Should Boys Be Separate? Adventures in Raising a Boy: Part 1

I am a Feminist (note the capital letter). In my pursuit to ensure equal opportunities for all women, I have earned a degree in Women’s Studies, burned several bras, marched in many rallies, protested against patriarchal institutions and policies and lived for four years with a (pretty closed to) shaved head. That said, I don’t like the idea that my son’s Beaver group (also includes the Cubs and Scouts that meet at the same place) has girls in it. I believe that we need to provide an environment for boys to nurture their personalities without the presence of girls—a place for them to work out their masculinity in positive ways. (I’m confident that this group would not teach my son how to street fight, fire a rifle and prevent women from assuming positions of power. And it’s Beavers—part of the Scouting organization I’ve always admired for raising kind, thoughtful, caring, respectful, tree-planting citizens of the world.)

The teaching of boys is a hot topic right now. This week, Chris Spence, the director of the Toronto District School board revealed his desire for more boys-only classes in Toronto schools. In an attempt to lower dropout rates, Spence would like to see more of a focus on boys’ particular learning styles.

Last year we ran a provocative education story (Find the whole story here. Also see this story about the different ways boys and girls learn) and wondered if segregating students in single-gender schools is the answer to better grades. This is my favourite part of that story, which I often re-quote when speaking on the subject:

“I would challenge you to find me any co-ed school, public or private, in any province, where the leading footballer is also the leading poet or actor.”
Dr. Leonard Sax, a medical doctor, Ivy-league educated psychologist, and executive director of the U.S.-based National Association for Single-Sex Public Education

Tell us what you think: Have you ever separated your boy or girl to account for a different learning style or set of social skills you figure they would learn better in a group of kids their own gender?

–Jen, CF’s editor-in-chief

UPDATE: Live chat happening with Chris Spence and the Globe & Mail about boys-only-education at 5 pm EST. Find it here.

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