"A child's learning is the funtion more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Research Shows Single-Sex Schools No Benefit

In our current test-obsessed, straight jacket learning environments, girls are making greater test score gains than boys. This has led some to advocate giving boys some relief by re-segregating them in "divergent" learning environments, while leaving girls to have their brains cooked in the same old test preparation factories. All in the name of good science, of course.

Perhaps the support for this nonsense will be knocked down some by a new study reported by Alan Smithers and reported in the Observer. Here is a clip of a piece well worth reading in its entirety:
. . . a growing movement in the US argues that boys' and girls' brains develop differently, so they benefit from separate teaching styles. In Britain more and more mixed schools are using single-sex classes because of ongoing concerns over boys' results, which have consistently lagged behind those of girls.

But Smithers, who will present his findings at a co-education conference at Wellington College in Berkshire, said that whether a school was single-sex or not had little impact on how well it did. His exhaustive review of data from across the world showed no evidence that single-sex schools were consistently superior. In Hong Kong, where 10 per cent of schools are single-sex, girls appeared to do better. But in Belgium, where co-educational schools are in the minority, boys and girls who study together get the best results. He highlighted the fact that 40 per cent of people who had a single-sex education wanted their children to go to a co-educational school.

The work was carried out on behalf of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference, an organisation that represents the headteachers of some 250 leading independent schools in Britain. It comes after research published last month in Scotland showed that even in a co-educational school, separating pupils into single-sex classes failed to improve boys' performance. Rather than raising success rates, the move led to greater indiscipline, it found. . . .

Could it be that girls have historically been programmed to sit still, keep their mouths shut, and speak when spoken to, thus becoming perfectly adapted to today's school expectations? Perhaps boys and girls both would do better in every respect if they were offered something more consistent with, let's say, the basic needs of the human animal.

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