Friday, July 11, 2014

Diversity in the Classroom

A refreshing take.  I'm not quite sure where I stand on same-sex classrooms, I don't know if there are any reputable studies on the subject, but I'm certainly open to parental choice.  But how far should that choice go in public schools?
Today, it was reported that a girls’ state school in Bradford has been criticised by Ofsted for only employing female teachers. Feversham College, a Muslim school, has been told to hire positive male role models for its 664 girls, aged 11-18, who currently have an ‘all-female learning environment’.

Its head teacher has stated that the school - which used to be private - was established "in response to parental demand for single-sex education based on religious beliefs" and said the policy had been accepted when the it applied for voluntary-aided status in 2001.

That may be. But, as Chief Executive of the Girls' Day School Trust (GDST) - a group of 26 independent schools and academies in England and Wales - I can't help but agree with the Ofsted report. Simply, we can’t argue for diversity in the boardroom and then not allow it in the staffroom.

Girls’ schools have long been at the forefront of extending opportunities for young women. We expect, quite rightly, that no doors will be closed to the girls leaving us at the end of their school lives this month and going on to university, or the world of work.

So it would be hypocritical in the extreme - not to mention incompatible with equal opportunities legislation - for us to argue that teaching, or senior leadership roles, in girls’ schools should be female-only enclaves.
Before some of our womyn readers hyperventilate, please note the sex of the author of the piece--and her position. She has to walk the walk.


maxutils said...

We already have public schools with all female teachers ... there called 'ElementarySchools'. And yes, I know that's an exaggeration, but between my two kids, they've had a total of one male teacher, and it was the same one ... and that's between two schools. I'm not suggesting discrimination ... 3/7 of mine were men ... but the preponderance of female teachers in elementary is a curious phenomena -- and probably suggests something about men who go in to teaching. As well as women. Not sure what, but interesting...

maxutils said...

This maybe a partial repost ... I had a computer issue.

Anyway ... my first problem is that this study is based on standardized tests where the students have no incentive (at least based on what I read) to perform well, and were based on a sampling of school, rather than all of them. To a statistician, that should be problematic, as you've skewed the data twice ... in undefinable ways. Do girls take more pride in their work than boys, or vice versa? Were these schools a representative sample or all high end or low end.

My experience ... having taught English in 7th and 8th grade, is indeed that the girls performed better, on average. But that's debatable, because only a few of my students ever read the books, and their writing was generally horrible ... despite my being the first, apparently, to introduce them to grammar. Teaching math? 9-12? My best students were USUALLY girls, and if I had to rank the top ten, it would normally be a 6-4 split favoring them. Which ... is really close. It certainly challenges the girls can't do math thing. I think the one thing that might play in to that? I think girls in math classes are sometimes intimidated to ask questions, particularly if the teacher is male ... because the stereotype is that they aren't supposed to be good at math...asking a question might confirm it. But ... for whatever reason, most of the questions I get are from the girls thought is that I've created a comfortable environment where I make it clear that I will answer any question until they're done, I won't ridicule for not knowing something they should arguably know, and I won't call on people who don't have their hands up (something I've been criticized by more than one administrator for.) Asking a question ...indicates you sort of got it, but need some clarification ...which actually indicates your better at the subject.