Web 2.0 Educational Question

Educational Question:
Should students attend school with their own gender only?

I've been reading a book about the evolutionary differences in the brains of males and females, called The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature by Matt Ridley. Mr. Ridley suggests that since the genders think differently, they would both benefit from same-sex education. The idea keeps rolling around in my mind!

I attended both public school and an all girls school. I believe it is better for children to learn from each others differences male and female as well as all the other types of diversity. I found the all girls school very catty and due to the separation the girls seemed more interested in boys then when I was in mixed classes. Once the girls only girls were around the boys they were more aggressive and more sexually active. I have seen while teaching middle and high school that having them together does hinder their behaviors and not always in a bad way. As far as learning same sex may make the students feel equal but once they are in the real world there is no "equal". It comes down to who can do the bet job and hopefully the person hiring will not have preconceived notions as to one sex being superior to another. Its about the brains and personal qualities that makes a applicatant the best choice. Not their gender. Again just my experience in this crazy life. Taylor Kindt-Zander.wikidot.com

Thank you, Taylor. The book I'm reading is all theoretical so I'm definitely looking for others' real life experiences!

The school I teach at is mixed gender classes through 5th grade and then we do gender split for 6-7-8 but only when enrollment allows. I have mixed feelings on it also but for other reasons. The girls have really enjoyed being in a class by themselves. They are generally easy to teach and cooperative but can lack spunk. The boys don't seem to mind just being boys except that I don't feel we are trained to teach boys. We did the gender split knowing that boys and girls can learn differently and supposedly we were going to take advantage of that. I didn't and don't see it happening. I realized that their energy needed to be channeled and directed very differently. I had a group of 7th grade boys last year who were like a room full of puppy pitbulls. I knew I had to do something with this energy so they ended up putting on the musical Bremen Town Musicians. It was a huge success so this year we did Stone Soup and again they were amazing. Split gender can be a good thing but I don't think teachers are trained to recognize the differences and how to take advantage of them. I will say they were an exhausting group to work with! But I really enjoyed them and will miss their zest!

Very interesting! It seemed to me that if we were to separate the guys from the girls, there would be a need for training for sure. Thanks Mary.

Thanks for your invitation, CMac. Your page looks great. Did you make a custom theme?

I've often thought that starting an academy for girls would be an interesting idea — especially for high school girls who are not thriving in mainstream. I had a vision of getting them to take off their public personas as they came in the door. I felt that they would feel more free to truly express their talents and strengths and explore the companionship of learning together.

Hello Sue. I used one of the built-in themes from Wikidot, but spent about 5 hours yesterday messing around with the options and headings and page-breaks and so on. I like your vision and ideas for female only education!

Wow - what an interesting question! I have to say that these days that would probably be a bad idea for the same reason that I disagree with home schooling. Kids who aren't exposed to the "real" world don't know how to handle it when they do get there. I know the arguments are that home schooled kids are exposed to all kinds of social activities to help them adjust, but I can usually spot a home schooled kid a mile away. I agree with Taylor/Jennifer's comments about them being apt to be more aggressive (especially sexually) than if they are in a regular setting. I also believe that, though there are differences in maturity and brain development, there are an awful lot of kids who benefit from the mixed environment - in a good way. You did a great job on a thought-provoking, creative question - and I love your wiki page! You have inspired me to go play with my own now! Thanks! - D

Thanks D, for both your comments and compliments. I was home schooled for a year and was fortunate that a large community of home schoolers lived nearby (I was socialized!). I also did a year of Catholic school and the rest was public. The only time my education was isolated by sex was by default - my mom was my home school teacher and I have sisters, no brothers. I knew this question was a controversial one, which is why I posed it. Have fun customizing your wiki!

Hi Cristina,
Here I am, about to head out on the deck and lay out in the sun with your Detracking book (amongst other grad readings), and you add a new book to my summer reading! What a great question and I honestly have no idea where I stand on the issue. I think that I could see advantages and disadvantages to either side. Not to isolate my special edu. kids but I think of those classes because they are much smaller and it's easier to see the "gender divide". The boys naturally gravitate to the other guys and even the girls who do not speak outside of class, tend to gravitate towards each other. Yet, I am trying to promote collaborative activities that engage all students and develop communication skills. Realistically, is it really beneficial to isolate the genders when outside of school, they socialize with the opposite gender and in the long run, will have to work with the opposite gender?

Great job on the Wiki, too!

Well, I do love to read. I'll be honest, the first part of the book is dry (some of it was even a little over my head and I have a background in the science he discusses). But the last half is all about the interesting human nature stuff, where I found the inspiration for my question. Let me know if you want to borrow it! I also have no idea what my thoughts are on the issue, but all the comments are helping me think about many different aspects I wouldn't have thought of before. Thank you for your insight, Janell.

I know that research has been done that suggests at certain ages some subjects are better learned in same sex environments. In fact, our school district has, for lack of a better word, an experimental school, that runs on a balanced year timetable (roughly 8 weeks in school, then 2 weeks holiday, plus 4 weeks in July). They are piloting same gender classes for grades 7/8 next year. Parents got to choose whether their students were in the mixed or same gender class. Now, being a science teacher, there is something wrong with this- any research done to compare the 2 classes will not be valid since the groupings are not random, not to mention the fact that the balanced calendar is also a variable, and only one can be tested at a time.
I will look into this and see what more I can find out about this program.
But I do believe there are some things that could be taught in single gender classrooms. Mathematics, I think, has been shown to be better learned in this environment.


It's great to hear from a fellow scientist! The experimental program in your district is so interesting to me. While it isn't good to compare to variables at a time, I have often wondered how a balanced year timetable would affect learning and teaching. Another controversial topic in education! Thanks for your comment.

I am using a Mac as well and I love it!!! Your question ia quite thought provoking, but at the end of the day I believe we learn best from a diverse setting in which differing ideas and opinions can be shared. This works best in an environment of heterogeneously grouped males and females. It is easy to see how the girls tend to sit by other girls and the boys hang among themselves. I assign seats so that they intermingle and learn from each other - sometimes with positive results and sometimes not so positive but always a learning experience. Many people believe the academic environment would be improved if everyone wore the same uniform, but kids will always find something else to worry about. A same gender school wouldn't necessarily provide a better education - that can be easily achieved from smaller class sizes and more support. Having schools or classrooms made up of only girls or boys would misrepresent the world in which we live and would not prepare our students for the real world. It would make them rather sheltered in my opinion.

I love your site - good work!
Pam Oliveira

Ahh… I love macs. :) Thanks for your thoughts (I appreciate heterogeneity) and compliment too, Pam!

Wow! What a beautiful site, so nicely laid out.
To be honest, I haven't given this much thought. I'm not a fan of same sex education. We don't live in a world that practices same sex grouping in the workplace, etc. We try so hard to bring authentic situations into our classrooms, why would we limit ourselves to same sex schools?
Donna B.

Thanks Donna! I do wonder how much students are limited by same-sex education.

Very interesting question. I have not thought about this topic much but now that I have it is very intriguing to me. I do know of a couple of private schools in my area that are very high achieving same sex schools. I do not have enough background knowledge to have an opinion.

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