Saturday, March 01, 2008

Same Sex Education

In this weekend's New York Times magazine, there is an article on the emerging system of same-sex education in US public schools. Elizabeth Weil describes Leonard Sax as the leader of this movement, which has particularly taken off in the South.

Sax explores different biological concerns of the genders: girls hear better than boys, are more visually adept, and so on. The other side of the coin is that some people examine the social differences, rather than biological of the two genders.

Some people (for example the ACLU) are highly offended by these ideas, and I can see their point. Michael Younger of Cambridge University called Sax's proposal 'sexist rubbish' saying that Sax 'might have well said boys should go out and have jobs, girls should stay home and have babies."

Should you read the article, you might, as I did, find some of Sax's ideas questionable. However, I totally agree with same-sex education and this is hardly the first time it's occured to me. A life-altering book for me was Raising Cain about the differences of boys. I have attempted to get my son in an all-boy school (the ones in NY are too far and/or expensive). If his local PS went single-sex, I'd be thrilled.

I'm going out on a limb here, but I would guess that those against same-sex ed. either have girls or no children. If one has a girl, parents must consider equality and upholding feminist standards. If one doesn't have kids, well, their knowledge can only be limited.

I wish opponents would see it from my side. I have a hyper-active 5 year old boy who is required to go to school and behave and learn in ways that are TRADITIONALLY feminine and completely against his nature. He is expected to sit in his seat, raise his hand, not push, not play, not talk in the hall, and have good penmanship. Of course, these are too strict standards, which should be less if he went to progressive school, but not wholly....and what about the boys who -- for whatever reason CAN'T go to progressive school.

People will probably attack me for not being 'feminist' but I believe school behaviors and expectations are geared toward the feminine. This doesn't mean that there aren't plenty of kids who don't cross the line. My nephew, for example, does very well in school. By people should be able to be themselves, not on Ritilain.


Gail said...

" ... I believe school behaviors and expectations are geared toward the feminine."

I have no problem with separate schools for younger children actually geared to support individual children's leaning needs, BUT I don't think your assumption that boys would be able to be boys in a separate school is really what the separate schools movement is probably about.

The rules of how children are supposed to behave in school come down to us from the time when only boys went to school.

But more to the point I think it's how the schools treat all children that matters. My brother (3 years younger) and I went to the same Catholic school in Colombia. My brother fought the nuns, literally. I went inside myself. My mother took my brother out of the school and placed him in a Montosori school. I sat out the rest of the year then joined him at that school. It was liberating. But everyone thought I was doing just fine at the Catholic school!

Gail said...

I meant:

... your assumption that boys would be able to be boys in a separate school is really NOT what the separate schools movement is probably about.

Jennifer Bartlett said...

Hi Gail,

I would love to hear more. Do you have kids? Girl? Boy? Have you read Raising Cain or seen the film? What do you think same-sex education is for?

Talia Reed said...

Ooooh! I'm going to use this tomorrow for my daily writing topic (we're doing persuasive writing and the kiddos need stuff to think/talk/debate/write about) for my 11th graders! They'll love it! Or hate it! Either way it's good for me--and they're writing.