studies have documented serious biological differences in the brain function of boys and girls. While boys and girls are both equally capable of learning to read, the portion of the brain that handles language matures, on average, six years later in boys than in girls. Is it fair to ask all six-year-old boys to read at the same level as six-year-old girls? Boys' fine motor skills develop more slowly than girls'. Is it fair to ask five-year-old boys to write with the same precision as five-year-old girls?
I don't think so. It's far better, I think, to support and encourage each child individually, respecting his or her natural gifts, inclinations and personal development. Single-sex classrooms are an institutional attempt to tailor education. School districts will never have the necessary funding for individualized education, so until then, single-sex classrooms a way of reaching boys and girls who often flounder in mixed-gender classes.
That's my opinion anyway. What's yours?