The purpose of our blog is to discuss topical issues, stories, and situations, as well as to share what we are up to and new ways for you to get involved. We are always searching for possible answers to the question: Why is a girl's worth culturally and historically relative?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

No more co-ed classes

Seventh grade students study math in their all-male classroom at Arlington Community High School on the first day of school in Indianapolis, IN, on Monday, August 8, 2011.  Olivia Corya / The Star

When school resumed at Arlington Community High School in Indianapolis, Indiana on Monday, students had a very different experience from the year before.  Instead of the usual co-ed experience in the classrooms, the 7-12 grade students of Arlington instead found their classes were single gender.  Girls began their school day earlier--and ended earlier--than boys, and were segregated even at breaks and during lunch.  All this as part of a major push to see academic improvement at Arlington, which is one of six schools in the Indianapolis Public School district slated for potential state-takeover if test scores don't improve.

As might be expected, the decision to make the majority of classes at Arlington single-gender isn't the most popular among students.  Many parents and guardians think the idea is worth a shot, however.  Teachers also noticed a difference, with one noting that her students (all girls) were more focuses during their classes.  And not all classes are single-gender; art, music, and advanced classes remain mixed, as do extracurricular and non-academic activities that were previously mixed.

Though a few students think that it might be for the best--some admitted that they found members of the opposite sex distracting in class--other think that it will only serve to create more problems.  Some claim that boys (and girls) will spend more time trying to sneak off and see others, while other state that allowing girls to be around boys is beneficial, as the distraction of the girls prevents boys from fighting with one another (time will tell for that argument).

Leonard Sax, who is a major proponent of single-gender teaching, insists that teacher training is the key to success--simply separating the kids isn't enough.  Arlington teachers have received statistics about the success of single-gender teaching, but have yet to be trained in how to best reach their students, and what strategies are most effective for boys and what strategies work best for girls.  That will come down the road, hopefully sooner rather than later.  In the meantime, it's challenge enough to impose this new structure on the students of Arlington.

To read the full story please visit At Arlington, coed classes are a thing of the past.

-Katie Weidmann
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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