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Author Topic: Sexed Ed
Rizzo
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There's an article in this week's New York Times magazine about the popularity of single-sex education (girls schools and boys schools). Also check out http://www.singlesexschools.org/ for more info.

Is this a good idea? Do you feel more comfortable in women-only or men-only spaces? Do girls and boys learn in profoundly different ways?

Or are these just assumptions based on gender stereotypes? Could going to a single sex school inhibit your ability to understand the opposite sex?


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melimelo
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When i was in secondary 2 (13 years old), due to problems the school had had in making schedules, i had a girl-only class in math, gym, home economics and morale.

What did it change? not much, really... in morale, all the other groups got to do a debate about genders, but we never could because there were no boys. and in home economics, the teacher let us sew boxers a more simple way because we were short in time (she had judged we didn't need the "hole" for letting the penis out for peeing).

also, the group average was higher, but this was more a coincidence than anything else because individually, our marks in girl-only classes were not any higher than those in which there were boys too.


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marty
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Personally, all my classes are and have been mixed sex. The only single sex classes we've ever had were sex education classes when I was about 9 or 10, which was fair enough.

In my opinion, although there isnt much academically to be lost (Or at least I wouldnt think) from having single sex classes, in terms of school providing non-academically based education, single sex classes just dont have the social interaction, etc, of a mixed sex class.

I personally think that mixed sex classes should be required, afterall, any gender discrimination in adult life can be considered a criminal offence, especially in the workplace. Children should be put in mixed environments from a very young age, if only to prepare them for adult life. As a boy, if I was to go through my whole education in single sex establishments it could possibly have a big effect on me if I was put into a mixed sex workplace for the first time (And how many single sex workplaces can you name? Probably none, because in most cases it would be considered discrimination).

That was a bit disjointed, but I think the vauge idea comes across

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[This message has been edited by marty (edited 09-22-2002).]


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Pumpkin_Pie
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My school is ingle sex, and to be honest I am much happier in that environment. I look at my male friends my age, and I could not imagine being as outspoken or comfortable in class with them. Boys generally do learn differently to girls, they can be very cruel about girls developing bpdoes, and sex ed and education about women's issues would be absolutely impossible in a lot of cases. I can't really see any advantages of mixed schooling.
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kena
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I am all in favor of mixed-gender schools. I agree that girls might not feel comfortable expressing their opinions and ideas when there are boys around, but it's a skill they have to develop.

Otherwise, what is going to happen once they enter college? (I know there are women colleges in the US, but they often offer limited options. For instance, very few of them offer engineering and computer science majors. In fact, a search on the Peterson website showed that there isn't a single women college offering an full engineering degree. )

What is going to happen once they enter the workforce? Will they be afraid of expressing their opinion all their lifes because they never built the necessary confidence in school?

I now study in a major where girls are underrepresented, and I am very glad I went to mixed-gender schools and learned to work with men without thinking of them as sexual being (as in "gendered beings") only.

[This message has been edited by kena (edited 09-22-2002).]


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smartwomyn
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Ok, being a woman at a women's college, I need to first stand up for us - this school is on of the Seven Sisters, and is in no way a limit on my options! Our math and physics depts are amazing - with more math majors than the avg numbers in most coed schools (men and women added!).
Study after study has shown that a single-sex educational environment has many advantages on female academic and social performance, but that co-ed environments are best for boys. So there is no way to help both sexes.
From my perspective, this single-sex environment has been far better for me than anything a co-ed school could provide. No, it isn't like the real world - but trust me, no college is like the real world.
Here, I have become so much more comfortable expressing myself and speaking up in any situation. I have really learned to appreciate my wonderful friendships with women. I am proud of who I have become, and I believe that so much of who I am is a product of a women's college.

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Beppie
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I think we should be socialising kids to believe that gender is less of a barrier, not making it into an even bigger one. The writer of the article made a good point when she says that the success of non co-ed schools is often due to the fact that they are private, or have very enthusiastic teachers wanting to make an experiment succeed. I'd like to see how well a single sex public school in a fairly poor area, with teachers ranging from good to bad would perform compared to a co-ed school in similar social circumstances.

Sure, I received a lot of hurtful crap from the boys in my high school, but I also received a lot of the same from the girls- in fact, I think girls are often far more hurtful than boys, although they are more subtle about it. I honestly don't think that a single sex environment would have improved my education. I never actually had a problem speaking up in class. From what I can recall, girls were more likely to speak up in my classes than the boys were, and this is in a place where a lot of attitudes were fairly misogynistic. Perhaps it is the case that students of any gender are more likely to speak up when not in a co-ed situation, but again, one has to consider socio-economic factors, not simply gender.


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Pumpkin_Pie
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quote:
Originally posted by Beppie:
The writer of the article made a good point when she says that the success of non co-ed schools is often due to the fact that they are private, or have very enthusiastic teachers wanting to make an experiment succeed. I'd like to see how well a single sex public school in a fairly poor area, with teachers ranging from good to bad would perform compared to a co-ed school in similar social circumstances.



M
My school is a public funded, Catholic single sex school in an area which is described as "disadvantaged". There is a co ed school in the same area and we've out performed them time after time after time in school exams and competitions.


As we all know, being a teenager is jard without having to deal with crap from boys in your class insulting your body. And while I know that we must get used to expressing our opinions in front of members of the opposite sex, boys in the classroom are a major distraction for girls, and vice versa.

As much as I hate my catholic schooling, I am eternally grateful that it resulted in me going to single sex schools.


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Milke
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The only time being in an all-female class seemed like a good thing to me was when it was a very small class, and we all got lots of attention from an excellent teacher (It was a chemistry class that everyone else had dropped out of). Otherwise, most of the female contact I had throughout shcool was negative, and I've generally found myself more comfortable in environments that are predominantly male. I don't think that's necessarly common, but it does go to show that being male or female doesn't dictate what's going to be most suitable for someone. The arguments for all-female classes seem to be that, since girls are more academic, but less confident (are we?), being with boys will hinder the girls' learning. Is that really fair, though? Segregating kids by sex and hoping that's going to fix problems that have other roots seems like a badly thought out plan.

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sapphirecat
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There's a problem with having "boys" and "girls" schools--neither sex nor gender are so neatly dichotomized. It's the "which bathroom does the transgendered person pick" problem, except with schools. While the majority of people may go unaffected, for those who don't, it can be a major dilemma.

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TifaStrife
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I went to a private, rural, all-girls boarding school for two years and the following points I have experienced first hand.

Pros of single-sex classes:
-Interesting and open sex-ed classes.

-Opportunity for rugby

-If there's a line in the women's room, it's pretty safe to assume there's no one in the men's room and sneak in.

Cons:
-Emphasis on "group learning" which I HATE. (It doesn't work for me at all)

-Assumption by administration that all-girls' schools are free of violence, death threats, drug use...

-Villification of the male gender in some classes or groups

-Rules dictated by how a "lady" should act.

-Emphasis on liberal arts more then science and math.

-Crappy chorus (okay, maybe just my school...)

-NASTY classmates. There are no boys there to take their attention away from the picked-on kids (like me...) Girls, when put together and isolated in a group, start to bitch and nitpick and tear into their classmates in the neverending savage hunt females choose to participate in for some reason...)

-EMPHASIS ON BEING THIN AND POLICING OTHERS' EATING HABITS!!!!! (Soooooo many of my classmates tried eighteen different ways to coerce me to lose weight of my then 130 lb frame. I'm at college now and eating in the caf is an ordeal for me because I keep looking over my shoulder to see if anyone's gonna yell at me for the kind of milk I drink.)

-Classes and policies "made for girls" according to what girls are "supposed" to like.

Anyway, I did not belong at a girls school, other people might. I'm saying it isn't necessarily better or worse in general, just for different types of people. It's different, not better.


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Pumpkin_Pie
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I'm not saying boys are less confident and worse learners, I'm saying that girls and boys do learn differently, because we are biologically different and I honestly do believe that we think differently and that co ed teaching cannot possibly benefit either boys or girls.

While there can be a bit of "ladies do this this and this and certainly not that!" in my school, mostly its just good manners. Maybe our schools are different in Ireland, as roughly eight of ten schools in the urban areas are single sex. (And on that note, we have the third best education system in the world- possibly connected?)


And we've never received anti-male teachings, they aren't even vrought into the equation much, cept when some teachers talk about when we get married and I pretend to get sick down the back of the class...

There is no assumption that girl's schools are problem free, trust me on that one, there is no mistake made on that.

Now, there is one downfall of our school but its really only our school that is affected and that is lack of practical subjects such as wood work, tech graphics, metalwork or whatever.. but our Science department is brilliant, and does its best with the measly funding that the government provides to ALL schools!!

As for policing each other's foods, I actually find that we pull together over issues like weight, we help each other out, and console each other when we're down about our weight, something that I can't imagine ahppeing with boys in my class.

I know I personally would hate hate hate it if I was in a mixed school.


And as for nasty classmates, boys can be unbelievably cruel, trust me, I was called fat ass and the wall by boys for years, imagine if I'd shared a class room with them. I would've gone offf the wall completely.


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Gumdrop Girl
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i don't think there's an absolute answer to this question, of course. I mean, the reasons in favor of gender-segregated academics have never applied to me. i am an aggressive learner. I was the one who hogged questions/answer time in my classes. i monopolized discussions and debates. Never once was I intimidated by guys in my math classes. If anything, it may help my classmates to not be stuck in a class with me

but (see discussions on gender and physical differences) in my gym classes, I was glad I didn't have to play with boys. I do believe that women on average have certain limitations as far as physical development goes. I can't bench as much as my boyfriend. i can't run a mile under 8 minutes. and if i try to hip check a guy on a soccer field, i'd most likely be the one to fall over.

in short, i am in favor of gender segregation in the gym, but not in homeroom.

another interesting thing I have read lately as far as gender and education go, is that men routinely score higher on average on standardized entrance exams for university. however, women are becoming a growing majority in American universities and consistantly have higher grades than their male counterparts. What do you think this says about how men process information, vs women, and each group's study habits?

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"Things are only fragile till they break."


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Dzuunmod
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You're right, Gumdrop, that in North America women are outnumbering men in university, however it should also be noted that women are still a vast majority in certain parts of academia: graduate studies and programs like math, science, engineering and computer science.

Edited to say that men are a vast majority in those areas - not women.

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"Isn't it amazing what you can accomplish/when the little sensation gets in your way/no ambition whisperin' over your shoulder/oh, isn't it amazing you can do anything"
-The Tragically Hip, Fireworks

[This message has been edited by Dzuunmod (edited 09-25-2002).]


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Bobolink
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quote:
another interesting thing I have read lately as far as gender and education go, is that men routinely score higher on average on standardized entrance exams for university. however, women are becoming a growing majority in American universities and consistantly have higher grades than their male counterparts. What do you think this says about how men process information, vs women, and each group's study habits?

I think it says that the standardized tests are not a predictor of academic achievement and may need substantial revision if they are to remain relevant.

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We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.

- Albert Einstein


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KittenGoddess
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quote:
Originally posted by Gumdrop Girl:
another interesting thing I have read lately as far as gender and education go, is that men routinely score higher on average on standardized entrance exams for university. however, women are becoming a growing majority in American universities and consistantly have higher grades than their male counterparts. What do you think this says about how men process information, vs women, and each group's study habits?

I'm not really sure that has anything to do with information processing or study habits. It's a psych principle. Typically if minorities are told that they are expected to score worse, then they will. It's pretty well publicized that women have scored lower as a group than men (especially on the math sections), therefore they automatically tend to do worse than they would if they were told at the beginning of the test that women routinely score better than men.

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Dzuunmod
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Would that same idea apply to dearth of men in university, then, KG, or does it not apply to cummulative sort of tallies, of the sort you need to get into post-secondary schools?

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"Isn't it amazing what you can accomplish/when the little sensation gets in your way/no ambition whisperin' over your shoulder/oh, isn't it amazing you can do anything"
-The Tragically Hip, Fireworks


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KittenGoddess
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I'm not sure I entirely understand your question. All I meant to address was the issue of men routinely scoring higher on entrance exams. According to at least three of my psych profs, if a group knows that they're expected to do worse, then they will. That's at least part of why womens test scores are lower. The same principle has been shown to apply when looking at the mathmatics section scores of african-american students. This principle applies more on standardized type (single shot) testing rather than in the actual grades that show up on your transcript after you have taken the course. That's all I was referring to.

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Pumpkin_Pie
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In Ireland girls out perform boys in school and college. In fact, 80% of medical undergraduates are women. And in Britain in both A-levels and G.C.S.E's girls outperformed boys. They're getting really worried about in England.
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Gumdrop Girl
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What format are the GCSE's?

The SAT is multiple choice math and verbal where the math is a lot of Pythagorean theorem and arithmetic (nothing above algebra 2). The verbal is reading comprehension, fill in the blanks and analogies (though I think they're removingthe analogies soon -- too bad 'cause that's my best section).

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"Things are only fragile till they break."


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Pumpkin_Pie
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I'm not sure about the format of the G.C.S.E and the A-levels. I'm sure that one of our English compadre's would be glad to provide thah answers. However, in our leaving cert, we are examined on at least seven different subjects, mine are Irish, English, Maths, French Home Economics, Biology and Chemistry.

On the maths we have two different papers, two and half hours each(at least) and those papers are on arithmetic, calculus algebra, geometry trig co-ordinate geometry, area and volume etc. They are NOT multiple choice. There are no multiple choice in any exam in the Leaving Cert.

In English we have two papers, both two to three hours long, with poetry, prose, essays, comprehension, language stuidies, novels and drama.


All in all, that's about the format of those two subjects, its an extremely trying exam..


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Dzuunmod
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What I'm saying, Kitten, is that there are plenty of stories in the media about how women are leading the pack, in terms of university enrollment. So, does that contribute to the issue? If boys know that fewer of them are getting into university, does that affect them in the same way, over their entire pre-university academic career (leading to them not getting into university), or is this phenomenon only applicable to one-shot deals like tests and exams?

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"Isn't it amazing what you can accomplish/when the little sensation gets in your way/no ambition whisperin' over your shoulder/oh, isn't it amazing you can do anything"
-The Tragically Hip, Fireworks


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KittenGoddess
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Do I think that contributes to the issue of the number of boys being accepted into college? No, not in my opinion. As I said in my previous post, I was making the connection with the entrance exam testing. Women are routinely told they are expected to do worse on standardized test, and specifically on math sections because "they are not as good at math/spatial reasoning tasks". Most of the men I've talked to here on my campus are much more willing to attribute the rise in the number of female college students admitted to either affirmative action/quotas or simply to statistical occurances in general. Once again, this has only been in my experience and my opinion.

[This message has been edited by KittenGoddess (edited 09-25-2002).]


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Gumdrop Girl
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quote:
Most of the men I've talked to here on my campus are much more willing to attribute the rise in the number of female college students admitted to either affirmative action/quotas or simply to statistical occurances in general. Once again, this has only been in my experience and my opinion.

There is no affirmative action here in California (booYAH! ). In fact, I was a member of the University of California's first graduating class without AA. And I can tell you for sure that there are more women in this university than men, and that gender gap is only growing.

But I do see with what KG is saying about lowering one's expectations for performance after repeated discouragement. If anything, that's an idea that transcends gender and can be seen when reading statistics for groups by race.

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Gumdrop Girl
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squish this

[This message has been edited by Gumdrop Girl (edited 09-25-2002).]


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TifaStrife
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I understand what people are saying about how men and women supposedly learn differently, but that may be a result of how we are culturally taught to think and act. (How, I have yet to figure out.)

But I've heard the arguments about certain things that girls are more attracted to in terms of the learning process. We supposedly love small classes where there is an emphasis on group projects and more visual approaches to learning.

However, I do not fit into that category.
*I work best alone, or, if in a group, with a little piece that I can do myself and then bring back to the group.
*I work best in a medium to large classroom, where I can blend in easier and hear more diverse sides of an argument in a debate.
*And I am a terrible visual learner.I am more kinesthetic (learning by hands-on) and auditory (learning by listening). I don't do well with detailed graphs and on-board projectors and diagrams, which were pretty much a staple of all my classes.

As for bad things happening in girls' schools, I think a lot of administrations shouls wise up to the fasct that girls can be just as violent and nasty as boys can. My friend goes to an all-girls' day school in my town. Although our area and many of the girls in her school have drug affiliations and problems, the deans have done little, if nothing, to help prevent or correct the problem, despite the harsh restrictions other schools in the area have been putting into use.
At my old school, I was verbally and physically threatened by my roommate. She said that she and her clique of friends would kill me if I did not move out of their area of the dorms. I went directly to the dean and told her what happened. Her reply: How rude of me is was to go around accusing innocent people just because my feelings were hurt. My roommate was obviously a very nice and reputable young lady and the school would not allow for some sophomore to ruin its reputation so I'd better just get over it. I quote her. "Things like Columbine don't happen here."

I know it's just my experience, but I really believe that for single-sex education to be successful, the people who run them have to drop their pre-conceived notions about what girls need in education, and maybe the same goes for boys, too.

As for one last thing, I know it's just my experience, but I have received far more insults, rumor-mongering, teasing, abuse, and deceit from girls in the past four years than I have from guys in my entire life.


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sapphirecat
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I just realized that looking at "current enrollment" isn't a very good assessment of any hypothesized difference between women and men. All that can tell us is that currently there are more women than men, without looking at how it got that way. Are fewer men accepted or applying, or are more men dropping out once they get there?

Do more women want to go to college because it's still harder for women to make money in society, and having a higher degree can bring in more money?

There could be many more social factors involved. The "biological differences" idea is just one influence. (I'm personally quite skeptical of genitals=destiny.) Just food for thought...

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KandyKorn17
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Most of my life I've gone to public, co-ed schools. When I was younger, for about a 2 year period, I DID attend an all girls school.

Nothing special came out of that. And with all the things I think had a negative impact on my growth and mental development, going to school with boys is not one of them. In fact, I can't imagine how hard it would be for a shy girl like me to even TALK to boys if I had been surrounded by all girls my whole time in school.

Even if there is some evidence that boys "hinder our ability to learn" (which I REALLY can't see), I think there is a more important social issue. Up until we get out of high school, almost all of our social interactions revolve around school. It doesn't even seem fair to cut girls off from a whole gender... even if that's what they think they want.

Some people have said that they went to all girls schools and they really loved it, because they didn't want the extra pressure of having to deal with boys in classes. Already, to me, (and I'm no expert), it seems that there's an obvious problem there. Girls, like me, who have gone to co-ed schools, got over it, and the process didn't traumatize us. I think the people who didn't have to deal with that pressure really missed out on an important growth process.


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CutiePie4eva
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i went to an all girls school from 6th to 8th grade and i hated it!

i think co-ed schools are perfectly fine. and i think that being with guy doesnt supress me or make me less likely to answer questions. in fact i'm more likely to do it because i can prove i'm just as good as they are. i push myself to do things i dont think i would if i was in an all girl school. i joined things that i thought looked interesting, and now i love JUST because i wanted to show the guys that i could do it to. and with an all girl school they seemed to feel we should be prim and proper... i hated that... i love to get down and dirty... fixing things and doing experiments...

the students who dont raise their hands in class or participate are like that because they are naturally shy... they would be like that in a single-sexed school as well. that isnt about being around the opposite sex, that is about confidence... or the care to learn (depending on the situation).

the only problem with some co-ed schools is that the students are just blantantly making out during class or flirting the whole time... and i think the only reason for that is a non-strict teacher.

i was just talking to my friend last night about how in his school they have single sex gym classes... i had no clue, but a lot of schools have that. in my school the gym classes are co-ed. he told me that they had to do it because students would be making out and all over each other if it was not like that. my gym teachers have no problem failing you for that type of behavior... and its kinda sucky not to graduate from high school JUST because of gym. (it's been known to happen...)

anywat... thats pretty much all i can think of saying at the moment.

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hunt for clothes NOT for animals. =)


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kena
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quote:
Originally posted by CutiePie4eva:
i joined things that i thought looked interesting, and now i love JUST because i wanted to show the guys that i could do it to. and with an all girl school they seemed to feel we should be prim and proper... i hated that... i love to get down and dirty... fixing things and doing experiments...

Yeah for girls who like to fix things (I'm an engineer )

I think you have a point there, CutiePie. Unfortunately, there's a minority of women interested in computer science and engineering. The reason for this phenomenon is still debated, but the fact is that in a girl-only school, a girl interested in technology will end up quite lonely. I've never heard of a girl-only high school having a programming club or a robotics club. Similarly, I've never heard of a male-only school offering home economics extracurricular activities.

Someone said earlier that being in a women's college didn't limit her career choices. I have to disagree: I once thought about transfering to a women college but couldn't find one which offered my very common major (Computer engineering).

In fact, there's not a single women college in the whole continent which offers engineering majors. Some of them allow their students to transfer after the third year, but that's all. Unfortunately, these are domains where women are terribly under-represented (In computer engineering, the proportion of women is about 5-10%)


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Zanney
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quote:
Originally posted by Beppie:
I think we should be socialising kids to believe that gender is less of a barrier, not making it into an even bigger one.

Very, very good point. I've been schooled in both co-ed and single sex schools, and have discovered an interesting thing about barriers in schools:

* They will always be there. But in single-sex schools, just by their nature - the barrier IS more gender based.
* Co-ed schools, the gender barrier exists, but to a lesser degree. For many, it pales in comparison to the barriers constructed around wealth, academic prowess, popularity (usually quite a big one).

It's just like suggesting that we segregate schools on the basis of parental wealth. That way poor students aren't distracted by the rich kids expensive toys. Wouldn't that be a huge way to reinforce the rich-poor divide?

Single-sex schools, for their various advantages (which are contestable) do, however unwittingly, reinforce gender as a divisive line. There is enough division within society already. I personally don't believe we need to be brought up, shaped by such a prominent one.

[This message has been edited by Zanney (edited 10-01-2002).]


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Confused boy
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Well said. I feel that there is an aspect to school that is in a way more important than anything else and that is learning to function within a society and to generally socialise and get on with people. Schools should represent a more controlled and guided version of the real world. In Western societies, men are not divided from women and despite residential differences the rich are not (yet) completely detached from the poor. Thus a school that has students of many different cultures and backgrounds offers a greater environment for learning about society and people.

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'An Anarchist is a Liberal with a bomb' Trotsky


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Dzuunmod
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You make some good points sapphire, but unfortunately, current enrollment is all we've got to talk about. If you can dig up some stats about dropout rates, application rates and the like, I'd love to talk about 'em. Until then, talk about any of them would only be speculation.

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"Love is blind, and I don't blame her/'cause lately I ain't been too much to see/I'd ask a girl home, but I'd have to pay her..."
-Old '97s Ray Charles


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