Segregation Again?

Research is showing that there are gender differences in learning, so maybe it is time for a different approach to segregation in schools. Let's find out...
By Deborah Lambeth

As one educator recently observed, the past decade has been one where schools integrated and became as one entity―without any prejudice towards one race or the other. Now, there is a new thought emerging about the efficacy of having schools split according to another type of segregation―gender.

There are basic developmental reasons why some argue that this would be a positive move in a child's education. Researchers are now saying that yes, boys and girls do learn differently, and schools are not adapting strategies for boys to succeed in school. Girls are succeeding in reading and writing. Boys, on the other hand, in a traditional school setting, are more likely to be disruptive, get in trouble more often, and not stay on task. Consequently, the numbers of boys attending college is decreasing. Everyone is saying that something needs to be done―but what?

Since the issue is one of gender differences and how that affects learning, it is important for teachers to learn how to address the learning differences of girls and boys. One of the emerging centers for teaching gender differences is the Gurian Institute of Colorado, founded in 2002 by Michael Gurian. Mr. Gurian is a family therapist, and has written a book entitled 'The Wonder of Boys'. His research has found that within the cortical areas of the brain, girls use more for words and emotions. Because girls are better auditory learners, they tend to write and use more words. Boys benefit more from active learning―'hands on' learning―as opposed to passive learning. As boys mature, they have more testosterone and less serotonin. As a result of the chemical and biological changes, boys are more impulsive, competitive, and become restless very quickly. Boys will struggle when they have to sit in a classroom and read, write, or do desk work. While they tend to lag in reading and writing, girls are excelling at math and science, and have developed better vocabularies.

According to federal statistics, boys are 2.5 times more likely to be suspended from school, and 3.4 times more likely to be expelled. The CDC reports that almost 10% of boys have learning disabilities, whereas, only 6% of girls fall in that category. Boys are more often likely to be diagnosed with ADHD, 2.5 times more than girls. Because of the difficulties they experience in school, boys are more likely to drop out and not go on to college. Women now make up 57% of college students.

As the data and research comes together to substantiate that there are gender differences in learning, maybe it is time for everyone to take a step back and look at what needs to be changed. This country has an enormous wealth of knowledge and resources. We have an enormous responsibility to give our children the best education they can receive. It may be time to segregate schools―but this time, for differences that will be positive and promote learning equally for each gender.
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