Wednesday, March 22, 2006

No Gender Stereotyping Here

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has an article today about how single-sex classrooms are starting to catch on around Wisconsin. The state legislature recently passed a bill allowing for the creation of single-sex programs in Wisconsin public schools, and some districts are poised to take full advantage should Doyle decide to sign it.

I think there are good points on both sides of the single-sex classroom debate, but overall I would say I lean against the initiation of single-sex classrooms and programs.

Although after being a teacher I can see how separating male students and female students could be useful in some instances in the classroom, I think it's more important that students learn to work and thrive in situations where they may not be 100% comfortable.

After all, if white parents claimed their kids do better in racially exclusive situations--or even if some studies demonstrated this--I can't imagine people would be considering segregating classrooms based upon race. Instead, the claim would be made that it's important people work together through their differences in an attempt to make the classroom as reflective as possible of the diverse world outside of the school.

Many single-sex classroom opponents also argue that dividing male students and female students would lead to stereotypes about the two sexes being written into the curriculum for each.

And it was on this note that the JS article really caught my attention.

After claiming how proponents of single-sex classrooms flatly reject the notion that separating male and female students would lead to stereotypes in the curriculum, the article writes this about a comment made by Arrowhead South Campus Principal Gregg Wieczorek, one of the districts on the verge of initiating same-sex classrooms if the bill becomes law:

"Wieczorek said the curriculum and teacher will be the same for both sections, but the teaching approach might differ. Hypothetically, the girls might read 'Romeo and Juliet' in English, while the boys might read 'Julius Caesar,' he said."

Apparently the choice of reading lists is an aspect of teacher approach, not curriculum.

The JS article doesn't get into any more on the comment, but I can only imagine that single-sex classroom proponents would not exactly embrace that line in defense of their claims that stereotypes couldn't possibly work their way into the curriculum. In fact, I would say it kinda shoots their defense out of the water.

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