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Friday, March 7, 2008

Empowering Girls: Girls-Only Public School


There is a fascinating piece in the New York Times Magazine, Teaching Boys and Girls Separately by Elizabeth Weil, about separating genders in a public school and how that's working well for a few schools.

The segregated classrooms are decorated differently and use different materials. Blue for boys, yellow for girls, cold for boys, warm for girls, cool white light for boys, warm yellow light for girls, snakes for boys, no snakes for girls.

From the article: In the first year of Foley’s single-sex program, a third of the kids enrolled. The next year, two-thirds signed up, and in its third year 87 percent of parents requested the program. Principal Mansell reports that her single-sex classes produce fewer discipline problems, more parental support and better scores in writing, reading and math. She does, however, acknowledge that her data are compromised, as her highest-performing teachers and her most-motivated students have chosen single-sex.

David Chadwell, the coordinator of Single- Gender Initiatives at the South Carolina Department of Education states in the article, You need to engage boys’ energy, use it, rather than trying to say, No, no, no. So instead of having boys raise their hands, you’re going to have boys literally stand up. You’re going to do physical representation of number lines. Relay races. Ball tosses during discussion.”

For the girls, Chadwell prescribes a focus on “the connections girls have (a) with the content, (b) with each other and (c) with the teacher. If you try to stop girls from talking to one another, that’s not successful. So you do a lot of meeting in circles, where every girl can share something from her own life that relates to the content in class.”

Leonard Sax, a family physician turned proponent of single-sex education offers up the two extremes for each gender: He opens “Why Gender Matters,” a book he wrote on the subject, with two cautionary tales: one about a boy who starts kindergarten at age 5, is given a diagnosis of A.D.H.D. and depression and ends up on a three-drug cocktail of Adderall, Wellbutrin and clonidine; the other about a girl who transforms “from chubby wallflower to outgoing socialite” in middle school, seems to have it all — friends, academic success — and then shocks her parents by overdosing on Vicodin and Xanax.

After presenting the Adderall-doped grammar-school boy and the suicidal middle-school girl, Sax offers a possible cause of these sad stories. “The neglect of gender in education and child-rearing has done real harm.” These tragedies “might have been averted if the parents had known enough about gender differences to recognize what was really happening in their child’s life.”

Of course the opponents of gender-segregation say Sax is cherry-picking gender studies that date back to the 1960s.

The article goes on to say that gender segregation is in response to the failure of No Child Left Behind, Despite six years of No Child Left Behind, the achievement gaps between rich and poor students and white and black students have not significantly narrowed. “People are getting desperate” is how Benjamin Wright, chief administrative officer for the Nashville public schools, described the current interest in single-sex education to me. “Coed’s not working. Time to try something else.”

Here's some pretty sad statistics about the nature of educational pitfalls for boys: Nationwide, boys are nearly twice as likely as girls to be suspended, and more likely to drop out of high school than girls (65 percent of boys complete high school in four years; 72 percent of girls do). Boys make up two-thirds of special-education students. They are 1.5 times more likely to be held back a grade and 2.5 times more likely to be given diagnoses of A.D.H.D.

The Young Women’s Leadership School in Harlem is widely considered the birthplace of the current single-sex public school movement. This position of eminence stems from both its early beginnings and its success: since opening in 1996, every girl in every senior class at T.Y.W.L.S. has graduated and been accepted at a four-year college.

As the Supreme Court would rule in June 1996, just three months before T.Y.W.L.S. opened, the legality of single-sex schools depends on context,

The A.C.L.U. opposes gender-segregation in public schools.

The article goes on to talk about the sexualization of girls in public schools and the fact that dating culture has been replaced by hook up culture. Nearly everyone at T.Y.W.L.S. acknowledges that often parents’ most pressing concern when enrolling their 11-year-old daughters is sheltering those girls from sexualized classrooms and sexualized streets.

“Boys at boys’ schools like Old Farms in Connecticut, or Saint Albans in Washington, D. C., will call up girls at Miss Porter’s in Connecticut, at Stone Ridge in Maryland, and they will ask the girl out, and the boy will drive to the girl’s house to pick her up and meet her parents. You tell kids at a coed school to do this, and they’ll fall on the floor laughing. But the culture of dating is much healthier than the culture of the hookup, in which the primary form of sexual intimacy is a girl on her knees servicing a boy,” Sax is quoted as saying in the article.

I think it's a fascinating subject. I'm undecided. Like the Supreme Court, I think it's a matter of context. I can see where there is potential for benefit for both genders, but I want to avoid any type of discrimination.

Anyone have a concrete opinion about the issue? Anyone ever go to an all-girls' school or have a single-gender classroom and want to share their experiences?

20 comments:

Whirlwind said...

This is an interesting subject and I've heard alot more about it recently. I'm interesting to see what the results are if more public schools go single sex.

As a mother of three girls, all of whom are getting older, I dread those teenage years that are getting closer and closer. I try to let my six year old be a child as long as she can and so far, she doesn't show an interest in pop culture tween shows like many of her classmates. Her two best friends are male and while I really like the kids, I know a time will come where their relationships will change.

They go to a private school, so the general dynamic is different from public school. I'm not naive to think that things will be different, however, in our area, I know from experience that the private school parents are a little more involved than a majority of the public school kids. So I hope in knowing who my kids are friends with and knowing many of their parents have similar values to us, it will help prevent the "hanging out at a friends house with our "friends with benefits" and hooking up" playdates, because I know if she goes over x's house, she won't be allowed to leave and she will be properly supervised.

Anyway, those are just personal views and like I said, I'm interesting to see how this initiative works out over the next few years.

Tracee said...

Thanks for your comment Whirlwind.

I'm interested too. I think a while back my knee-jerk reaction would have been the same as the ACLU. No discrimination.

But, since my Kindergartener comes home every single day and talks about who Hayden - the hot boy in her class - likes today (he gets around this kid and seems to pick a different girl every day or week to be his "girlfriend.") I wish "being valued by the boys" were a non-issue for many, many more years.

Also, I'm not liking the stats for boys (I have one of those too). They've cut out most recess, aren't allowed to talk at lunch, teach to the No Child Left Behind Test constantly - which is not stimulating.

I guess I'm just open to more solutions now. Open to trying new strategies to get a better result.

Anonymous said...

This is very interesting to me. I think gender separation is a fantastic idea. I once worked with a girl who went to an all girls school. She loved it. Said it was a much less stressful learning atmosphere than her experience at a co-ed school.

I totally remember focusing more on how my hair and clothes looked than the lesson the teacher was lecturing. You know I met my husband in Chemistry class right? We both nearly failed :)

Jen
jlogged.com

Sierra said...

As I have an interest in linguistics, I've been seeing a fair bit of "man from Mars/woman from Venus" over the last few years. I'm more than tired of it and hope it goes out of fashion soon.

Essentially, this is ideology masquerading as science. Sax does cherry pick data, that is demonstrable fact. And he's not the only one to be so sloppy.

E.g., he's quoted on big differences in hearing between boys and girls but the evidence doesn't support it. The problem with his assertion, as with others like it, is the variation within the sexes is much greater than the average difference *between* the sexes. So the result might be interesting to scientists scrutinising fine detail but its useless for basing education policy on.

Further, it's easy for a school to get good results when they're selecting at the door.

I'll shush now.

Tracee said...

I thought his science was sketchy too. He's also quoting "brain size" which doesn't equate to "smart" scientifically.

I'm also a little perterbed at the idea that only boys need to stand up, move around and be loud.

Ask my husband how well I do sitting for a sermon in church. I smoked for 20 years and one of the main reasons was so that I'd have an excuse to get out of my chair during things where I was supposed to sit down and be quiet for long periods.

I'm thinking Ainlsey could use some more active time in school too.

Whirlwind said...

Tracee, To quote you "Also, I'm not liking the stats for boys (I have one of those too). They've cut out most recess, aren't allowed to talk at lunch, teach to the No Child Left Behind Test constantly - which is not stimulating."

And I think thats a huge problem with the public school system in general. I think for education to really benefit kids the way it's supposed to, there needs to be a huge overhaul of the whole system, which unfortunately, costs money.

It's one of the reasons we choose private school. For one, they still have a good chunk of recess. At lunch they are free to talk and are not subjected to a quick lunch. If it takes them a bit longer to eat, they can sit and eat and go out for recess when they are done (of course, they don't get as long of a recess, but they are not rushed to eat either). Their teacher this year encourages them to get up and move too. She will put on a CD where the kids can get up and dance to one or two songs just to get moving between lessons.

The whole clothes thing - ughh I remember those days! Thankfully, again, they have uniforms, so I don't have those battles. They have two choices and thats it. So far, it seems to work well.

Thankfully, my first grader hasn't gotten into the boyfriend/girlfriend phase. She does say she's going to marry her best friend (one of the two boys I mentioned before) but thats the extent of that. She doesn't talk of others being "boyfriend/girlfriend" yet either. One of her two best friends mom told me once, "I don't think X knows Einey's a girl. He doesn't act the he does around other girls when she's around. He just knows her as his best friend". And I think at this age (6) all relationships should be like that. They shouldn't be focused on gender.

It would be interesting to see the end results. How would kids act around kids of the opposite sex after being separated? Would they shy away? Would they be more ignorant due to not having that social interaction? Or would they adapt easily to going from single sex to co-ed? Would it wider then gender gap?

Tracee said...

Those are all great things to have in a school whirlwind.

I would prefer all of those "extras" to be a given in public school so all children would have access to them.

I mean, I went to several public schools and we were allowed to talk at lunch and had 3 recesses. I went to several different kinds of schools - as a military brat - and most of them didn't teach to a standardized test.

There is no private school in my town and in my old town it was about $400 a month per kid.

Which means that you have to be in a certain socio-economic class to be able to afford a decent education for your kid? (We can't currently afford that.)

I think ALL kids should have access to a very good education.

Sierra said...

Now that it's been mentioned a couple of times, what on earth is this no talking at lunch business? And how much breaktime do the kids actually get? I'm not in the U.S. so I'm curious.

Tracee said...

Sierra, I can't speak for all schools, my daughter is only in Kindergarten and she's only attended 2 schools. And let me say, I have no major complaints about the education she's getting.

But, they were only going outside sometimes and then only once a day at her first school. At this school she gets PE 3 days a week, but it's often indoors in the gym. I think she only gets one recess a day.

They are pretty nutty about talking at lunch. No talking in the halls. No talkin in lines. They have all these rules about where you have to sit during lunch. Even after school they are herded single file and aren't allowed to talk while they wait to be picked up.

They have all these great reasons - preventing fights, preventing chaos, etc.

But, they do seem to have lost their sense of humor. Ainsley reports there are about 4 boys that disrupt the classroom all day long. Some, I know, have already been diagnosed with ADHD and are on medication - they are only 5 & 6.

I can't help but think they'd be less disruptive if they were given more recess and more time to be loud and active.

Whirlwind said...

Tracee -

I definitely agree. I think more and more programs are being pulled from public schools and it's a shame. Kids need breaks from school to get up and move and I agree, it is probably part of the reason more and more kids are being diagnosed as having ADD.

Kids should be allowed to talk at lunch. If they can't talk in the hall, at lunch or in class, when are they allowed to talk? It's just not right to keep them silenced for that long. They need to be able to express their thoughts and ideas.

Schmutzie said...

Again, as is common, there is confusion about "gender" vs. "sex". This issue is about splitting people up according to their genitalia, NOT gender, and I would contend that strict enforcement of stringent gender rules for behaviour, which is rampant in our school systems, places a lot of pressure on children to fit into restrictive roles and plays at least a small part in failing students.

It sounds to me that splitting up the examples of the boy's and girl's downfalls solely along gender lines will keep us from getting the true picture of what is going on. It deflects the real issue at hand from failing school systems to what's in our childrens' pants, and gender is not as simple as one and one makes two.

Sierra said...

Thank you for your answer, Tracee. I'm pretty stunned. I feel sorry for those kids and I hope that your daughter's kindy is atypical.

Violet said...

I’m not against same sex schools per se, but I think interaction with the opposite sex is something that children need to practice just like everything else in life.

I hate to use the word sexuality because it freaks parents out, but let's just say that children are curious about the opposite sex from a very young age -- and those feelings are natural and normal.

Awkward attempts and missteps are part of the process. I remember doing embarrassing things like declaring my love to my playground “boyfriend” in second grade, only to be crushed when he decided a week later that he liked Crystal better. My first kiss was a peck with a boy in the first grade.

I also think girls may as well learn how to interact with men on other levels as well. Figuring out how to be heard in a room full of outspoken men is a worthwhile skill to start practicing.

Tracee said...

That's a good point Shmutzie. I do spend a great deal of time trying to rid my children of their gender-defining identities to a degree.

The article (which is very long and in-depth) does bring this point of to a certain extent. Someone pointed out that they may as well be saying, "Girls should be barefoot and pregnant at home with the children" and "boys should be out working and bringing home the butter" that's what each gender wants. (I am TOTALLY paraphrasing here.)

They also say there are so many "exceptions to these rules" about gender that it makes the whole concept destined to fail. Not all girls feel a need to discuss context and talk all the time and not all boys have to jump around, play with snakes and make fart jokes. Duh.

Tracee said...

Violet - you also make an exceptionally good point.

Are these boys and girls going to grow up and live in a segregated little world where they don't have to interact and relate?

Obviously not.

The interaction and practice getting along and relating to the opposite sex probably is invaluable.

hmmm, there have been so many insightful comments about this issue. Really makes me think - what would I do given the option?

DJ Nelson said...

I went to an all-girls school. I'll write about it tomorrow. Thanks for the idea :)

Tracee said...

She did post a great story about her all girls' school that made me want to send Ainsley to one for high school. Check it out here: http://www.alldivamedia.com/blog/2008/03/19/confessions-of-a-all-girls-school-graduate/

Sarah said...

A very thoughtful and fascinating post!

"I'm also a little perterbed at the idea that only boys need to stand up, move around and be loud.

I think many of the learning issues here address learning style, not gender, which is an area of expertise for me. More boys than girls are kinesthetic learners ("action"), but there are some girls who need to move, touch and do in order to learn. You are probably one of those, from your feelings about sitting still and listening.

I had a friend who homeschooled, and her daughter bounced on a little trampoline while doing math facts and spelling. Many girls are visual or auditory learners, which are perfect for traditional classrooms.

Having only daughters, I have seen many benefits from my 7 year old being in a class with boys, socially. Groups of girls can also be quite nasty in my experience.

As for the s*xual*zation of young girls... I am very scared about this. The thought of my daughters going to a middle school "dance", at which the kids are unbelievably s*xual TERRIFIES me. Who knows, I may homeschool through middle and high school.

Tracee said...

Sarah, you bring up a big issue - is the mean girl behavior amplified by the fact that there are no boys to mute or witness it?

Through much of my childhood I hung out with boys because they weren't so damn mean and vicious. If you've ever been the victim of a mean girl I imagine the idea of going to an all-girls school is worse than the idea of going to hell. There were certain ages when I'd have preferred to attend an all-boys school as a girl.

Christine @ Serenity How? said...

I think it's a great idea to keep boys and girls separate, at least in the classroom. I've helped in both of my daughter's classrooms over the years and have noticed how much distraction there is with boys showing off for girls and vice versa. It's hard on the teachers as well.

My daughters are too young to be interested in boys (yet), but they still find the way boys behave (or don't LOL!) to be interesting because it's different.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Empowering Girls: Girls-Only Public School


There is a fascinating piece in the New York Times Magazine, Teaching Boys and Girls Separately by Elizabeth Weil, about separating genders in a public school and how that's working well for a few schools.

The segregated classrooms are decorated differently and use different materials. Blue for boys, yellow for girls, cold for boys, warm for girls, cool white light for boys, warm yellow light for girls, snakes for boys, no snakes for girls.

From the article: In the first year of Foley’s single-sex program, a third of the kids enrolled. The next year, two-thirds signed up, and in its third year 87 percent of parents requested the program. Principal Mansell reports that her single-sex classes produce fewer discipline problems, more parental support and better scores in writing, reading and math. She does, however, acknowledge that her data are compromised, as her highest-performing teachers and her most-motivated students have chosen single-sex.

David Chadwell, the coordinator of Single- Gender Initiatives at the South Carolina Department of Education states in the article, You need to engage boys’ energy, use it, rather than trying to say, No, no, no. So instead of having boys raise their hands, you’re going to have boys literally stand up. You’re going to do physical representation of number lines. Relay races. Ball tosses during discussion.”

For the girls, Chadwell prescribes a focus on “the connections girls have (a) with the content, (b) with each other and (c) with the teacher. If you try to stop girls from talking to one another, that’s not successful. So you do a lot of meeting in circles, where every girl can share something from her own life that relates to the content in class.”

Leonard Sax, a family physician turned proponent of single-sex education offers up the two extremes for each gender: He opens “Why Gender Matters,” a book he wrote on the subject, with two cautionary tales: one about a boy who starts kindergarten at age 5, is given a diagnosis of A.D.H.D. and depression and ends up on a three-drug cocktail of Adderall, Wellbutrin and clonidine; the other about a girl who transforms “from chubby wallflower to outgoing socialite” in middle school, seems to have it all — friends, academic success — and then shocks her parents by overdosing on Vicodin and Xanax.

After presenting the Adderall-doped grammar-school boy and the suicidal middle-school girl, Sax offers a possible cause of these sad stories. “The neglect of gender in education and child-rearing has done real harm.” These tragedies “might have been averted if the parents had known enough about gender differences to recognize what was really happening in their child’s life.”

Of course the opponents of gender-segregation say Sax is cherry-picking gender studies that date back to the 1960s.

The article goes on to say that gender segregation is in response to the failure of No Child Left Behind, Despite six years of No Child Left Behind, the achievement gaps between rich and poor students and white and black students have not significantly narrowed. “People are getting desperate” is how Benjamin Wright, chief administrative officer for the Nashville public schools, described the current interest in single-sex education to me. “Coed’s not working. Time to try something else.”

Here's some pretty sad statistics about the nature of educational pitfalls for boys: Nationwide, boys are nearly twice as likely as girls to be suspended, and more likely to drop out of high school than girls (65 percent of boys complete high school in four years; 72 percent of girls do). Boys make up two-thirds of special-education students. They are 1.5 times more likely to be held back a grade and 2.5 times more likely to be given diagnoses of A.D.H.D.

The Young Women’s Leadership School in Harlem is widely considered the birthplace of the current single-sex public school movement. This position of eminence stems from both its early beginnings and its success: since opening in 1996, every girl in every senior class at T.Y.W.L.S. has graduated and been accepted at a four-year college.

As the Supreme Court would rule in June 1996, just three months before T.Y.W.L.S. opened, the legality of single-sex schools depends on context,

The A.C.L.U. opposes gender-segregation in public schools.

The article goes on to talk about the sexualization of girls in public schools and the fact that dating culture has been replaced by hook up culture. Nearly everyone at T.Y.W.L.S. acknowledges that often parents’ most pressing concern when enrolling their 11-year-old daughters is sheltering those girls from sexualized classrooms and sexualized streets.

“Boys at boys’ schools like Old Farms in Connecticut, or Saint Albans in Washington, D. C., will call up girls at Miss Porter’s in Connecticut, at Stone Ridge in Maryland, and they will ask the girl out, and the boy will drive to the girl’s house to pick her up and meet her parents. You tell kids at a coed school to do this, and they’ll fall on the floor laughing. But the culture of dating is much healthier than the culture of the hookup, in which the primary form of sexual intimacy is a girl on her knees servicing a boy,” Sax is quoted as saying in the article.

I think it's a fascinating subject. I'm undecided. Like the Supreme Court, I think it's a matter of context. I can see where there is potential for benefit for both genders, but I want to avoid any type of discrimination.

Anyone have a concrete opinion about the issue? Anyone ever go to an all-girls' school or have a single-gender classroom and want to share their experiences?

20 comments:

Whirlwind said...

This is an interesting subject and I've heard alot more about it recently. I'm interesting to see what the results are if more public schools go single sex.

As a mother of three girls, all of whom are getting older, I dread those teenage years that are getting closer and closer. I try to let my six year old be a child as long as she can and so far, she doesn't show an interest in pop culture tween shows like many of her classmates. Her two best friends are male and while I really like the kids, I know a time will come where their relationships will change.

They go to a private school, so the general dynamic is different from public school. I'm not naive to think that things will be different, however, in our area, I know from experience that the private school parents are a little more involved than a majority of the public school kids. So I hope in knowing who my kids are friends with and knowing many of their parents have similar values to us, it will help prevent the "hanging out at a friends house with our "friends with benefits" and hooking up" playdates, because I know if she goes over x's house, she won't be allowed to leave and she will be properly supervised.

Anyway, those are just personal views and like I said, I'm interesting to see how this initiative works out over the next few years.

Tracee said...

Thanks for your comment Whirlwind.

I'm interested too. I think a while back my knee-jerk reaction would have been the same as the ACLU. No discrimination.

But, since my Kindergartener comes home every single day and talks about who Hayden - the hot boy in her class - likes today (he gets around this kid and seems to pick a different girl every day or week to be his "girlfriend.") I wish "being valued by the boys" were a non-issue for many, many more years.

Also, I'm not liking the stats for boys (I have one of those too). They've cut out most recess, aren't allowed to talk at lunch, teach to the No Child Left Behind Test constantly - which is not stimulating.

I guess I'm just open to more solutions now. Open to trying new strategies to get a better result.

Anonymous said...

This is very interesting to me. I think gender separation is a fantastic idea. I once worked with a girl who went to an all girls school. She loved it. Said it was a much less stressful learning atmosphere than her experience at a co-ed school.

I totally remember focusing more on how my hair and clothes looked than the lesson the teacher was lecturing. You know I met my husband in Chemistry class right? We both nearly failed :)

Jen
jlogged.com

Sierra said...

As I have an interest in linguistics, I've been seeing a fair bit of "man from Mars/woman from Venus" over the last few years. I'm more than tired of it and hope it goes out of fashion soon.

Essentially, this is ideology masquerading as science. Sax does cherry pick data, that is demonstrable fact. And he's not the only one to be so sloppy.

E.g., he's quoted on big differences in hearing between boys and girls but the evidence doesn't support it. The problem with his assertion, as with others like it, is the variation within the sexes is much greater than the average difference *between* the sexes. So the result might be interesting to scientists scrutinising fine detail but its useless for basing education policy on.

Further, it's easy for a school to get good results when they're selecting at the door.

I'll shush now.

Tracee said...

I thought his science was sketchy too. He's also quoting "brain size" which doesn't equate to "smart" scientifically.

I'm also a little perterbed at the idea that only boys need to stand up, move around and be loud.

Ask my husband how well I do sitting for a sermon in church. I smoked for 20 years and one of the main reasons was so that I'd have an excuse to get out of my chair during things where I was supposed to sit down and be quiet for long periods.

I'm thinking Ainlsey could use some more active time in school too.

Whirlwind said...

Tracee, To quote you "Also, I'm not liking the stats for boys (I have one of those too). They've cut out most recess, aren't allowed to talk at lunch, teach to the No Child Left Behind Test constantly - which is not stimulating."

And I think thats a huge problem with the public school system in general. I think for education to really benefit kids the way it's supposed to, there needs to be a huge overhaul of the whole system, which unfortunately, costs money.

It's one of the reasons we choose private school. For one, they still have a good chunk of recess. At lunch they are free to talk and are not subjected to a quick lunch. If it takes them a bit longer to eat, they can sit and eat and go out for recess when they are done (of course, they don't get as long of a recess, but they are not rushed to eat either). Their teacher this year encourages them to get up and move too. She will put on a CD where the kids can get up and dance to one or two songs just to get moving between lessons.

The whole clothes thing - ughh I remember those days! Thankfully, again, they have uniforms, so I don't have those battles. They have two choices and thats it. So far, it seems to work well.

Thankfully, my first grader hasn't gotten into the boyfriend/girlfriend phase. She does say she's going to marry her best friend (one of the two boys I mentioned before) but thats the extent of that. She doesn't talk of others being "boyfriend/girlfriend" yet either. One of her two best friends mom told me once, "I don't think X knows Einey's a girl. He doesn't act the he does around other girls when she's around. He just knows her as his best friend". And I think at this age (6) all relationships should be like that. They shouldn't be focused on gender.

It would be interesting to see the end results. How would kids act around kids of the opposite sex after being separated? Would they shy away? Would they be more ignorant due to not having that social interaction? Or would they adapt easily to going from single sex to co-ed? Would it wider then gender gap?

Tracee said...

Those are all great things to have in a school whirlwind.

I would prefer all of those "extras" to be a given in public school so all children would have access to them.

I mean, I went to several public schools and we were allowed to talk at lunch and had 3 recesses. I went to several different kinds of schools - as a military brat - and most of them didn't teach to a standardized test.

There is no private school in my town and in my old town it was about $400 a month per kid.

Which means that you have to be in a certain socio-economic class to be able to afford a decent education for your kid? (We can't currently afford that.)

I think ALL kids should have access to a very good education.

Sierra said...

Now that it's been mentioned a couple of times, what on earth is this no talking at lunch business? And how much breaktime do the kids actually get? I'm not in the U.S. so I'm curious.

Tracee said...

Sierra, I can't speak for all schools, my daughter is only in Kindergarten and she's only attended 2 schools. And let me say, I have no major complaints about the education she's getting.

But, they were only going outside sometimes and then only once a day at her first school. At this school she gets PE 3 days a week, but it's often indoors in the gym. I think she only gets one recess a day.

They are pretty nutty about talking at lunch. No talking in the halls. No talkin in lines. They have all these rules about where you have to sit during lunch. Even after school they are herded single file and aren't allowed to talk while they wait to be picked up.

They have all these great reasons - preventing fights, preventing chaos, etc.

But, they do seem to have lost their sense of humor. Ainsley reports there are about 4 boys that disrupt the classroom all day long. Some, I know, have already been diagnosed with ADHD and are on medication - they are only 5 & 6.

I can't help but think they'd be less disruptive if they were given more recess and more time to be loud and active.

Whirlwind said...

Tracee -

I definitely agree. I think more and more programs are being pulled from public schools and it's a shame. Kids need breaks from school to get up and move and I agree, it is probably part of the reason more and more kids are being diagnosed as having ADD.

Kids should be allowed to talk at lunch. If they can't talk in the hall, at lunch or in class, when are they allowed to talk? It's just not right to keep them silenced for that long. They need to be able to express their thoughts and ideas.

Schmutzie said...

Again, as is common, there is confusion about "gender" vs. "sex". This issue is about splitting people up according to their genitalia, NOT gender, and I would contend that strict enforcement of stringent gender rules for behaviour, which is rampant in our school systems, places a lot of pressure on children to fit into restrictive roles and plays at least a small part in failing students.

It sounds to me that splitting up the examples of the boy's and girl's downfalls solely along gender lines will keep us from getting the true picture of what is going on. It deflects the real issue at hand from failing school systems to what's in our childrens' pants, and gender is not as simple as one and one makes two.

Sierra said...

Thank you for your answer, Tracee. I'm pretty stunned. I feel sorry for those kids and I hope that your daughter's kindy is atypical.

Violet said...

I’m not against same sex schools per se, but I think interaction with the opposite sex is something that children need to practice just like everything else in life.

I hate to use the word sexuality because it freaks parents out, but let's just say that children are curious about the opposite sex from a very young age -- and those feelings are natural and normal.

Awkward attempts and missteps are part of the process. I remember doing embarrassing things like declaring my love to my playground “boyfriend” in second grade, only to be crushed when he decided a week later that he liked Crystal better. My first kiss was a peck with a boy in the first grade.

I also think girls may as well learn how to interact with men on other levels as well. Figuring out how to be heard in a room full of outspoken men is a worthwhile skill to start practicing.

Tracee said...

That's a good point Shmutzie. I do spend a great deal of time trying to rid my children of their gender-defining identities to a degree.

The article (which is very long and in-depth) does bring this point of to a certain extent. Someone pointed out that they may as well be saying, "Girls should be barefoot and pregnant at home with the children" and "boys should be out working and bringing home the butter" that's what each gender wants. (I am TOTALLY paraphrasing here.)

They also say there are so many "exceptions to these rules" about gender that it makes the whole concept destined to fail. Not all girls feel a need to discuss context and talk all the time and not all boys have to jump around, play with snakes and make fart jokes. Duh.

Tracee said...

Violet - you also make an exceptionally good point.

Are these boys and girls going to grow up and live in a segregated little world where they don't have to interact and relate?

Obviously not.

The interaction and practice getting along and relating to the opposite sex probably is invaluable.

hmmm, there have been so many insightful comments about this issue. Really makes me think - what would I do given the option?

DJ Nelson said...

I went to an all-girls school. I'll write about it tomorrow. Thanks for the idea :)

Tracee said...

She did post a great story about her all girls' school that made me want to send Ainsley to one for high school. Check it out here: http://www.alldivamedia.com/blog/2008/03/19/confessions-of-a-all-girls-school-graduate/

Sarah said...

A very thoughtful and fascinating post!

"I'm also a little perterbed at the idea that only boys need to stand up, move around and be loud.

I think many of the learning issues here address learning style, not gender, which is an area of expertise for me. More boys than girls are kinesthetic learners ("action"), but there are some girls who need to move, touch and do in order to learn. You are probably one of those, from your feelings about sitting still and listening.

I had a friend who homeschooled, and her daughter bounced on a little trampoline while doing math facts and spelling. Many girls are visual or auditory learners, which are perfect for traditional classrooms.

Having only daughters, I have seen many benefits from my 7 year old being in a class with boys, socially. Groups of girls can also be quite nasty in my experience.

As for the s*xual*zation of young girls... I am very scared about this. The thought of my daughters going to a middle school "dance", at which the kids are unbelievably s*xual TERRIFIES me. Who knows, I may homeschool through middle and high school.

Tracee said...

Sarah, you bring up a big issue - is the mean girl behavior amplified by the fact that there are no boys to mute or witness it?

Through much of my childhood I hung out with boys because they weren't so damn mean and vicious. If you've ever been the victim of a mean girl I imagine the idea of going to an all-girls school is worse than the idea of going to hell. There were certain ages when I'd have preferred to attend an all-boys school as a girl.

Christine @ Serenity How? said...

I think it's a great idea to keep boys and girls separate, at least in the classroom. I've helped in both of my daughter's classrooms over the years and have noticed how much distraction there is with boys showing off for girls and vice versa. It's hard on the teachers as well.

My daughters are too young to be interested in boys (yet), but they still find the way boys behave (or don't LOL!) to be interesting because it's different.