The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has a nice article today about the growing popularity of separating boys and girls into different classes to teach them with an eye toward inherent gender differences. You can read it, too: “Dividing boys, girls grows exponentially” — Currently, it is the cover story on the STLtoday.com website and includes a gallery of photos showing scenes from the boys’ and girls’ separate classrooms.
Given that we have four boys and zero girls here at the Smith Academy for Boys, we are, of necessity, gender-differentiated. While it is an old idea, it is exciting to see that more schools like Carmen Trails Elementary are giving it a shot. The fact is that boys and girls are different. When God said that he made them “male and female” it is because he really did make them differently. Boys are boys and girls are girls, and trying to cram them into the exact same educational setting seems an absolutely ludicrous idea if you really hope to give them the best.
Having been on both sides of the public education scene, I know how difficult it can be to provide truly individual education to students. Really, it’s impossible when one considers the inherent “assembly line” nature of the school systems. As valient, talented, and dedicated as a teacher may be — and I have known many who are valient, talented, and dedicated — given a mob of kiddos one can only “individualize” so much. (One of the many reasons the Smith family homeschools, by the way.) Yet, in the differences that naturally show up between boys and girls, it would seem to me that there is a huge difference that can be taken advantage of — that is, by at least recognizing the difference between how boys and girls tend to learn and think, once can get an enormous bang for the buck. I would suspect, actually, that more potential benefit can come from recognizing this easy to make distinction and actually acting on it than most other steps toward individualizing education an institution might take.
The fruit of these schools’ labors is still being examined, but I anticipate good things. The idea that there are no real, significant differences between the brains (and minds) of boys and girls — and men and women — is a ship that fills its sails with the most ignorant of winds and that falters against the rocks of both common sense and scientific study. If it is headed toward the dust bin of history, may its journey be a swift and permanent one.