Friday, February 15, 2008

Greenville County offering single-gender public education

Left: Jackson Pollock, Male and Female (1942)

I'm not sure what to think about this:

J.L. Mann to offer single-gender education program

Incoming freshman can sign up for the program for next fall

Friday, February 15, 2008
J.L. Mann High School is starting a single-gender classroom program for incoming freshmen this fall, according to a news release from the Greenville County School District.

Single-gender classes will be offered to freshmen as an option for their four core academic classes: math, science, English and social studies.

Teachers already have been training on gender specific teaching techniques.

"It is so much more than just separating the young men and women," Principal Susan Hughes said. "We want to teach to the strengths of each group and the single gender classroom allows teachers to tailor their lesson plans to their audience."

Teachers have volunteered to participate in this new option, according to the release.

"I have seen how traditional classroom management can hinder a student and I am excited for the opportunity to help my students explore their academic prowess in an environment that can maximize and encourage their unique strengths," said Anthony Mooney, a freshmen social studies teacher.

Changes in the Title IX laws in 2006 allowed for public schools to offer single gender classes as long as a co-ed class was also available.

The program will be officially announced Wednesday at 6:45 p.m. during Registration Information Night in the school’s auditorium. Rising ninth graders and their parents who may be interested in this program are invited to attend.

The teachers will demonstrate how the same lesson plan would be taught in different ways to a boy’s class and a girl’s class. Parents can ask questions and meet the single gender teaching team.
I don't subscribe to the okey-doke that single-sex education is better. Where did this bromide come from?

The link to the National Association for Single Sex Public Education is provided in the Greenville News story. Does anyone know if this group has a political agenda? On the NASSPE website, the Mars/Venus stuff about how girls and boys learn differently seems hyped to a dogmatic level.

What's the best for the children? We must think of the children! ((wrings hands))
Listening to: The Count Five - Psychotic Reaction
via FoxyTunes


queen emily said...

Well, single-sex education is a big hobby horse for the Right here.

Which makes it suspicious from the start for me.

I think it's largely an anxiety about young people's (hetero) sexuality. Those oversexed kids, you know. And probably something about boundaries and naturally complementary genders--things were just so much better when boys were boys, girls were girls and no-one was oppressed, apparently.

But yeah, "separate but equal" rarely works out that way, so colour me skeptical.

Jung said...

JL Mann is blinded once again.

Drakyn said...

My high school had certain classes single-sex; based on the heterocentric idea of 'less distractions'. All it meant was what the class talked about when it got off topic and certain teachers gave the boys harder exam questions (these were the teachers that made a big deal about their feminism btw).
I hated it; I'd just read while my first and second year English classes got off-topic about $300 skirts and make-up and who's dating who. But then, so did most of my female friends too, so it's not like I think I hated it because I was a guy in a girls class.

Astraea said...

Hi, I followed your link on Feministe. I have a lot of problems with public same-sex education at this level. I find this organization pushing it troubling, too. The guy who heads it, Leonard Sax, has written a book about how boys are supposedly underperforming and he blames, in part, "devaluation of masculinity."

So I think you're right to be suspicious of NASSPE.

Rootietoot said...

My husband's school was seperated by gender from 5th through 9th grade. He is a HUGE proponent of the idea. He says that the distraction of girls simply wasn't there, and according to the female high school classmates he had, the fierce competition for male attention was also imply not there. Once everyone got into high school, they had matured a bit, and inter-sex relationships were easier to manage.

This is, of course, one man's testimony, and not the opinion of All Men.

queen emily said...

>>>The guy who heads it, Leonard Sax, has written a book about how boys are supposedly underperforming and he blames, in part, "devaluation of masculinity."

That "boys are underperforming" things gets play here in Australia every time the exam results come out, cos girls do *marginally* better than boys overall now. Boo. Hoo. One gender has to do better.

The thing is, it's a massive bloody misdirection, because it utterly conceals class - there is a far greater difference depending on economic background, school funding etc that never ever gets mentioned.

Drakyn said...

Oh, hey if you want to check it out, on LJ feminist ( they're discussing this too.

La Lubu said...

I hate the idea. In my school district, they are doing this "experimentally" in one middle school, and there is no fucking way in hell I would subject my daughter to this bullshit (parents are allowed to request their child's transfer if they aren't down with this idea---my feeling is that the idea will crash and burn long before my girl gets to middle school age, and it won't be brought to the middle school she'll attend anyway).

We already have pre-existing sexism, and pre-existing notions of what "girls are good at" and "what boys are good at". This program takes that to an extreme level, and classes are geared toward stereotypical ways girls and boys are supposed to express themselves. If you don't fit the stereotype, you're screwed.

Rootietoot, I have no doubt that your husband had a good experience, but look at it this way: it emphasizes the idea that females are a "problem" or "distraction"---and why? Because of sex. I am unconvinced that males who are educated in single-sex environments are willing to look upon women in the workplace as equals or as colleagues.

I work in an overwhelmingly male field. In my twenty years, I have noticed that men who lead lives that are sex-integrated are far more willing to accept and treat women as equals. Men who seldom deal with women other than family members? Significantly less so. It's like the difference between night and day. It's that dramatic. I am often in a position where I have to prove myself to men like that, and it takes years of exceptional work, and years of men on the job vouching for me to get some modicum of acceptance with those men. Just doing my job (y'know, like the men do) isn't good enough. And so much of that good-faith effort gets undone when I have to call in because my eight-year-old daughter is sick---any display of "mom" duties means I'm not a serious worker anymore. (Men who take family vacations or extended hunting trips are ok---yes, those double-standards are alive and well).

When I was in the sixth grade, I was given testing to pass ahead to the eighth grade. The (male) school district psychologist administered the tests. There were sections on visual-spatial ability, and the psychologist "helpfully" told me that it was ok if I didn't do very well on those sections, because girls weren't expected to do as well as the boys in those sections. So I blew the lid off the test, in time and number of correct answers (one of the sections basically amounted to tangrams, but I found all the visual-spacial sections incredibly easy---there was nothing to "figure out"---it was all self-evident, right there---couldn't figure out why the psychologist thought it was going to be hard.)

Until he started asking me questions about my sexuality and identity. It freaked him out so much that I was good at the "boy" section of the test, that he asked me if I had ever felt misunderstood, if I ever felt I was really a boy inside, if I was attracted to boys or girls, if I ever wanted to kiss a girl, stuff like that. I said, "no, I'm not a lesbian. My aunt Sal's a lesbian, and she really sucks at stuff like this. It's a stereotype that lesbians are like men, just like it's a stereotype that girls can't do math or put things together. That's why we have the Women's Movement now, so we can get equal opportunity for jobs and stuff. Pretty soon it's going to be illegal to discriminate against us, and you'll have to learn how to handle working with us, because we aren't going away."

And that ended his questioning. I was such a hopeful kid then. I really did believe, or wanted to believe, that progress was being made. That racism and sexism were waning, and that by the time I was a grandmother, people would look back at history and gape at the "world is flat" level of stupidity. Now I'm Somebody's Mother, and I'm pissed off that those same stupid attitudes have new live breathed into them---that my daughter will have a tougher time in many respects than I did proving her worth and abilities.

Same sex education? Hah. The real goal of the proponents of same sex education is a same sex workforce---all male, except for the scutwork. It's about rolling back feminist gains. It's easier to convince the girls to accept a lesser place, to accept that they don't have skills or intelligence, if they are isolated. If they can't see with their own eyes that it isn't true.