Segregation by gender?

10 Jul

A couple of days ago I read this little piece on grade schools separating children by gender. Supposedly this segregation facilitates giving targeted attention to a distinct and separate group of children (boys) who is falling behind another distinct and separate group (girls).

While the image in the article shows 7 and 9 year old boys, the subtitle of the article reads, “Proponents argue the separation allows for a tailored instruction and cuts down on gender-driven distractions such as flirting.” Please excuse me while I snort in derision. (Not that there aren’t some precocious six year olds out there who would be distracted by flirting, but if that was one of the primary motivations, then you separate the sexes in late middle and high school, not in grade school.)

Further down, we are told that “When preparing for a test, the boys may go for a run, or engage in some other activity, while the girls are more likely to do calming exercises, such as yoga.” Boys’ classrooms with blue chalkboards, girls’ with little hearts.

For the love of Pete! Really?

This really doesn’t work well.

What about the girl who likes to climb trees and despises dolls? What about the boy who doesn’t enjoy camping or sports?  I can just imagine how my craving for a GIJoe action figure when I was 11 would have gone over in this environment–or how one of my ex’s nephews, who loved to play with baby dolls until he was in his teens, would have fared with the other kids.

I, for one, wouldn’t be surprised if instances of bullying were more prevalent with children educated under this scheme: after all, during their formative years authority figures are basically telling boys and girls that they better conform to gender stereotypes or else.

Mind you, I don’t think it matters much whether older kids choose, by and for themselves¹, to attend sex segregated classrooms, but for younger children? Bullshit, says I.

~~~ * ~~~

¹ I beg to know whereof I speak, as all five of us attended private sex segregated middle and high schools, because the academic level was several levels of magnitude better than the co-ed public schools available to us (Mexico, 70s to mid 80s). Having lived in four different countries, I’ll say that my experience holds, because people are people wherever you plant them.

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