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Mickle

"One of them made a big deal about the fact that he would never swear in front of a woman..."

omg. :) While I know there's nearly a five year gap between when I got to MHC and when you left, that just cracks me up considering some of the stuff my friends and I would do.

But then, I guess what he really meant is that he wouldn't do it in front of ladies which is one of the big problems of "chilvary" - that it assumes there is class of people that don't deserve to be treated as human. Which is why it was so natural for them to turn around and treat the first female students the way they did.

Not that I disagree with your points on spending time with both men and women, but I have to say that one of the most eye-opening experiences about MHC was how it felt not to have men around as peers, and how being part of a group that was literaly homogenous in one regard made less static differences more significant during that time, and gender difference seem even less stark when I left.

The Happy Feminist

Yes! Maybe I am wrong, and I know it reeks of a double standard, but I have always suspected that single-sex education is very valuable for young women, but not so much for young men.

The Happy Feminist

And yeah. You wouldn't know it from this blog, because I try to keep it clean in the interest of attracting a wide variety of people, but my general thought process is, "#*(!*#)(! *#(!)*()!#*()#*(!)*#!)!" My spoken word, especially at home, isn't much better!

Dale

Thank you for all three parts! I too am in a male-dominated field, and was the first woman hired in my department (this college was founded in the mid-nineteenth century, so that's saying something about the level of resistance). I used to joke that my gender-ambiguous name must have fooled them, but as time passed, and I couldn't help but notice a significantly higher attrition rate for the women (in all departments), it did occur to me in an inchoate, unformulated sort of way that being able to be genuinely socially comfortable with men was an important ingredient of my success in this profession. I acquired this in large part in my entirely male graduate program, which was fairly agonizing at the time but has truly proven to be educational on multiple levels.

will

So Happy is unhip and has a potty mouth?

Or is the potty mouth just a contrived effort to conform so she can be cool like the boys?

Why do you believe single sex ed is good for women but not men?

Mickle

will,

I agree with Happy. It has to to with patriarchal societies setting "male" as the default. Boys and men in all male settings aren't going to get the same experience of flipping from being a part of "the other" to being the "default setting" that girls and women get from all-female environments. That really, was the eye-opening experience, to realize how many stereotypes and assumptions I had never questioned before suddenly became clear and completely unworkable all at once.

Single sex education for girls is more likely to question these steretypes because even if it's a Miss Goddards* just maintaining the modern status quo often requires burying sexist traditions. Not so with single sex education for boys, where the fundamental myths of masculinity are rarely questioned, and even more rarely need to be. Instead, it often makes it harder to question "the other" status of females and femininity by hiding such things altogether.

In short, single sex education for girls and women opens up possibilities because it makes it easier for girls and women to try things that are "masculine" , but boys and men will rarely do the same because society does not value "femininity." Single sex education made it easier for me to become competent with computers**, but it won't make it easier for boys or men to become ballet dancers and elementary teachers. Being single sex does not mean living in a vacuum, even if it feels rather unreal at times.

I think it's possible for single sex environments to be a good experience for boys and men, but I think it's much harder to make it one and it makes it harder for boys and men to see girls and women as peers. I don't think that, right now, in this time and place, it's nearly as good for them as it is for girls and women. Give me another 50-100 years and some progressive teachers, and I'll probably think differently. Personally, I think a co-ed or single sex preschool staffed by feminist men would do a hell of a lot more right now.

*a school for ladies that Emma/Jane Austen describes as being the type of school where girls go to become educated, but not too educated

**I've always been a nerd, but I was never a science geek. Until, that is, I got to college and I was suddenly the expert on math and physics, the one everyone came to when they had science or math questions. There was no spot on campus that had a "no girls allowed" or even "women are only guests here" vibe. I found myself spending friday nights surfing the net in the public computer labs with a good friend and explaining special effects in movies to the entire dorm. It completely changed the way I see myself. It's less likely that boys/men will have a similar experience simply because the citadel isn't going to offer, much less require, classes on ballet or early childhood education.

John

This is the best work of fiction I have read in ages!

Rex

I don't know Happy, I've seen quite a few articles recently that call for a return to classrooms divided between males and females. The results were telling in that each group learned differently and the teachers were able to apply the strategy that allowed the most uptake of information. For girls it was a more "feeling oriented" approach (whatever that means) and for boys it become much more action packed and competitive. While the girls saw a small increase when compared to when the class was co-ed, the boys saw a substantial improvement and the gap between their grades shrank.

I'd say even if same sex education doesn't offer the social benefits that it has for young women, it should still be allowed for young men. Apparently the lack of girls to show off to, coupled with the freedom of the staff to crank up the competitiveness of the class helped in their academic success.

And surely these boys have mothers and sisters, and most teachers would still be female. It'd be far from a vacuum, and teaching boys and young men that women aren't "others" but human as well should be taught at home in a larger lesson about morality.

Mickle

"The results were telling in that each group learned differently and the teachers were able to apply the strategy that allowed the most uptake of information. For girls it was a more "feeling oriented" approach (whatever that means) and for boys it become much more action packed and competitive."

Well, now that depends on if you consider such "learning approaches" (nice dismissal of the feminine "learning approach" btw) to be both inheirent in each gender and the gap between them so great that a better solution wouldn't simply to make sure that every classroom acknowledges that each person has their own learning style. Oh, and if you think that going along with this is ok, as in we should only play to our strengths, not shore up our weaknesses.

Which makes your last sentence really funny to me, because you assume that "surely...most teachers would still be female." Why would most teachers be female if gender differences are so inheirent that we need to separate kids for reasons to do with "learning approaches" (rather than social reasons)? Or if the male students were old enough to want to show off to girls? My teachers were pretty 50-50 by the time I got to high school, and very divided along "traditional" subjects.

"It'd be far from a vacuum, and teaching boys and young men that women aren't "others" but human as well should be taught at home in a larger lesson about morality."

I'm sorry, are you arguing that basic, obvious morality shouldn't be taught in schools? (guess we should cancel all those social studies lessons on "community helpers" then) Or that dealing with parents and siblings is the same as dealing with peers? Please.

Oh, and sources please. I've read such studies as well, and they tend to get mixed results - as most studies on specific education approaches do. It's often very hard to tell if positive results are due to the actual program or the enthusiam and energy of the participants. I'd also like to note that the ones I remember being successful had male teachers for the boys in elementary school. But I can't remember where I read about them so I could be wrong.

As I've said elsewhere the best way to help boys do better in school, especially poor and minority boys - which are the only two groups that are actually doing worse than girls would be to get more men, especially minority men, in elementary classrooms. Boys don't read because they're taught that reading is for girls; minority boys don't read because they are taught that doing so is "acting white." Give them role models, show them they have options, stop teaching them that anything pink is toxic, and stop demanding that little boys "be a man" and let them be kids for crissakes and they'll do just fine.

Rex

Well, now that depends on if you consider such "learning approaches" (nice dismissal of the feminine "learning approach" btw) to be both inheirent in each gender and the gap between them so great that a better solution wouldn't simply to make sure that every classroom acknowledges that each person has their own learning style. Oh, and if you think that going along with this is ok, as in we should only play to our strengths, not shore up our weaknesses.

No where in there did I dismiss the feminine learning approach, one that most adults today (including myself) were taught with. You're simply seeing things you want see that obviously aren't there. And I'm aware that there will be girls with more masculine learning patterns and vice versa, but research shows that at best, only 1/3 of either sex shares traits of the other.

By grouping by gender you'd catch more and be more
effective than on and individual basis, even though the latter is far more effective. That's why there are tutors/private schools for people who would prefer that.

Which makes your last sentence really funny to me, because you assume that "surely...most teachers would still be female." Why would most teachers be female if gender differences are so inheirent that we need to separate kids for reasons to do with "learning approaches" (rather than social reasons)? Or if the male students were old enough to want to show off to girls? My teachers were pretty 50-50 by the time I got to high school, and very divided along "traditional" subjects.

Why? Most teachers from Kindergarten to Junior High happen to be female, and that's far more than the possible 50/50 you may get in high school or college. As I said, they wouldn't be in a vacuum. And why would there be more women than men teaching in elementary schools and junior high? That's a whole other issue entirely that has to do with pay and societal expectations.


I'm sorry, are you arguing that basic, obvious morality shouldn't be taught in schools? (guess we should cancel all those social studies lessons on "community helpers" then) Or that dealing with parents and siblings is the same as dealing with peers? Please.

If you had a kid, why would you trust a public school or any school to correctly teach your child basic morals when they're designed to pump out obedient workers? The kid is your responsibility until they're an adult, why would you want them to take in a malformed or incomplete set of morals as they're maturing? All the schools should do is teach the material they have at hand, while reinforcing whatever morals the parents should be teaching the kids at home.

Oh, and sources please. I've read such studies as well, and they tend to get mixed results - as most studies on specific education approaches do. It's often very hard to tell if positive results are due to the actual program or the enthusiam and energy of the participants. I'd also like to note that the ones I remember being successful had male teachers for the boys in elementary school. But I can't remember where I read about them so I could be wrong.

Fortunately, all you have to do is track down some articles on boys fairing poorly in school and you'll find they link to these articles. For the most part, they were successful but lack of funding prevents many from entering in long term reports on their success.

As I've said elsewhere the best way to help boys do better in school, especially poor and minority boys - which are the only two groups that are actually doing worse than girls would be to get more men, especially minority men, in elementary classrooms.

Err, the best way would be to get them interested in learning and in their futures. Why plan and prepare for one if you don't believe you have one in the first place? Boys, except for math and standardized testing, have always lagged behind girls in scores. They've always trailed in reading skill compared to girls, the data's there. The gap is just ridiculously huge when miniority males are taken into account, though the issue is far larger than that. At the moment there's a culture of anti-intellectualism making the rounds, where it's cool to be dumb. Get rid of this and you'll got people, on the whole, interested in learning.

Boys don't read because they're taught that reading is for girls;

Taught by whom? Clearly not their parents, one of which likely isn't there. Again, it goes back to the "dumb is cool" phenomenon.

minority boys don't read because they are taught that doing so is "acting white."

Actually, I'd be more inclined to say they're don't read because it's for nerds or uncool. Any poor excuse to mask their embarassment of not being able to read at grade level. While I don't know if this is widespread or not, but maybe they simply dislike the ridicule they draw from others when their poor reading skills come to light.


Give them role models, show them they have options, stop teaching them that anything pink is toxic, and stop demanding that little boys "be a man" and let them be kids for crissakes and they'll do just fine.

Where are these role models going to come from? Not from the entertainment industry with it's hypermasculine (Vin Diesel) or eunuchs (Ross). Not from the news with it's perpetual display of rapists, murderers, despots, thugs. Can't have any from the military because of the endless display of abuse.

No one teaches boys that the color pink is toxic, a lot of them simply don't like the color. Heck, my niece doesn't like pink either and neither does her mother. The problem comes when a boy does like the color since a family member will likely discourage it with "boys don't like that color".

Mickle, your issue seems to be with the socilization of children at large, and boys in particular. Have you ever seen a male friend of yours hanging out with his friends and noticed his behavior and how it contrasts with how he acts in one-on-one situations? This would be one example of what you're talking about what little boys become when they're not allowed to show the side they show to mommy and daddy at home to their friends for fear of being labeled a wimp by the guys or geek/unattractive by the girls.

But we're getting really off track here, my apologies to Happy for up and derailing her thread (by accident, surely).

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