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Boisterous Boys And Good Girls

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Until relatively recently in the history of organized education,

females were not allowed into the male realm of the classroom. It is ironic that in the present day, researchers are finding that curriculums are satisfying the needs of girls more so than their sexual counterparts. In fact, the general lopsided performance of students in coeducational schools has raised the question: Would it be more beneficial to teach girls separate from boys? Elizabeth Weil examines each side of this developing debate in her publication "Teaching Boys and Girls Separately," describing the supporting and disproving data found through testing the segregation theories and how the future appears for such programs. The collective argument she presents tends to support the idea of single-sex schools, as the evidence used in favor of segregation is, personally, more convincing. The innate mental and behavioral nuances between boys and girls suggest that the two genders should be split in educational settings and taught using methods customized to the learning patterns of each, resulting in better academic preparation and a more socially stable environment.

Despite introducing statistics and opinions opposing single-sex education, the structure of Weil's article implies that she is in favor of school districts opening their minds to the idea of segregating classrooms. She begins the body of her argument by clearly defining the two main defenses of gender separation: girls and boys are "essentially different," yet they also have "different social experiences and social needs" (Weil 3). The first assertion is supported through deductive reasoning by interviewing Dr. Leonard Sax, a physician who "threw himself into studying neurological differences between males and females" and other scientists well-versed in children's neurology (Weil 5). She gathers logical appeal by outlining Sax's credentials, then presenting his findings with regards to the functional needs of boys and girls. According to his studies, "differences in eyesight, hearing and the nervous system all should influence how [one] instruct[s] boys," whereas one should focus on "the connections girls have (a) with the content, (b) with each other and (c) with the teacher" when addressing the female education (Weil 6). Looking deeper into the child's mind, Weil addresses motor skills and girls' advantage over boys with the ability to answer questions quicker. These seemingly minute characteristic variations can cause educational opportunity to be much more imbalanced than they are given credit for, so they are focused in on and form a majority of Weil's logical appeal. After explaining the differences between males and females and their significance in the classroom, she places the evidence refuting earlier statements at the conclusion to her look at scientific statistics. Since Weil never states outright her own opinion on the matter at hand, the fact that evidence discounting inherent distinctions between girls and boys and its significance in schools is covered after evidence reinforcing it reveals her position to be on Sax's side.

The second defense of single-sex classrooms, the social aspect, is covered secondly and in the same manner as the scientific aspect. The discrimination between races in educational statistics is seen to be the worst achievement gap, far worse than that between boys and girls in general, so Weil directs the discussion towards that issue first. The all- boys Excellence Charter School in Brooklyn is the first critically examined single-sex school in the article to prove that moving boys away from girls helps them dramatically, and Weil points out that the majority is lower- class African American. The leader of the school calls educating these students "the new civil rights movement," and in Brooklyn the school is succeeding in advancing the movement (Weil 9). School administrators of co- ed schools have noticed that the rifts between "rich and poor students and white and black student have not significantly narrowed," meaning it is "[t]ime to try something else" (Weil 9). The Young Women's Leadership School in Harlem, (T.Y.W.L.S.), suggests, just as the Excellence school, that separating sexes may be that something else which is needed. In introducing this all-girls school, Weil begins to move into a more emotional approach and writes the benefits of the school to its students on a more personal note. One of the seventh-graders at the school comments that when she arrived at the school, "she started appreciating that people wouldn't snicker, 'Oh, she thinks she's so smart'..." (Weil 11). Using a common insecurity for teenage girls, being too intelligent, Weil reveals the more poignant benefits of attending a single-sex school. She includes a teacher's comment about how she believes "her students are better students, because they're in a desexualized - or at least less-sexualized - environment" (Weil 13). Harlem is a rough neighborhood, and young women are not entirely safe from the expletives of the street at any given time, but Weil asserts that the girls at T.Y.W.L.S. receive a better moral education at their campus as well as an exceptional academic education because they are away from the crude culture of the inner-city. Adults and parents, the target audience of the article, can appreciate the difference that such an atmosphere would make in a child's schooling and, ultimately, in their life because corrupted morals and lack of security is a major concern in public schools of any kind.

The publication concludes with statistical evidence suggesting single- sex schools are equal to coeducational schools in some respects and surpass them in others. Weil includes a performance analysis conducted by the U.S. Department of Education covering 40 cases of which "41 percent favored single-sex schools, 45 percent found no positive or negative effects for either...6 percent were mixed (meaning they found positive results for one gender but not the other) and 8 percent favored coed schools" (Weil 14-15). Though the single-sex schools did not dominate the percentages, they did fare much better than the coed schools and have measurably lifted poor and minority students. Weil also highlights the point that all-girls schools and all-boys schools are "attractive to teachers and administrators, who are offered a relatively easy and inexpensive way to try to improve some of the intractable problems in public education" (Weil 15). An enthusiastic faculty is key to a successful learning environment, which is exactly what the educational system needs. Weil's presentation of her logical and passionate arguments ends on a positive note that hopes single-sex



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