1. What do you see as the advantages and disadvantages of single-sex education?
  2. Would you consider sending your own son or daughter (real or imagined) to a single-sex school?
  3.  “Good teaching for boys turned out to look a lot like good teaching.”  This line reminded me of a similar statement from a Glassboro (now Rowan) professor: special education is also just good teaching.  Am I alone in thinking that this could be Peg Tyre’s thesis statement for this book?

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Lisa,

2. No, I like that my daughters interact with boys. My kindergardener has play dates with a little boy from her class. I hope they stay friends as they grow up.

3. Yes! When I taught ESL, same thing. I got my degree in ESL in 2000, and modifying lessons for students' abilities was a huge part of the teaching strategies. Today we call it differentiation, and have decided that it's good for everyone. Also using visual aids, reducing anxieties, getting to know the kids, and teaching reading strategies. All things that are good for everyone. We did a lot of hands-on work with manipulatives and realia, we used technology, we ate, cooked, and played games. And when I went to collect my 3rd graders from their classrooms, the other kids begged to come too. I started an incentive called, "Bring a friend to ESL Day," and the classroom teachers and I would allow the ESL students to choose a friend to bring to our class (usually near holidays, etc.). It gave them great status and allowed me to get to know some regular ed kids. Having small groups allowed me to do so much "fun" stuff, but the point is, the kids wanted in.

After reading the chapter on higher ed, I still think Tyre is focused on reaching boys specifically, but she has mentioned active girls who have a hard time in school as well.
Gee, it all boils down to "Good teaching is good teaching?" That implies that if our students aren't succeeding it's our fault, and I beg to differ, Peg. The desire to learn is extremely important. And the freedom to express that desire shouldn't be stifled by another classmate. Good teaching is paramount, but "you can lead a horse to water..."
Now I would send my son or daughter to a single-sex school, if it was affordable. I see the social pressure in middle school, the teasinging (playful or cruel), the self-conscious student who refuses to ask or participate. If I like Johnny and don't want him to think I don't understand math, then I'm not asking questions in math class. Besides I'd worry about having a bad hair day, and that Johnny is going to find Mary much prettier than I, with her gorgeous hair, and how in the world do you expect me to think about algebra? As a Mom, I want my son and daughter to be taught in a style condusive to his/her learning. I don't want him/her to hate school, be bored by it, or fail.
I had the opportunity to talk to a young lady who attended an all-girl school and she loved the atmosphere. She didn't worry about her clothes, hair or make-up; she worried about her grades. Is that because she wanted to learn or found learning easier without boys around? Round and round we go.
Since there seems to be a major difference in the way girls and boys behave and learn it seems perfectly logical to school them in separate settings, with different methods. What teacher can do it all? There will be plenty of opportunities for coed socializing.........I'm want my kids to love learning.
Kathy,

I like that you're calling Peg to task on factoring out students' desire to learn. It seems the harder we try to get kids on board, the more they resist. There is a psychological aspect to turning your nose up to something that is offered too freely and having strong desires for something that is difficult to obtain. The retail world seems to have this down every year at Christmas. I remember when Oprah Winfrey built her school in Africa instead of the United States and was criticized. She said that after visiting several American schools, she didn't see the will to learn.

I think that having single sex schools as an option is a good thing for parents, but personally I value the friendships that my daughters have with the boys in their class. Most of their best buddies are girls, but they will have good memories of their boy friendships as part of their knowledge base when they negotiate relationships with adolescents and men.
Having attended a mostly-female college, I too can attest to the disadvantages -- and advantages -- of single-sex schooling. After a frequently dramatic co-ed high school experience, four years of women-only classrooms did seem like a respite from social concerns! However, I often felt that NOT having men in classes detracted from being able to form friendships with men in a normal environment. But I have rarely felt shy about speaking up or asking questions in class, regardless of who the other students are.

I think the reason why this chapter does not offer definitive answers is because there really aren't any. Are there any ideal learning situations to fit everyone? Of course not! I like Diane's suggestion that there be some single-sex classes and other co-ed ones. I don't know how this could happen logistically, but it is a fun intellectual exercise to speculate about it!
I found this chapter like many of the others to raise good questions- -but give few answers. It seems that most of the studies on Single-Sex Schooling are inconclusive. I know that my own daughter went to a coed public high school in which her graduating class was very female dominated. Most of the top ten students were female and all of my daughter's friends went on to college and now have started professional careers or are in Grad school, (one is studying to be a neurosurgeon.) After reading this book, I wonder if the males in this class did feel the female domination. I don't have a definite opinion as I can see both pros and cons of single-sex schooling. I kind of like the idea of a coed school with core subjects being taught in single-sex clasrooms, that way you have the best of both worlds and still have opportunites for boy-girl socialization.
What stood out to me the most in this chapter is again the need to recognize that boys do learn differently and to make sure that in your classroom you are offering those opportunites for more movement, more tolerance for noise, more physical activities, technology infusion, creative ways to find the solution --but that is really the way that we teach all students now !--so maybe it does come back to "good teaching for boys turned out to look a lot like good teaching"
in general. Diane ennis

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