The mixed sex classroom has been doing a disservice to both boys and girls.
While I advocate for the mixing of races, sexual orientations and social economic statuses, I do not advocate for the mixing of sexes in the classroom.
We understand now that there is a real difference in which we operate, both mentally and physically. We should educate each sex separately, so we may target our education to fit their separate needs.
A study published in the Educational Leadership magazine November 2004 by Michael Gurian and Kathy Stevens breaks the argument down to six basic categories: frontal lobe, visual/spatial, p cells and m cells, neural rest states, natural aggression and cross-brain functions.
When they discuss the frontal lobe, they reveal how male brains are slower to develop, leading to boys in the classroom not being able to sit still for a lesson, getting into trouble or being labeled with an emotional behavior disorder such as ADHD.
While boys are spatial learners, girls are more verbal and often are more emotional. When boys’ and girls’ brains enter neural rest states, they behave differently. Boys’ brains often need to take breaks, they need physical action for stimuli. Meanwhile, girls’ brains do not need to take breaks, they are active even when not engaged in learning.
Natural aggression is an area in which the two brains differ.
Girls are not as competitive as boys; they are seeking to please those around them. Boys, however, are more interested in competition, to fill the need left by less oxytocin in the brain. They are less interested in bonding. These are real differences between the sexes that affect how they learn and the classroom management of teachers.
The ideal all-boy classroom would be an active place. The boys’ classroom would have to be fast paced in order to keep their attention, because of their less developed frontal lobe. Lessons would be limited to 20 minutes, with a physical activity between lessons.
There would be lessons taught about how boys can access their emotional side. Communication with each other would be a core lesson taught every day, such as how to use your words instead of fists.
The layout of the classroom would be different also. Ideally, there would be exercise balls instead of chairs at their desks to allow them to rock during lessons. The classroom would have a limited number of distractions. For example, the teacher would only place a limited number of posters on the walls.
A feeling of comfort would be conveyed in the girls’ classroom. They would be instructed at desks, with chairs if they wished. Lessons would be taught at greater length with a strong gravitation toward science and mathematics. Lessons would be taught verbally, playing towards girls’ strength of being able to sit and pay attention longer. The teacher would take on a nurturing role, playing into the strength of girls’ desire to please.
The education of boys and girls has to place them first; it has to be student centered. A mixed classroom is not capable of meeting the needs of the different sexes; they can only be met when we separate them for learning.
BY ANDREW THOMASON