February 03, 2003
To segregate by gender or not to segregate by gender

Okay, busy day today, so here's another of those BEdBlog quota fulfillers.

My friend Antoine Clarke offered this suggestion earlier this evening about what I could put here, and here it is, as best I could make it out.

Parents! You don't want any of this freedom-for-children we-only-want-them-to-be-happy nonsense, do you? No. Course not. You want the little swine to become barristers and brain surgeons and Nobel Prize winning physicists, and to blast your DNA to all corners of the earth inside long lasting and well funded dynasties. Right? Right. Ah, but how to accomplish this?

Part of the answer is to be found in managing the gender mixes. Younger children do best at mixed gender schools, so when they're young that's what you send them to. So far so easy.

But older boys, boys in the grip of the puberty hormone storm, they do best in mixed gender schools, where the urge to show off to the girls causes them to excel at worldly achievement and to bash ahead with their exams and their CV adorning extra-curricular activities the way they never would if they had only each other to show off to. (Boys impress each other by becoming criminals,) So you send your boys to mixed gender schools.

Girls on the other hand, do better at girls-only schools. Girls in the grip of the puberty hormone storm, if at mixed gender schools, neglect their school work and instead concentrate on showing off to the boys with make-up and figure enhancing outfits.

So, you need mixed schools for your boys, and single gender schools for your girls.

One of the more interesting questions you can ask about any social science finding is: what if everyone knew it? What would happen then? If all parents acted on this finding, or rather if all parents tried to, there'd be mayhem.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 11:28 PM
Category: Parents and children