Sunday, March 02, 2008

Same Sex Education in a New Light

I think it has always been clear to every parent that boys and girls are different. There have been a raft of books about the differences in recent years: from Dobson's "Bringing Up Boys," to John Eldridge's "Wild at Heart" and even Robert Bly's "Iron John." It seems that more schools are now recognizing that reality and are providing same sex classrooms in public schools. Separating schoolboys from schoolgirls has long been a staple of private and parochial education. Maybe there is a good reason. It probably should happen in Sunday School as well.

The New York Times has just done a lengthy feature article on it which can be found here. They follow the research of Leonard Sax, a family physician turned author and advocate who this May will quit his medical practice to devote himself full time to promoting single-sex public education. I've quoted a couple of paragraphs from the article below. Some interesting stuff here.

Sax asserts that boys don’t hear as well as girls, which means that an instructor needs to speak louder in order for the boys in the room to hear her; and that boys’ visual systems are better at seeing action, while girls are better at seeing the nuance of color and texture.

The boys like being on their own, they say, because girls don’t appreciate their jokes and think boys are too messy, and are also scared of snakes. The walls of the boys’ classroom are painted blue, the light bulbs emit a cool white light and the thermostat is set to 69 degrees. In the girls’ room, by contrast, the walls are yellow, the light bulbs emit a warm yellow light and the temperature is kept six degrees warmer.

A group of Japanese researchers found girls’ drawings typically depict still lifes of people, pets or flowers, using 10 or more crayons, favoring warm colors like red, green, beige and brown; boys, on the other hand, draw action, using 6 or fewer colors, mostly cool hues like gray, blue, silver and black. This apparent difference, which Sax argues is hard-wired, causes teachers to praise girls’ artwork and make boys feel that they’re drawing incorrectly.

Under Sax’s leadership, teachers learn to say things like, “Damien, take your green crayon and draw some sparks and take your black crayon and draw some black lines coming out from the back of the vehicle, to make it look like it’s going faster.” “Now Damien feels encouraged,” Sax explained “To say to Damien: ‘Why don’t you use more colors? Why don’t you put someone in the vehicle?’ is as discouraging as if you say to Emily, ‘Well, this is nice, but why don’t you have one of them kick the other one — give us some action.’ ”


volkmar1108 said...


Just so happens we had a conversation around the dinner table this last week on the same subject.


hillschurch said...

It's an interesting (8 page) article. It concludes that there's not much improvement in scores and performance for students - unless they are from minority or poorer families. All the more reason to implement it! And there is no harm done when putting students in same sex classes.