Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Single Sex Classrooms in Public Schools: debate, and maybe a challenge for teachers

Recently, there has been more talk about the benefits of single-sex classrooms in public schools. They are thought to be particularly beneficial for lower income boys. This would correspond to the reality that boys create most of the “obvious” discipline problems, and that boys are behind girls for a good part of childhood (particularly in certain verbal skills), catching up at around age 13 or 14. At certain ranges, girls are thought to develop more confidence in math and science when in single-sex classrooms.

If the trend toward separating students were to continue into high school (beyond the current practice for "health and physical education"), it would place more emphasis on teacher “role model” skills than is necessary in many kinds of classes now.

Another comparable trend, discussed recently, could be to combine middle school and elementary school and keep the K-8 grades under one roof, slowing down the “autonomy” of students as they learn to go to separate classes.

There are many reports, however, that ninth grade has the highest failure rate, especially in low income areas.

Here is a reference to a paper by Jean Sather under “Parent Resource” on MSN Encarta, “Same Sex Classrooms: Can They Fix Our Public Schools, link here. .

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