Monday, October 02, 2006

Boys, Girls, and Monkeys

The LA Times has this op-ed up by Caryl Rivers and Rosalind C. Barnett on single sex education.

What they say:

Are single-sex classrooms the magic bullet that will produce academic achievement in public schools? Or are they simply a trendy idea based on bad science and even worse public policy? There's a real worry that the latter could be the case.

Militant advocates of single-sex schools get a lot of ink in the national media but, unfortunately, little skepticism. Leonard Sax, bestselling author and executive director of the National Assn. for Single Sex Public Education, is spearheading the idea of vast gender differences in the brains and learning styles of boys and girls. Other "experts" confidently agree. But peer-reviewed studies and many of the nation's top researchers disagree. The American Assn. of University Women warns that not enough scientific evidence exists to show that single-sex classrooms improve student performance.Our own investigation finds that, too often, the claims made for great gender differences turn out to be highly exaggerated. Here are some examples:
[bla, bla, bla]
I am way too lazy and stupid to tear up the article with a paragraph by paragraph rebuttal of their arguments, except to say I think its all BS. Luckily my lack of credentials allows me to refute all their arguments with the following.

Boy Monkeys play with boy toys and girl monkeys play with girl toys.

OK, that’s not fair, no one can resist cute little monkeys, but who needs monkeys when you have real schools getting real results. Do you think Dent Middle School in Columbia is going to get rid of its “Two Academy” program?

In matched pair analysis TWO 6th grade boys and girls showed a greater growth in scale scores on the 2005 PACT.
I get it, I understand. Women’s groups are worried that once again they will be given the short end of stick when it comes to education. I have four daughters so I can sympathize. Any single sex education program in the country should be optional and benefit both genders. Unfortunately Rivers and Barnett have decided that single sex education is bad… under any circumstances. They conclude the article by saying:

We know that children learn in many different ways, but segregating them by sex will serve most of our children poorly.
No exceptions, no qualifications. They don’t want us to have a choice. Enough said.