Separate or not?

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There are times when we have to fly in the face of convention for the success of our children.

The following article was posted by Hey Lady at both Backwash and in her blog at Wordpress. It is used with her full permissions. Many social events affect our lives and those of our daughters and sons. Sometimes an idea that seems completely contrary to feminist thought really does have some valid ideas once you take a look at it.

For the past few weeks the educational buzz has been the separation of boys and girls for certain or all classes. Yes, it does work. I have done it. And the boys who failed the reading and writing portion of our state competency exams all passed them. And that was almost 20 years ago. (How time flies when we are having fun.)

Yet this brings to mind the fads and fashions in education. Haven't boys and girls been separated for educational purposes for centuries? Well, I know there were other reasons they were separated, but the end result was boys were taught in one classroom and girls in another. However, political correctness and a backlash against parochial education dictated that all students be taught in the same classroom. This PC attitude extended to gender, gifted and talented students, emotionally handicapped, physically handicapped, and regular, run-of-the-mill students. All students were gathered together in one classroom in the name of equality.

I have students who are my kids and those of my friends who fall on both ends of the spectrum. My friends' daughter is multi-handicapped with the major diagnosis being cerebral palsy. She cannot see enough to read and sees too much to learn braille. All of her education had to be oral. Yes, we reverted to the educational style of the Greeks. Putting her into a classroom with “normal” students was a disservice to both her and the other children. Her oral learning disturbed many of the students and thus disturbed their learning process. And my friends' daughter did learn at a slower rate than all the others in her grade. If the rate of learning was geared to her, everyone's learning slowed down.

On the other end of the spectrum, several of my foster kids were exceptionally bright. Bright enough that they really didn't relate to the other students. They were in regular English and math classes with their age group. And they were monumentally bored. They grasped all the concepts. The completed all the work at warp speed, and had nothing else to do...except get in trouble. The other students in class were not to blame. They struggled with the concepts of race relations in To Kill a Mockingbird, a few of which could never get beyond the obvious let alone the deeper connotations of the novel. Our regular students barely managed to struggle through Algebra II while my foster kids were chomping at the bit to tackle Calculus.

As for my boys in the remedial competency class? Once the few girls were transferred out, they quit posing and posturing and got down to work. Had the girls remained in the room, I have no doubt that at least two of the boys would never have received a high school diploma. Yes, boys and girls do learn differently. They react differently in the classroom. And there are absolutely appropriate places for them to join together and enjoy these differences.

As for someone who fought for gender equality I am willing to be politically incorrect in firmly stating my belief that based on the reasons above, students should be separated in classrooms to facilitate their learning. Is it time for the “fad” for separation of students to return? I think so.


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