Saturday, May 17, 2008

Single Sex School

From the major Sacramento newspaper:

When Katie Smith-Induni starts kindergarten in the fall, she'll be in a classroom designed especially for girls: The walls will be painted yellow. The thermostat will be set a tad on the warm side. And her teacher will be trained to present information in a nonconfrontational style.

"These sound like stereotypes, but they are statistically true," said Kim Oliva, who heads Girls' School Sacramento, a nonreligious private school opening this fall in West Sacramento.

"Girls like quieter environments, more dimly lit environments ... . Girls like groups, so at our school we have round tables to encourage collaboration, rather than desks."

They can be stereotypes and true. I'm curious how we'll be able to identify whether or not these statistically true stereotypes will help these girls learn more than a "traditional" school would, in order to determine if all schools should adopt such a program.

Is there any scientific (as opposed to emotional or anecdotal) evidence that this is better for students?

The comments indicate that a boys' school will open at some time in the future, but that the company couldn't afford to start both schools at the same time.


Eric W. said...

I doubt public schools would adopt a program like this even if it did help because they'd be afraid of being called sexist. Heck, in 3rd grade, my teacher got in trouble for having us line up in a boys line and a girls line when we left the room.

Ellen K said...

First, if you open a single sex school for one group, you should open it for both. Secondly, in the middle school grades especially, I think this would be an absolute benefit. That's when we begin to lose students on both sides of the game. While my own kids really didn't like the idea of a single sex school for pretty common reason, my daughter did nearly opt for the Ursuline Academy. There were some definite pluses, not the least of which was lack of distraction due to social issues. I do have a concern that if we continue shaping children's educational experiences to their gender, that at some point we will end up with converging groups that have even less communication skills than they do currently. There is a great deal to be said for adapting to one's surroundings. Nevertheless, for some kids, this should be an option and for others it should be a REQUIREMENT.

Happy Elf Mom (Christine) said...

Maybe off-topic slightly, but have you noticed most teachers are women? And they're not usually very good at handling "male" behaviours. Boys could use their own school as well, especially in the younger grades. I've noticed that my boys don't handle conflict the same way girls do. Girls will whisper about people and be mean behind their backs, but the boys will walk right up to the person they dislike and call her "fat girl." Guess which kid gets in trouble?

Anyway, interesting idea.

Ellen K said...

I have less trouble with boys than girls. Boys mess up and it's obvious (sorry to sound sexist, but it's true). Girls on the other hand will argue and create whispering campaigns to support their views. It easy to deal with obvious behavior problems. It's harder to deal with attitude. Give me loud and obvious over smart and devious any day-at least in terms of behavior.

Unknown said...

I teach in a single gender (girls) public school in TX, and have done a lot of reading on the subject. It is legal, and recent legislation passed in Congress further clarifies this. Good, well documented research can be found in Why Gender Matters, by Dr. Leonard Sax. The greatest benefits come for boys in pre K through 4, and for girls in grades 6-9.
As of next fall there will be five all girls public schools in Texas, and they also exist in cities such as New York (Young Womens Leadership School of Harlem), Detroit and Chicago. While there are charter schools that are all boys, so far as I know, all-boys public schools are not being formed. I think it is time, because we are failing our boys, and we are losing them from the education system early.

Ellen K said...

If you haven't read "A Fine Young Man" yet, please do so. As a mom of both, I can tell you our schools are doing far less than they could to help boys, especially when it comes to reading.