A hand goes up in the back of the class during Mr. Mitchell’s speech communication lecture. It’s a typical high school classroom…well, maybe with the exception of the black mold growing on the ceiling and now dripping water, which keeps students and teachers alike a hair’s breath away from grave illness.
The teenage boy with his hand now raised is eager to share something with the rest of his classmates, so Mr. Mitchell obliges. “Yes, Cody.”
“Guess what I’m doing tonight, Mr. Mitchell.”
“What would that be, Cody?”
“I’m getting laid.” Snickers follow from the crude response, as Mr. Mitchell does the only thing he can do when faced with such lack of discipline and respect in horrible teaching conditions. “That’s great news, Cody. Do tell…what’s the young man’s name?”
Mr. Mitchell then makes up his mind to retire from teaching because he’s just not suited for the deterioration present in the public school system, and he’s sick of trying when he is getting zero support from his principal, a man who failed to punish a student that earlier in the year had called an African-American cheerleader the N-word at the end of his class period.
A true story, representative of so many problems in our educational system…problems which start at the top and wiggle their way down the ladder till they’ve crushed the spirit of both teachers and students alike. But of particular note is the obscene and unruly behavior of the young man. Teach’ didn’t handle things too well either, but at least he had the decency to know the career wasn’t for him.
Still, he was left with an understanding for the first time in his life of how important it is to consider the pros against the cons of a single-sex classroom environment for the public education system. Would Cody have shot his mouth off if there weren’t fifteen girls in the classroom to impress? Maybe, but the odds seem less likely. Would the other student have called the cheerleader the N-word if they had different classes? Not in the classroom for all the others to hear, he wouldn’t.
With these examples in mind, let’s consider a few pros and cons of keeping the boys with the boys and the girls with the girls.
Pros and Cons
PRO: Hormones hinder the genders. Teenagers go through a lot of sexual changes. Those barriers, while not removed, are quarantined by keeping the two from bouncing off each other…both literally and figuratively.
CON: Cliques and contempt. Girls clique. That’s why there are a popular series of books called The Clique. Boys, on the other hand, if not allowed to adjust to the complexities of their counterparts, could look at them with contempt for their feelings and emotions. It’s hard enough to understand each other as it is. This doesn’t help.
PRO: Sports and competition. Boys and girls segregate naturally to a certain age. They do this because they identify with each other more closely, and there is nothing to attract them to one another. When sexual maturation begins, the attraction begins, as do feelings of inadequacy and failure. Nowhere is this more pronounced than outside the classroom. In a single-sex classroom, boys and girls will be more likely to participate because the risks of failure do not seem as high.
CON: Punishment in the presentation. The concept of the single-sex classroom is often used with disciplinary overtones. Self-esteem problems or issues with authority and disillusionment could arise in high-achieving students if they perceive it as a punishment.
If you have other pros and cons this article did not touch on, then please, by all means, leave comments below. Let the debate begin!