Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sex Segregated Schools for Children

image Chris Spence, the education director for the Toronto District School Board is advocating for all boys schools.  This is to address the high drop out rate of male children.  He is the author of a report entitled A Vision of hope. 

The following comes courtesy of the CBC:

"The research is pretty clear that for some students, single-sex setting makes a big difference," he said.

Spence said his data shows that boys act out more and get into much more trouble in the school system.

"Boys are suspended far more frequently than girls. The gaps in terms of … achievement indicators is widening in terms of literacy and numeracy," said Spence.

Boys-only classes and a boys-only school would provide a major benefit within the education system, said Spence.

"The results we're getting for our boys right now just are not what they need to be."

When has segregation ever proven to improve the quality of life for anyone?  I further find the simplification of this issue to gender to be highly problematic.  Spence says, "When every bone in their body tells them to move, we tell them to sit."  This is not just the nature of male children, it is in fact descriptive of children across the gender binary.  Schools teach far more that the basic r’s.  They reinforce submission to authority, thereby discouraging free will.  It is the  cookie cutter approach that we take towards education, that leaves so many students feeling disconnected.  Students learn conformity at all costs.

It is also highly reductive to assume that the issue is solely gender.  At what point do we consider class in this debate?  Children that are coming from homes in which parents are working two or more jobs, often suffer from a lack of positive reinforcement.  How many poor children experience a lack of consistency in terms of housing due to poverty?  It is not uncommon for a child to attend several institutions because of their parents inability to pay rent.  Certainly this has an effect on the education that they are receiving.

Schools have also reduced funding to arts and music. The school I attended had two bands, whereas; the one my son attends today has none.  Art and Music are seen as expendable and yet they encourage imagination and critical thought. They can on many occasions, give someone a purpose where none existed.  In fact, music and art can be used in very creative ways to teach other subjects. Not all learning has to occur in a traditional platform.

Addressing a need in education is important but falling back on old ideas that do not work, is not going to make a substantive change.  We claim to be a society of individuals but when it comes to learning, we fail to validate that simple truth.  We barely recognize that some are tactile or auditory learners and therefore the issues that are occurring in a mixed sex environment, are only going to reoccur.  This is not about recognizing that boys are different from girls, but recognizing that we are all unique beings who conceptualize and learn differently.  We further must acknowledge that there are social issues outside of the classroom that effect learning.  There can be no one size fits all solution, when no two individuals are exactly the same.