Friday, July 25, 2008

Stereotyping for Education's Sake

Posted by Greg Hambrick on Fri, Jul 25, 2008 at 11:49 AM

Earlier this week, principals from two West Ashley middle schools made a presentation on their plans for a limited school-choice plan that allows the schools to focus on different programs (one's business minded, the other is technology and creative arts).

In the process of laying out their programs, Principal Benjamin Bragg of St. Andrews Middle School talked about the benefits of single-sex classrooms. A study on these classes was lauded yesterday by state Superintendent Jim Rex, with a wide majority of student, parents, and teachers were encouraged by the class structure.

But, after hearing Bragg's pitch, I was a little troubled by the generalizations assumed in launching these all-boys and all-girls classrooms. Things like "boys like non-fiction and girls like fiction." Boys respond to a teacher who moves through the classroom, while girls like direct instruction. It all turned my stomach, being one of those students who often stood in the margins beyond what most boys liked. Who am I to argue with success, but this across-the-board instruction style would seem to me to leave some students in the gap.

One thing that I remember from my years in a high school where boys and girls shared the classroom, was that different teachers had different styles. It seems to me that might be a better catch-all. That said, I'm sure educators today could argue that going that route puts other students at a disadvantage. Who knows schools can do to make sure everybody wins?

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