26 enero 2005


[To most Americans, single-sex education seems strange and old-fashioned. Few Americans have had firsthand experience with single-gender education, and fewer still have ever been inside a single-gender public school. Besides: Women and men work together and live together, so shouldn't girls and boys go to school together? The argument in favor of coeducation seems obvious and intuitive. But, as neuroscientist Dr. Joseph LeDoux has writen: Sometimes, intuitions are just wrong -- the world seems flat but it is not ... Things that are obvious are not necessarily true, and many things that are true are not at all obvious. The strongest arguments for single-sex education are not obvious. In the current school year, 154 public U.S. schools are offering same-sex education, compared with four public schools eight years ago, according to the National Association for Single Sex Public Education (NASSPE), a nonprofit group created by Montgomery County physician Leonard Sax. He said the number represents 35 public schools that are completely single sex and 119 that are coeducational but also offer single-sex educational opportunities.]

# 108 ::Educare Categoria-Educacion

by Newspaper and Magazine Articles


Thirty years ago, many educators believed that the best way to ensure equal educational opportunity for girls and boys would be to insist on educating girls and boys in the same classroom. However: a thoughtful review of the evidence accumulated over the past 30 years suggests that coeducation may not work as well as expected. In fact, the best evidence now suggests that coeducational settings actually reinforce gender stereotypes, whereas single-sex classrooms break down gender stereotypes. Girls in single-sex educational settings are more likely to take classes in math, science, and information technology. Boys in single-sex schools are more likely to pursue interests in art, music, drama, and foreign languages. Both girls and boys have more freedom to explore their own interests and abilities in single-gender classrooms. In recent years, there has been significant press coverage of success stories such as the Thurgood Marshall Elementary School in Seattle, Washington, where an imaginative principal reinvented his school as a gender-separate academy, and -- with no additional funding -- transformed his school, with students' grades and test scores soaring, disciplinary problems vanishing, and everybody's attitude improving. These press reports, unfortunately, have often failed to mention the careful preparation and professional development behind these stories. As a result, other educators have sometimes experimented with gender-separate education, simply putting all the girls in one classroom and all the boys in another. No professional development. No careful consideration of which teacher is right for which classroom -- because neither the principal nor the teachers understand how girls and boys learn differently, and therefore they have no clue how to determine which teacher is right for which classroom. The results of such poorly-thought-out experiments are not impressive. Sometimes they're disastrous.

Newspaper and Magazine Articles

Washington Post, January 8, 2005: Maryland school segregates to boost learning?: This article about single-gender classes in a public school in suburban Maryland has an interesting twist: one of the teachers for the all-boys classes is an ardent feminist who initially opposed the idea. But her experience leading an all-boys classroom changed her mind. Here?s the link .

Palm Beach Post, January 2, 2005: ?Hands up, mischief down? : this front-page article documents the great success of single-gender classrooms in a public school in Boynton Beach: better academic performance, fewer discipline referrals. Here?s the link.

San Diego Union-Tribune, December 20, 2004: ?Benefits, drawbacks seen in gender-separate classes?: Despite the wishy-washy headline, this front-page article documents the great success of single-gender classrooms in a local public high school, particularly for Latino/Latina students. Here?s the link.

Jackson Clarion-Ledger, November 29, 2004: ?Same-sex classes showing promise?: Good results from a public school in Flowood (a suburb of Jackson, Mississippi). Dr. Sax met with teachers at this public school last summer, just before they launched their single-gender classrooms. They?re off to a great start, as this article documents, with all the usual benefits: girls who are more confident, boys who enjoy reading more. Here?s the link.

WHAS-11 (Louisville, Kentucky), November 12, 2004: ?Same sex classes working at area schools?: Good news from single-gender public schools in Louisville and environs: academic achievement has improved, dramatically in some cases, and discipline referrals are way down. Here?s the link.

New single-sex program at Mississippi public elementary school
Flowood Elementary School (in Rankin County, northeast of Jackson, Mississippi) began offering single-sex classes in 2004-2005. You can read more about the program at
this link.

In March 2004, the United States Department of Education proposed new regulations governing single-sex public education in the United States. A flood of newspaper articles followed, demonstrating the widespread interest in this topic. We've archived a few of these articles:

From the Los Angeles Times: Can Separate Be Equal?
Chicago public schools consider offering single-sex public schools
Three new single-sex public schools opening in Michigan
Single-sex classrooms open in Las Vegas
New single-gender opportunities in South Florida

Girls and Boys Learn Differently

Dr. Sax, executive director of NASSPE, led a professional development seminar for middle school teachers in San Antonio on January 8 2004. The topic was innate differences in the learning styles of girls and boys. The San Antonio public school district began offering single-gender classrooms in 13 of the district's 18 middle schools in the 2003-2004 school year. Read the article which appeared in the San Antonio paper about differences in how girls and boys learn.

The Lost Boys

Journalist Jennifer Bingham Hull reports in this
article for Parenting magazine that there has been an acceleration in the kindergarten and early elementary curriculum over the past 20 years. Kindergarten used to be about finger painting and playing games. Now it's about literacy and numeracy. That acceleration of the curriculum has been especially disadvantageous for boys, because boys and girls develop at different rates. One good solution for this problem, Ms. Hull suggests, may be single-sex kindergarten.

The Washington Times endorses single-sex education

In an
editorial September 14 2003, the Washington Times strongly endorsed single-sex education in public schools. The Times observed that gender-separate classrooms broadens educational horizons and improves academic performance. The editorial also reported how speakers at NASSPE's annual conference in August 2003 described the transforming power of single-gender education to turn kids' lives around.

Breaking Stereotypes

Often you'll hear critics say, "Maybe kids do better academically in single-gender schools, but surely kids do better in terms of social adjustment at coed schools." Maybe not. Educators at a conference in Sydney, Australia in July 2003 heard several speakers prevent evidence that kids who attend single-sex schools may do better in terms of maturity and social adjustment, than kids who attend coed schools. Dr. Bruce Cook, principal of the Southport School on the Gold Coast, told the audience that boys educated in single-sex schools end up being more confident around girls. "In coed schools, boys tend to adopt a 'masculine' attitude because girls are there," he said. "They feel they have to demonstrate their emerging masculinity by gross macho over-reaction." Boys in single-sex schools "become more sensitive men," and they're more polite, according to an article published July 6 2003 in the Sydney Morning Herald.

The New Gender Gap

Several articles have focussed on the growing gap between the performance of girls and boys in North American public schools. In this column, Jen Horsey documents the acceleration of this trend. In an even more provocative essay, columnist Peg Wente writes about the "complete reversal" in higher education over the past 25 years, such that females now substantially outnumber males in college, in law school and in medical school.

Single-sex classes get boys back to work

Researchers at Cambridge University, UK, examined the effects of single-sex classrooms in schools in four different neighborhoods, including rural, suburban and inner-city schools. They found that "using single-sex groups was a significant factor in establishing a school culture that would raise educational achievement." For example, at Morley High School in Leeds, only one-third of boys had been earning passing grades in German and French prior to institution of the program. After the change to single-sex classes, 100% of boys earned passing grades. Click on the link to read the story which appeared in the Sunday Telegraph March 30, 2003.

Girls and Boys Learn Differently

On Thursday February 27 2003, Dr. Sax (executive director of NASSPE) addressed a conference of the National Association of Independent Schools in New York City. Dr. Sax reviewed the latest evidence that girls and boys have innate differences in their ability to hear, drawing on recent work measuring brainstem auditory evoked responses (BAERs) in newborn babies, as well as more traditional measurements of hearing using headsets and older children. He also discussed the relevance of UCLA Professor Shelley Taylor's work on the difference ways in which girls and boys respond to stress and confrontation. On March 3 2003, the National Post (Canada's largest national newspaper) ran a front-page story about Dr. Sax's presentation. The following day, the National Post published an editorial on the same topic, entitled "Let Boys Be Boys".

Michigan State Senator Introduces Bill Legalizing Single-Sex Public Education

In Michigan, State Senator Michael Switalski has introduced a bill to clarify the legal muddle currently slowing the introduction of single-sex classrooms in public schools. This column, published February 10 2003 in the Detroit Free Press, highlights the controversy surrounding the proposed bill. On February 26 2003, Senator Switalski, Wayne County Commissioner Kwame Kenyatta, and NASSPE Executive Director Dr. Leonard Sax joined in a vigorous discussion of Senator Switalski's new legislation live on radio station WQBH.

Where the Boys Are

Globe and Mail reporter Ingrid Peritz wrote this fascinating article about a public high school in downtown Montreal where "division of the sexes is credited with helping turn a faltering inner-city high school into an educational success story".

Single-Sex Education: Ready for Prime Time?

An overview of the issues surrounding single-sex education, published in the August 2002 edition of The World & I, the Washington Times' monthly magazine.

The Odd Couple

An essay published in The Women's Quarterly, exploring the unique alliance between conservative Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) and Senator Hillary Clinton (D-New York), an alliance which resulted in the amendment "legalizing" single-sex education in public schools.

Same-Sex Schools Reduce Stereotyped Roles

A provocative and well-researched article by Lou Marano, staff reporter for UPI (United Press International), May 6 2002.

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