Boys and girls together in Alabama

Unwilling to fight the ACLU, Mobile County, Alabama schools have agreed to end mandatory single-sex classes. According to the civil liberties group, the sex segregation included a ban on boys and girls talking in the hallways or at lunch.

. . . at Hankins Middle School this year, teachers had been instructed to treat boys and girls differently. At a teacher training, teachers were informed that boys should be taught about “heroic behavior” but that girls should learn “good character.” Teachers were told that male hormone levels directly relate to success at “traditional male tasks” but that when stress levels rise in an adolescent girl’s brain, “other things shut down.”

A story in the Mobile Press-Register reported that a language arts exercise for sixth grade girls involved asking the girls to use as many descriptive words as possible to describe their dream wedding cake, while the boys were asked to brainstorm action verbs used in sports.

According to Mark Jones, whose son Jacob attends Hankins Middle School, the school principal told him that the changes at Hankins were necessary because boys’ and girls’ brains are so different that they needed different curriculums.

If true, that’s sounds awfully extreme. I wonder if the crackpot “Crockus” is involved.

While the Press-Register bemoans the loss of the single-sex program, the solution seems simple: Let parents choose single-sex or coed classes for their children and study the results.

Update: Education Gadfly flags a report on how to do single-sex education effectively.

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  1. Margo/Mom says:

    Boys and girls are different. No argument there. Yet their differences are more likely to occur along a continuum with lots of crossover in the middle, rather than a dichotomy. Carol Gilligan has done some good work about fitting girls development into the body of work in developmental psychology that centered primarily on males. Understanding the ways that girls develop can frequently shed light on previously overlooked traits of boys.

    I don’t know if the mandatory separated instruction was as gosh-awful as it sounds, but it appears to have jumped on a bandwagon laden with stereotypes and prescriptive assumptions. The fact that it was mandatory calls into question a whole lot of Constitutional questions to boot. The assertion that when female stress levels rise “other things shut down,” sounds positively Victorian to me. This kind of thinking used to justify banning females from fields such as medicine, law, or other professions requiring lots of education and thinking.

    There are certain plenty of males who are not interested in sports and females who don’t dream of wedding cakes–not to mention girls who are into sports and boys who will become decorators. Meeting divergent needs should never be confused with stereotyping.

  2. Unfortunately, the idiots at the ACLU have overlooked a trend which they seem to not care about. While educational achievement for females in school has increased, the same cannot be said of males. Typically, by the time a male finishes high school (if he even does so), he is at least 1 to 2 grade levels behind in math and reading, compared to females.

    In addition, studies have shown that females are kicking the butts of males academically, with females now earning more degrees than men at every level, and in some cases, females outnumber males on campus at a ratio of 2 to 1.

    Males in school are more likely to get sent to the deans office for discipline, more likely to engage in cutting class and truancy, etc. When a school implemented separate math classes for males and females, the achievement rate for both genders went up (gee, I guess the ACLU wants to keep kids stupid).

    At this rate, the males in today’s society are destined to becoming 2nd rate citizens in terms of education (of course, the AAUW doesn’t seem to care about this issue)

  3. I believe boys and girls are a distraction to each other – most definitely by sixth grade and continuing through high school. Thinking back, an all-girls class would have been wonderful.

  4. I don’t think I would have minded an all-girls class, but not if we had to do assignments that involved thinking about our ‘dream wedding cakes.’ Whiskey tango foxtrot, what kind of [expletive] is that?

  5. Bill, I doubt the ACLU cares so much that the classes were single gender so much as they were mandatory — and I certainly hope those examples were extreme outliers (wedding cakes?), not what was actually going on in terms of curriculum.

    Separating the girls and boys isn’t a bad idea, but not because learning styles are so much different — it’s the hormones, stupid.

    And it should be a choice.