Hello! My name is Ben Levinson, and I am a member of Ms. Woods’ Gender Studies Class. I am also a tenth grader at Gilman School, an all-boys K-12 school in Baltimore, Maryland. I’ve been at this school since I was seven years old. Right off the bat I knew, with the intuition that kids just seem to have, that these other boys in my class would not be my fast friends. Why was I not attending a coed school? Fast forward to our introduction to the Catalyst Conference. I knew immediately that this could be my opportunity to discover on a broader scale why I ended up at Gilman. Being at Gilman has prompted me to be ten-times the activist I would have been otherwise. For that reason and many others, I’m grateful to Gilman. However, that is only my very small part of the story. So, I invite you to join me in my discovery in getting to the root of these educational institutions.
What Are the Academic Reasons for a Single-Gender School?
The most consistent criticism of single-sex education is justification based the faux-science that boys’ and girls’ brains are fundamentally different and therefore require different teaching styles. An abundance of research indicates that this is untrue and extremely harmful, as it reinforces stereotypes about “boy stuff” and “girl stuff”. However, one of the greatest advantages of single-sex education is indicated below. In tenth grade at a Connecticut school, boys and girls performed differently in different subjects. Single-sex education allows boys to excel at writing, for example, without feeling “feminine” because there are no female classmates to make that comparison to. Specifically pertaining to the elementary education of boys, all-boys schools allow teachers to develop close relationships to their students, which allows them to learn relationally.
What Do You Think?
There is, in reality, relatively little to do about single-gender schools. The best thing I can ask you take away from this page is to reflect on your experience at your school, single-gender or not. Think about your own experience at your school and consider whether or not you’ve experienced treatment based on faux-science. If you have, challenge it! Talk to a trusted teacher or administrator and try to equalize your environment. Use the resources cited to empower your argument, and let me know how it goes! On the Padlet below, write observations about gendered stereotypes or discrimination in your school and tell me about your efforts to challenge them!
- Kirner, Marianne, Ph.D, Kim Mearman, and Joseph H. Johnson, Ph.D. Single-Sex Education: The Connecticut Context. Publication. State Education Resource Center, 2013. Web. 26 Mar. 2017.
- Haag, Pamela. Single-Sex Education: What Does The Research Say? Rep. Campaign, IL: ERIC, 2000. ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED444758. ERIC: Educational Resource Information Center. Web. 27 Mar. 2017.
- “Single-Sex Education.” American Civil Liberties Union. American Civil Liberties Union, n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2017.
- “Pros and Cons of Single-Sex Education.” Niche Blog. Niche, 15 Dec. 2016. Web. 29 Mar. 2017.
- Eliot, Lise. “Single-Sex Education and the Brain.”Sex Roles 69.7-8 (2013): 363-81. Springer Science and Business Media. Web. 28 Mar. 2017.
- “Dr. Webster Interview.” Personal interview. 24 Mar. 2017.
- “Dr. Galambos.” Personal interview. 6 Apr. 2017.
- “Ms. Mayo.” Personal interview. 11 Apr. 2017.