Separating the Sexes Is No Preparation for Life

Article excerpt

Byline: -Comment

IT's hardly surprising that boys and girls learn differently. Both are equal but they are not the same. The old adage that girls are sugar and spice and all things nice while boys are slugs and snails and puppy dogs' tails is unfair. But it does hold a grain of truth in that, while the two sexes are both capable of being nice or nasty, they can be as different as chalk and cheese.

In spite of the hazard of making generalisations, experts say that brain scans show different wiring between the genders.

Some believe younger boys, especially, also appear to have shorter attention spans than girls and learn to read more slowly.

Everyone will have their own views on whether this is so. They will also have views on whether they should be taught separately as a result. Single-sex schools are in no doubt that their systems work.

There is no doubt though that some girls have their ambitions crushed when faced with male domination in, say, science and maths subjects or that some boys ditch subjects deemed to be "girly" under peer pressure. This is less likely to happen in a single sex school.

Yet if the findings from one Welsh mixed school - reported in today's Western Mail - reflect the wider community, separating boys and girls in the classroom does not improve boys' performance.

In Pembroke School's experiment, the all-girl classes were deemed better behaved without gaining any noticeable academic advantages. …