moral, emotional, and mental lives of boys. She also recommended another book, which addresses, among other things, the phenomenon of the "anomalous male," one whose interests in traditionally "feminine" pastimes cause him to bond with girls as a young boy; he then goes on to become ostracized once he reaches adolescence and those same girls find his friendship to be an albatross around their status-conscious necks.
For the last two years, I have spent a fair amount of time considering how lucky I am to have boys. As a kid, a sister of two brothers, and a teacher, I often felt that boys were easier somehow. Less drama. Less manipulation. Less emotion. I remember someone once telling me, "Boys play games while girls make rules." And while that, like the rest of this paragraph, is a gross oversimplification, I got it. It made sense to me based on my observation bias of boys being simple and girls being complex.
Well, apparently, I was wrong. Apparently - get this - boys are complex, too!
And, according to some of these books, one of the solutions to helping boys - and girls - embrace and explore their complexity is single-sex education.
As a child, I was not interested in going to an all-girls' school. I liked boys - both as friends and as more-than-friends. I liked having them around - as playmates, as classmates, as teammates. And in general, I start to get antsy when I hear talk of the inherent differences in the way males and females think, act, and feel.
But, the more I thought about it, the more I started to see some potential benefits to single-sex schooling. Research suggests that, when activities and subjects are divorced from their traditional gender associations (e.g. boys are better than girls at math; girls are better than boys at art), students avoid "gender intensification," wherein boys act more like they think boys should act, and girls act more like they think girls should act. Self-esteem also seems to be higher, especially for girls, in single-sex schools, according to this study. From my own anecdotal evidence based on years of teaching teenagers, I think about the school hours lost by some students who see their own social status ebb and flow along with their romantic relationships. If girls who like boys aren't around them for much of the day, might they see their position at school correlate more to their interests and accomplishments rather than to whom they are dating?
Could it be that in our quest to equalize the sexes, we are missing the diversity within each gender? Can separate really ever be equal? Can unequal nevertheless be fair?
Are you the product of a single-sex education? If so, what was your experience like?
Would you consider sending your child to a single-sex school?