Learning: One Sex At A Time

1844 words - 7 pages

Segregated elementary classrooms in North America are resurfacing after becoming virtually non-existent after the 1950s. In 1972, after a law in the United States prohibited schools from discriminating academic programs from either sex, significant indicators of patterns of gender bias began to develop (Salomone, 2006, p. 781). Since then, social scientists have found that coeducation of both sexes in the same classroom is not a solution or remedy for deeply institutionalized preconceptions and attitudes and that gender inequalities are ingrained from elementary school through higher education (Salomone, 2006, p. 781). This paper will take a closer look at what researchers, educators, advocacy groups and students are discovering as this situation evolves. Examining the differences in how boys and girls learn, their experiences in single-sex classrooms and their social class may provide some insight to help us better understand the challenges experienced by many students.
Single-sex schools have a longer history than single-sex classrooms, therefore more recent research has been based on school settings rather than classrooms. Researchers seem divided on the issue on gender segregated classrooms within a larger coeducational facility. The majority of these studies suggest that grades improve when males and females are separated in learning environments. One study did not support these findings, but instead found that only the girls were able to improve their grades while boys were materially unaffected by the change in their learning environment (Chouinard, 2008, p. 131) Additionally, studies also reveal that low achieving students from antisocial subcultures, found predominantly in so-called ‘lower class’ socio-economic strata invert the values which schools try to teach, girls become promiscuous and highly sexualized while boys become rebellious (Davies, 2008, p. 317). When students do not connect with the academic elite or the athletic supremacy, they reach out to others like themselves and make up their own subcultures or tribes, often to their own detriment. These behaviours are a slippery slope, frequently leading to dropping out of school, petty crime and a lifetime of unrecognized potential.
Most of the available studies are focused on the American education system and include some significant prejudices, which materially affect the objectivity of the study, related to the long standing history of racial segregation in that country. Education systems in Canada have been sorting or segregating students into streams for decades. This sorting has not been by gender, but rather by higher level and lower level programs, orienting students toward one of two channels “going to post-secondary” and “not going to post-secondary”, to put it in laymen’s terms (Davies, 2008, p. 309). This educational protocol labels children early and by the time students are entering high school their career and economic future is largely...

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