This post is published as a Web extension of our August 2012 Education Issue – our annual blow-out of all things educational. To read it in full, visit our e-store to purchase a copy or subscription.
By Clarissa Williams, Editorial Intern
Having a mix of boys and girls in the classroom is possibly one of the things that allows for better interaction and growth within a young child. But what happens when boys are placed in one classroom and girls are placed in another? Some look at this separation of sexes as sexist, while others believe it is a better form of teaching that will allow for more focused learning.
Single-sex learning programs have had several mixed reactions. When the program was instituted in an elementary school in Middleton Idaho, it sparked outrage in the community. According to Robin Gilbert, principal of Middleton Heights Elementary, the point of single-sex classrooms was not to confront issues of gender stereotyping, but to create an environment that permits modified instruction and cuts down on gender-driven distractions between young girls and boys. However, despite the positives associated with Gilbert’s decision, the program, as well as Gilbert, received much criticism.
Middle Heights Elementary is not the only school that instituted single-sex programs. Several schools across the country have applied this to their teaching strategies; however, because of the controversy associated with this separation, countless single-sex programs have been dropped at schools from Missouri to Louisiana, the Huffington Post reports. Despite the criticisms, many schools find these programs to be more than positive. While boys may do different things to prepare for a test or learn the material, boys and girls in single-sex classrooms still have the same curriculum, eat lunch together, and have recess together.
Same-sex classrooms may be the future for many schools; however, if parents do not want their child separated from the opposite sex, they can still opt to have them placed in a traditional coed classroom. As the fight to retain single-sex programs continues in many states, it would be helpful for all parents with young children to ‘bone up’ on what a single-sex program can offer.