Alpine Summit

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Gender Discrimination in Schools

A student at a Boston school is suing because of gender discrimination against boys. It's actually a really interesting article and I encourage you to read it all.

As for assignments, she said, one teacher expects students to type up class notes and decorate their notebooks with glitter and feathers.

''You can't expect a boy to buy pink paper and frills to decorate their notebooks," Little said.

I can't say I'm surprised about this sort of thing. It has been known that boys and girls learn in very different ways. Boys are more utilitarian in their learning: the "read a book, take a test" approach which is, for historical reasons, the "traditional" approach. Girls on the other hand learn in a relational environment; the "read a book and discuss it with people and do an art project describing it" approach. For a couple of decades now, educators for whatever reason, have been taking the "feminine" approach to learning as the "superior" approach to learning. Even when I was in elementary/middle/high school, I remember girls getting preferential treatment and doing far better than boys. I think this case is a little blown up, though.

Among Anglin's allegations: Girls face fewer restrictions from teachers, like being able to wander the hallways without passes, and girls are rewarded for abiding by the rules, while boys' more rebellious ways are punished.

Granted, rewarding people for doing what they're supposed to be doing is pretty stupid. But, punishing people for doing what they AREN'T supposed to be doing is perfectly fine. I guess his bigger issue is the girls are not punished when they misbehave, though I wasn't getting that from how the article was written.

Other societal forces have painted the success or failure of girls as dependent on being around boys. "If boys are around, their aggressiveness and willingness to take risks discourages girls to do better in school." I think that's complete crap and completely antithetical to wanting every student to succeed. Anyway, my point is, this attitude has led to an artificial suppression of males in schools because, in the minds of the faculty, they are leveling the playing field.

This is a great example of why gender-segregated schools are a good idea. A school that has classes for males and classes for females only would be able to tailor itself to the natural learning processes of the students instead of having to choose between two different types. The issue that arises with that though is that the students would then lack the social ability to operate socially with the opposite sex which is detrimental to the student in a very non-academic way. My solution? Offer gender-only classes for the primary courses (English, Math, Science, History, or general "core" classes) and have classes be integrated for other things (PE, Music, Art, etc.). That way, students are exposed to the opposite sex in social situations, but their core education is improved.