- An acquaintance who teaches at a Rochester City School District elementary school has a principal who wanted to see if single-sex classrooms improve learning. (I am not sharing the school, grade, or the teacher’s gender to protect teacher’s identity.) The teacher was assigned an all-boys classroom. The class is small, fewer than 20 students. The teacher was excited at the beginning of the school year.
The experiment is not working.
The classroom is akin to a grade-school frat house. The boys are aggressive. They “play fight.” They tell “boy jokes” to each other all day. They are filled with energy. The rambunctious class doesn’t get recess and has gym only once a week, down from three times a week last school year.
The teacher, who is no rookie, is able to maintain control and teach the day’s lessons. But the teacher says the classroom dynamic is much worse with all boys and the teacher spends far more time on classroom management.
This teacher’s experience brought to mind a recent study showing single-sex education is ineffective. The New York Times wrote up the research:
It asserts that “sex-segregated education is deeply misguided and often justified by weak, cherry-picked or misconstrued scientific claims rather than by valid scientific evidence.”
But the strongest argument against single-sex education, the article said, is that it reduces boys’ and girls’ opportunities to work together, and reinforces sex stereotypes. “Boys who spend more time with other boys become increasingly aggressive,” the article said. “Similarly, girls who spend more time with other girls become more sex-typed.”
The RCSD recently opened an all-boys high school at Charlotte. There is also an all-boys charter school, where the test results closely mirror those in the RCSD.
There is a mentality in poor-performing urban school districts that “we have to do something” to help failing children. But often, that “something” is not rooted in any research. In some cases, that “something” has actually been proven to not work, such as teacher bonuses.
This teacher’s story shows experimenting with kids is “something” that may not be right.
- Kudos to the Democrat and Chronicle for following up on the story of Alonzo Williams, a young man who has been missing. There has been growing frustration the news media ignores missing black people.
- The Pittsford Food Cupboard needs help. The shelves at the pantry in our area’s wealthiest community are nearly bare.
- Bobcats are making a comeback in New York State.