Banning boys

Boys ruin school for girls, writes Tim Harford in Slate. Inspired by a British colleague’s happy memories of her all-girls’ school, now gone co-ed, he notes that London parents often choose single-sex schools for girls, but co-ed schools for boys. The co-ed schools therefore are mostly male.

According to research on Israeli students by economists Victor Lavy of Hebrew University and Analía Schlosser of Princeton, “boys benefit from being in a classroom with girls, but girls do not benefit from being in a classroom with boys.”

Boys pollute the educational system, it seems, for a number of unmysterious reasons: They wear down teachers, disrupt classes, and ruin the atmosphere for everyone. And more boys are worse than fewer boys, not because they egg each other on but simply because more of them can cause more trouble in total.

It is all rather troubling, especially for the parents of little angels like my daughters. Evidently, it is impossible to satisfy the — apparently justified — parental demand to educate girls in single-sex schools and boys in mixed classes. (Not for the first time in my life, I conclude that the world doesn’t have enough girls in it.)

Fifty percent of students are boys. Perhaps treating them as pollutants of the female Eden isn’t the right strategy.

The anti-boy sneers have Dr. Helen and her commenters calling for tar and feathers.

About Joanne


  1. Barry Garelick says:

    Has Sara Mead weighed in yet?

  2. As a coach and a teacher who has taught all-boy classes, I can say from experience that girls “pollute” a classroom also. I’m all for single sex-classrooms and schools.

  3. I was a boy. I read the article in question and I recall that way back when… my teachers controlled their classrooms and did not allow the boys or anyone else to run amuck. I agree that boy’s behavior could be a problem now, but boys have not changed. The school environment has.

  4. Having taught at an all-boys Catholic high school as well as in a public coed high school, I think teaching all boys is easier and more fun than dealing with the hassle of girls in the classroom. Girls distract, cop attitudes, preen themselves, talk and get moody. Guys are simple.