Linda, you have nicely articulated many of my concerns about the proposed
single sex revisions to Title IX. I want to particularly focus on your
"Another troubling aspect of the proposed expansion of single-sex programs
the assertion that the learning styles of boys and girls are so different
that they are better served being separated. Who is looking at successful
co-educational schools to identify the strategies they use to address the
learning styles of individual students, rather than assuming that all boy
all girls have the same learning style?"
Now consider the following quote from George Will in the current issue of
"Title IX fanatics start from the dogma - they ignore all that pesky
about different male and female patterns of cognitive abilities, and brain
structure and function - that men and women are identical in abilities and
What I find most interesting (and troubling) is the idea that gender equity
advocates insist on the notion of "no differences" despite the "pesky
evidence" of differences between males and females that are assumed to be
unquestionably established "givens"...presumably research based.
Critics of gender equity have always played "fast and loose" with the
that there are firmly established differences with which we ought not
Such presumptions ground the accusations of gender equity as "social
engineering" and fuel a dogged insistence that certain masculine and
traits (including "learning styles"?) are immutable. They also now appear
provide justification for separate classes and schools at the same time
choose to ignore the solid research on effective teaching in coeducational
settings...or even the pedagogies used in successful single sex settings
are applicable coeducationally.
All that said, as an advocate of Title IX and gender equity efforts, I have
also found it necessary to be more articulate about the issue of gender
differences and the complexity with which they "play out" in school and
learning environments. I have found Eleanor Maccoby's book, "The Two
Growing Up Apart, Coming Together" a wonderful resource in understanding
complexity of gender in the social setting. The perspective on gender
differences in social interaction she provides is helpful in framing an
intentionality regarding gender equity in the coed classroom, particularly
the elementary levels. It also offers a far more sophisticated and
meaningful look at effectively dealing with boys and girls in classrooms
the two dimensional solution to separate boys from girls in order to avoid
distraction and minimize the effects of stereotyping.
It is critical to recognize that we can neither ignore the differences that
boys and girls bring to the school, nor get locked into stereotyped notions
that can drive the expectations for students. The solution, as we know is
not "either/or" or some divisive permutation of a "zero-sum" argument.
I oppose the "smokescreen" of single sex classes or schools and see no
rationale for them, I do believe we need to take a closer look at gender at
the elementary level. As gender equity advocates, for example, we need to
asking deeper questions about why boys are so disproportionately
in special and remedial education, as well as about the reading and writing
gaps. I don't think we can discount the idea that "expectations"
to some of these gender differences in performance. (We certainly haven't
done that when it comes to girls and math/science performance.) However,
these performance concerns about boys are not, as the critics have been
to suggest, the result of a wave of gender equity in support of girls that
has swept over schools nationwide.
An obvious question in this current forum is whether some of these concerns
about boys are Title IX issues? By virtue of some of the rationale for the
single sex revisions, I would be inclined to think they are.
I believe it is also critical to ask if we were not faced with this single
sex proposal, how do we then define gender equity advocacy with respect to
the concerns about boys' performance within the framework of Title IX?
Craig P. Flood, Ed.D.
P.O. Box 2174
Ballston Spa, NY 12020
"Caring schools are safe schools."
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