Sugar and Spice: The Benefits of Single Sex Education

Sugar and Spice: The Benefits of Single Sex EducationAre You Smarter than a Fifth Grader is intended as little more than fun; we get to laugh at the Yale graduate who is seemingly outwitted by the ten year old girl who happens to know the precise square mileage of the Louisiana purchase. But on the other hand the show does talk to a growing fear in American society: are our children receiving the education they deserve, and the education they will need, to compete in the new global economy? The show suggests, of course, that we are fine; the kids almost always win. The nightly news, however, and all of the educational journals tell a different story. Every year we are reminded by various studies that, whereas we once led the world in public education, now we lag behind some surprising competitors: not only does Germany beat us, for example, in science achievement for twelfth graders, but so do England, Spain, China, Mexico, Peru, Ukraine, and Cuba (Jost 40). The US also ranks twenty-ninth out of thirty five developed nations for the percentage of students who major in science related fields (Jost 40). Moreover, although the US has lagged behind other competitor nations for some decades in the sciences, it is also becoming evident that the US is performing worse than ever in other, more fundamental literacies. Kenneth Jost notes, for example, that although the US matches its peers at the elementary school level in reading and writing, by sixth grade the US has slipped to ninth place on the list (41); by twelve grade, its position is fourteenth. Such data is, of course, sometimes misleading?in certain zip codes we have easily the best educational system in the developed world, whereas in others we have quite possibly the worst educational system?but it is clear that we are facing an educational crisis here. One way in which we could help resolve some of these problems, however, would be to develop a system of single-sex education in which boys and girls are educated, at various stages of their childhoods, in gender-specific environments. The concept of single sex education is hardly new; in fact, for most of history, societies have tended to educated their children in strictly separated gender environments. And it was no doubt in response to the inequities of this system that America initially led the world in integrating the educational system for both boys and girls. It is possible, however, that the time has now come for us to revisit the arguments in support of single sex education. First, we now have relatively good evidence that the cognitive development of boys and girls occurs at different rates and, ideally, the educational system should reflect those differences. Second, many also believe that co-educational classrooms serve to distract students from the ultimate purpose of education: learning; it is believed that, especially in adolescence, teenagers are too paralyzed by peer pressure and distracted by hormones to concentrate on their work. Third, a single-sex educational system could also tailor subjects so that, although the intellectual content remained the same, the way in which subjects are taught would reflect different gender viewpoints. The physiological arguments for single-sex education are well rehearsed. So, at the most obvious level, it is well known that the ideal temperature in classrooms is different for boys and girls; a female student is said to do better in a warmer classroom then a male (Nesbitt 12). But such minor details are only superficial concerns. More serious, for example, is that kindergartens throughout the country place a high value on, and praise, the development of fine motor skills?the ability, for example, to color inside a drawing, to cut along a line with scissors, and to pen neat lines of letters. Significant evidence is emerging, however, that such fine motor skills develop much later for boys than they do for girls, and that boys, at this early age, are much more kinesthetic in their learning styles than are girls: to put it bluntly, boys tend to prefer to scribble over the lines than to color inside them. At the other end of the educational process, however, it is also believed by some cognitive developmentalists that girls have a greater problem with mental manipulation of three dimensional images, and, as such, our schools need new and fresh approaches to teaching girls the traditional fields of geometry and trigonometry. Both sexes would benefit, consequently, from teaching methods that emerge from our ever-growing understanding of the differences in gender cognition. The second argument for divided classrooms?that adolescent boys and girls are emotionally and sexually distracted by each other?is hardly new. Flannery argues convincingly, however, that the primary problem here is not the old argument of hormonal rage (33) but, instead, the ways in which culture in general teaches boys to compete with boys for the attention of girls, and girls with girls for the attention of boys; in other words, boys and girls are always going to find others attractive, but the problem is not that attraction per se but the associated competition that goes along with it. The result is that boys emulate common stereotypes about what it means to be male in our society, and can appear too cool for school. On the other hand, educators also believe that this phenomenon can also explain why girls perform as well as boys, academically, until the onset of puberty but, at that point, begin to underperform their male counterparts: culturally in our society, women are not supposed to be outspoken and intelligent. One final issue in the gender conundrum is that teachers themselves may even reflect and reinforce gender bias, directing girls towards certain subjects and boys towards others. A final argument for single sex education is that it could help us reconfigure the ways in which certain subjects have been gendered in our culture. For example, many educators argue that boys and girls do well in different subjects because they are conditioned to: boys do well in math and science because they are told that they will do well; women tend to gravitate towards the liberal arts because they are told that in such subjects they excel. But there are also more nuanced examples than this. History, for example, tends to be a subject in which boys do well; in fact, over 87% of all history majors in college are men (Flannery 30). But the reason for this may well be that the types of history that are taught at schools are those in which men figure large. Thus, the history of the Civil War tends to be a history of the battlegrounds and generals rather than, for example, a history of the home front in which women worked to replace the men at the fronts; the focus is history rather than herstory. Conversely, some argue that boys are chased away from English classes because the subject matter tends to privilege sensitivity, a quality gendered female in our society. Single sex classrooms could still teach all of the traditional subjects, consequently, but could tailor those classrooms to reflect the interests of the particular gender of the students in the class. The solution to these issues may not necessarily be to segregate boys and girls completely, but, instead, for certain subjects and with certain age levels, to separate boys and girls into gender specialized classes. In fact, one could also organize this gender separation within a co-educational school, thereby allowing the students to do some classes together and interact socially within the schools. Moreover, if we kept all the boys and girls in the same school, we could also avoid the greatest challenge to single-sex education, the belief that such systems serve to stream boys and girls into different career paths. Thus boys would find themselves in schools with lots of science labs whereas girls find themselves being quietly coerced into a career in elementary education. This version of single sex education would prevent that by ensuring access to all resources, a truly equal but separate education. Obviously, we need more research in this area, and, should we decide to experiment with this approach, we would need longitudinal studies to ensure that our children are being treated equally. But with the intensifying awareness that our schools are failing our children, we do need to do something. Single-sex education will not be the magic bullet, nor, necessarily will it resolve the differences between performance from zip code to zip code. But it is a system that can be implemented quickly, and with relatively little cost. Perhaps then, in a globally competitive world, our students could proudly claim that they are smarter than a German fifth grader. (1530 words)Works Cited [included on this page to conserve paper] Flannery, Mary Ellen. No Girls Allowed. NEA Today 24 (2003): 32-38. Academic Search Complete. Web. 3 Feb. 2010. Jost, Kenneth. Single Sex Education. CQ Researcher 12 July 2002: 35-56. CQ Researcher. Web. 24 Nov. 2008. Nesbitt, Michael. Single-Sex Public Education. Journal of Educational Reform 33 (2007): 12-18. Academic Search Complete. Web. 3 Feb. 2010.ENC 1102?Researched Policy Proposal Paper Dr. Gareth M. EuridgeIn this assignment, you will make a reasoned argument in favor of some type of social policy.? The paper needs to be 1000-1200 words in length; any quoted material and bibliographic information in the Works Cited list must be in addition to this requirement.? Your paper must adhere fully to MLA documentation style; five points may be lost based upon MLA inaccuracies.? The final draft of this paper must be submitted to SafeAssign.? This paper is also a research assignment; you will need to find, read, cite, and document at least two articles that you identify from the Academic Search Complete database.? Students are not allowed to write on the following topics:i) Abortion ii) Marijuana iii) Death Penalty iv) Obesity? Students are prohibited from writing about subjects that served as a basis for extensive class discussion or that were the subject of sample essays.Topic:You are free to write upon a topic of your choice in this paper, although the usual restrictions apply. It is important, nonetheless, that I approve your topic before you become too committed to your argument, and, to this end, Paper 4 Draft 1 will be returned to you with the red, yellow, green light notation; I will also add comments and suggestions.Organizational Strategy:The following is a basic model of the structure of the researched persuasive argument; it is based upon the sample student paper provided for this assignment.1. A clear statement of the problem you are addressing:a. What is your problem? b. Why is it important?2. Some causes/reasons for this problem:a. The specific causes of this problem (although the causes of X are complex, three major factors include . . . )3. Some possible solutions to the problem:a. What are some proposed solutions? b. What are the strengths and weaknesses of these proposed solutions?4. Your Policy Proposal:a. What is your researched policy proposal? b. Why would you policy be effective in addressing this problem.5. A conclusionResearched Policy Proposal Paper?P4D1 When complete there should be at least 200 words in this documentWhat problem do you intend to discuss?What are some of the possible causes of this problem?Some possible solutions to this problem?What is your proposed policy that would address this problem?:

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