June 5, 2012

"The case against single-sex schooling."

Rebecca Bigler,  a professor of psychology and women’s and gender studies at the University of Texas,  and Lise Eliot, a professor of neuroscience at the Chicago Medical School, push back against what they call the "pseudoscience" of single-sex education:
The sex differences that have been identified are small and statistical... Scientists agree there is much more overlap than difference between boys and girls in their brains and behavior...


[T]he idea that “boys and girls learn differently” is unsupported by scientific evidence. Decades of research have failed to identify reliable differences in the way male and female brains process, store, or retrieve information. For example, the popular idea that “boys are visual learners” and “girls are auditory learners” is simply untrue....

While single-sex schooling does nothing unique to improve academic achievement, gender segregated classrooms are detrimental to children in several ways. First, research in developmental psychology has clearly shown that teachers’ labeling and segregating of social groups increases children’s stereotyping and prejudice...

Second, research on peer relations indicates that children who interact mostly with same-gender peers develop increasingly narrow skill sets and interests. For example, boys who spend more time with other boys become increasingly aggressive; girls who spend more time with other girls become more sex-typed in their play. Developmental research finds better mental health outcomes among children who develop a mix of traditionally masculine and feminine skills and interests — like playing competitive sports and discussing emotions — compared to more one-dimensional peers.

Most importantly, single-sex schooling reduces boys’ and girls’ opportunities to learn from and about each other....
But won't they do that outside of school? What I mean to say is that, at the very least, you have to concede that boys and girls tend to distract each other. As for all that other stuff, I think studies of sex difference are pretty crude and result-oriented, but we ought to care about the way generalizations — even generalizations supported by decently run studies — are used to limit or discriminate against individuals. My instinct — possibly feminine! — is to let different experiments in education take place. Let's judge those particular schools individually, and not stereotype single-sex education as either sexist or a cure-all.

68 comments:

Nathan Alexander said...

I think the sub-text is: without males to exploit and/or punish for being male, how can schoolgirls succeed and/or have self-esteem?

With males educated separately, females would have to succeed strictly on merit, and that simply won't do.

Even worse, having males educated separately, that might actually allow males to learn without being considered abnormal/aberrant. Horrors!

Tom Spaulding said...

If Becky Bigler does not have a son named Burke, I will be so disappointed.

X said...

The sex differences that have been identified are small and statistical...

[T]he idea that “boys and girls learn differently” is unsupported by scientific evidence.

For example, boys who spend more time with other boys become increasingly aggressive; girls who spend more time with other girls become more sex-typed in their play.

Choey said...

Having grown up as the only boy with three sisters I can tell you that there is a huge difference between how boys and girls brains function.
I also went to an all men's college but had no problem learning all I needed to know about the opposite sex (and sometimes more than I wanted to know).

ndspinelli said...

If you can just get normal boys away from the feminist/Women's Studies/Schools of Ed bitches they'll do just fine. If that means all boy schools, so be it. Boys just need to be away from the "have you considered Ritalin for Jason" ineffective, clueless, dimwitted female teachers. Just sayn'.

Matthew Sablan said...

"Developmental research finds better mental health outcomes among children who develop a mix of traditionally masculine and feminine skills and interests — like playing competitive sports and discussing emotions — compared to more one-dimensional peers."

-- Why don't schools teach boys to discuss emotions and let girls play competitive sports?

gerry said...

The people oppose homosexual education? Egad.

Oh, never mind.

Keystone said...

If it were about children actually learning basic skills and knowledge, single sex would be the way to go, especially for boys. If it's about gender ideology, put the boys and girls together.

Forbes said...

Then what explains the huge effort alter--to feminize--the school experience, from the "girl crisis" over a decade ago (more math), reducing competition (eveyone wins no score kept), allowing girls to play on boys sports teams...

traditionalguy said...

Separate but equal is not equal, said a famous Supreme Court case.

The separation of females has always been a quasi religious choice of the Patriarchal Traditions of the parents.

The WWII experience new point of view had pretty well ended that in the USA by the 1980s.

Today's female re-separation push comes primarily from the Lesbian Community. Or we can pretend that is not so if it is more politically correct to be blind.

Rhodamine said...

Studies, statistics, and bs

Who cares?

My daughter attends the same, 200+-year-old girls school that I attended. Having gone to both coed and single-sex schools, I know the differences and I know why single-sex is better for most girls, especially when they are pubescent.

That study is just for people to assuage/rationalize what they are probably seeing in their daughters as middle school hits them full force.

X said...

I'm still trying to picture how a Women's Studies professor pushes back against pseudoscience. By changing careers?

Lyssa said...

I've always been torn on this - I can see a lot of the rationalizations, particularly the distraction issue, but I've always thought that I learned a little bit more like the boys, and I don't much care for groups of females (the idea of working at a female dominated workplace makes me cringe), so I would expect that I would have been miserable in a same sex-education.

chuck said...

Ah, I recall with fondness my fourth grade classroom when some of the girls started to develop and the boys learned how to drop pencils.

rehajm said...

you have to concede that boys and girls tend to distract each other.

Why do you have to concede that? If you do concede that, how is the distraction MORE distracting than distractions from same sex peers?

campy said...

only boy with three sisters [...]
I also went to an all men's college but had no problem learning all I needed to know about the opposite sex

After 3 sisters, what was left for you to learn in college?

Rabel said...

Seems like the Post might have mentioned that the authors of the article, Bigler and Eliot, are the Executive Director and Communications Director of an advocacy group named "American Council for CoEducational Schooling".

Paddy O said...

"Second, research on peer relations indicates that children who interact mostly with same-gender peers develop increasingly narrow skill sets and interests. For example, boys who spend more time with other boys become increasingly aggressive; girls who spend more time with other girls become more sex-typed in their play."

Interesting phrasing, suggesting inherent bias.

They added a pejorative descriptor to the boys while generalizing the girls.

Why not say, "boys and girls who spend more time with their own sex become more sex-typed in their play."

chickelit said...

The statistically significant dominance of women in colleges (57%) is a bit alarming and needs an explanation too, unless of course equality is not the goal.

Earlier studies by the same authors suggest that this unequality is a merit and not a bug of the current system. link.

t-man said...

Lyssa -

Why are you "torn". The point is to allow choice to kids who might not be like you.

がんこもん said...

And the 200-pound elephant in the room is that only girls are allowed to have single-sex schools in the US.

If there is truly no difference, then why do women need single-sex schools? And if there really is a difference and women do gain some advantages from single-sex schooling, then why isn't it OK for boys to share in that advantage? It seems to me that if we acknowledge that the sexes are indeed different and that each has different strengths (and weaknesses) then we can judge the case for single-sex schooling better. But to claim that women should have single-sex schools (remember the screams when Mills College considered admitting men some years back?) while screaming that it is sexual oppression if men have single-sex schools is hypocritical at best.

I don't know if all boys (or girls) would prefer a single-sex environment. Probably not. but for those who do, it should be an option. Just my two cents.

Terry said...

Why use the term "scientific evidence" rather than just "evidence"?

The sex differences that have been identified are small and statistical... Scientists agree there is much more overlap than difference between boys and girls in their brains and behavior...

Isn't it just as true that the genetic difference between humans and chimps is "small and statistical"? And that there is much more overlap than difference between human and chimpanzee brains and behavior?

Michael K said...

I have often wondered what happened to me. All boys high school. That explains it !

Interestingly, I helped my high school girlfriend (different all girls school) with her algebra and she is now president of the women engineers association.

Freeman Hunt said...

I suppose our home school is sex segregated as we only have sons.

A friend visited a kindergarten class at her local public elementary school. The class runs from eight to three. There are two fifteen minute recesses. The students mostly sit at desks and do worksheets. While she was there, one student was sent to the office for repeatedly talking out of turn. (Imagine putting a five year old boy into that environment!)

Unsurprisingly, my friend's child, a girl, will be attending a private school this fall.

がんこもん said...

chickelit said: The statistically significant dominance of women in colleges (57%) is a bit alarming and needs an explanation too, unless of course equality is not the goal.

Precisely - equality is not the goal. I find it interesting - though entirely unsurprising - that the press doesn't care that men are more and more marginalized in the 'higher educational' institutions. If these numbers were reversed, we'd have screaming headlines about a crisis for women and the usual suspects would be howling about sexual oppression.

wv: procku. In favor of Calvin Klein Underwear? Hmmm...

Franklin said...

I suspect that these women have come to understand that single sex schools are probably beneficial to one sex but not to the other. I'll let you guess which is which.

LincolnTf said...

I had 9 years of public school then 4 years of high school in an all-boys high school. I don't know jack about the current conventional wisdom regarding the difference between how boys and girls learn, but it was obvious even as a 13 year old that not having girls to impress made it a hell of a lot easier to concentrate on school. I think it worked the same for the all-girls high schools. Sometimes I'd drop off my gf at her all girl's high school and all the chicks were horrified to see a boy when they hadn't bothered to do their hair or makeup. Probably saved them all a half an hour of "prep time" every day.

Rhodamine said...

"I don't know if all boys (or girls) would prefer a single-sex environment. Probably not. but for those who do, it should be an option. Just my two cents"

Absolutely. Single-sex is NOT necessarily right for all children, and I don't even ascribe to any of the "pseudoscientific" supposed claims by the single sex schools that this studies' authors disavow anyway. Those are very "strawman" to me.

We are fortunately where I live in that there are all-boys options for my son as well (my daughter's school has a "brother school"). And I do think that is also beneficial, however I don't have the personal experience to know for sure.

I do know my children thank me every day for their schools. They absolutely love them.

And they get PLENTY of coed interaction - for example, at home!

Let us all have choices, not just those of us with money to burn (me, apparently!). Lets just see what's best. Children ARE different. Mine are very shy. More outgoing, extroverted children probably don't have such a strong need for single-sex ed.

Rabel said...

"Most importantly, single-sex schooling reduces boys’ and girls’ opportunities to learn from and about each other...."

This is very true. MY seventh and eighth grace classrooms were sex segregated.

On entering the sex-integrated classrooms of the ninth grade, I quickly learned to sit two desks in front of and one row to the left of a particular Becky J.

I still have fond memories.

Tank said...

rehajm said...
you have to concede that boys and girls tend to distract each other.

Why do you have to concede that? If you do concede that, how is the distraction MORE distracting than distractions from same sex peers?


WTF ????

David said...

Let's see.

We need diversity of color to assure an appropriate educational environment for all students, black or white. But we also need to separate males and females because they are "different?"

Can't anyone think straight anymore?

(I went to single sex schools from third grade through the end of college. There was no lack of female distraction nevertheless. I do think coeducation would have been better for me, personally. I demand reparations.)

MadisonMan said...

After 3 sisters, what was left for you to learn in college?

How to talk?

I really dislike this notion that Boys learn one way and girls learn some other way, because it gives a student a crutch to say: Oh, I can't learn that way, and they shut down.

IME The brain is a very nimble organ and it can be trained to do just about anything with sufficient motivation, but if you tell someone upfront that they can't do something one way, you're just setting them up to fail.

carrie said...

So what is inherently wrong with having narrow skill sets and interests and being sex-typed in your play? And as the mother of two boys, I can tell you that teachers treat boys and girls differently in the class room even if there is no difference in the way that they learn. Same sex classrooms protect students from the sex based bias of teachers.

Lyssa said...

Why are you "torn". The point is to allow choice to kids who might not be like you.

Oh, no, I have no problem with allowing choices! I only am torn on what is the "better" way across large populations, and what should public schools adopt, particularly in areas where it might not be practical to have multiple schooling options.

Tarzan said...

Girls *DO* mature in a lot of ways earlier than boys do. Young boys, in general, are still extremely excitable and emotional when girls are already learning to sit quietly and get their work done.

Holding the entire group to the same standard at every step of the game is insanity, but of course it sounds 'fair' so that's the way it's done.

In Massachusetts, for example, single sex schools are ILLEGAL. Tells you pretty much everything you need to know about that state.

Should single sex schooling be compulsory? Of course not, but ruling it out based on some intellectual fairness nonsense is a tragedy. Ruling it out based on the idea that girls and boys are, in fact, exactly the same and that there are no differences of any sort between the two is just insane.

But it sounds nice, and that's all that really matters to some people.

If more boys went to boys schools, fewer by far would end up in jail, the only boys school currently available.

Lyssa said...

FH said: A friend visited a kindergarten class at her local public elementary school.

Do most schools allow someone to just do that - sit in on the classroom even if you don't have a student there?

If so, I've got to get on that before this baby starts school. Never would have occurred to me.

DADvocate said...

For example, boys who spend more time with other boys become increasingly aggressive; girls who spend more time with other girls become more sex-typed in their play.

This isn't an educational outcome, but psycho-social.

I don't see the opposite sex as being that big of a distraction. Sure, we like to look at some of them and fantasize. But, most of the real distractions came from one of my buddies playing pranks on me (putting a tack in my seat, etc.), and other annoyances, not the presence of a young beauty with budding buds.

MadisonMan said...

Do most schools allow someone to just do that - sit in on the classroom even if you don't have a student there?

Yes. We did this with kid #1 way way way back when. Wow that was a lifetime ago.

Peter said...

"For example, boys who spend more time with other boys become increasingly aggressive; girls who spend more time with other girls become more sex-typed in their play.

And,
"The sex differences that have been identified are small and statistical."

1. So, there's no substantive difference between girls and boys.

2. BUT when girls and boys are separated, the girls become more girlish and the boys become more boyish?

Do the authors not see the tension between these two assertions and, if so, why do they make no attempt to explain it away?

I don't think anyone is advocating that co-education be banned. Yet these authors seem to be arguing that single-sex education should never ever even be offered.

Is their case truly strong enough to carry the burden of proof necessary to say, "That choice should never be offered because this is so obviously superior?

rhhardin said...

For example, boys who spend more time with other boys become increasingly aggressive; girls who spend more time with other girls become more sex-typed in their play.

That must be a non-overlap.

Joe said...

Why use the term "scientific evidence" rather than just "evidence"?

Because actual experiments were devised and conducted.

The "men are visual, women are auditory" trope has been disproven by hundreds of studies, but it keeps on chugging. I believe its because it's a convenient way to make excuses.

Watching siblings, peers, my children and how I learn, I've concluded that learning has a large genetic component that is independent of sex.

A second major influence on educational outcomes is parental expectation--not involvement, but expectation. However, it seems this also has a genetic component.

James Pawlak said...

As the very important differences between Apes and Humans is a matter of a very small percentage of genetic makeup, why would not some such differences between boys and girls make a shift in the "Bell Curve" as to academic outcome?

CJinPA said...

There are plenty of fine girls-only schools out there.


They're called "colleges."

Ann Althouse said...

"Why use the term "scientific evidence" rather than just "evidence"?"

Individual experiences and incidents are evidence that we make inferences from. Most of what we know about people uses that kind of evidence, because you can't really experiment with people that much or that well.

In law, we define evidence to mean *anything* that makes a fact in issue more (or less) likely, even by a tiny degree.

John said...

Michael K,

Congrats on your girlfriend being head of the women's engineer's association.

My daughter is a very successful Chemical Engineer and if she told me she was even a member of a women's engineers association, I would be most upset. I think I raised her better than that. If she is not good enough to be head of the Engineers Association, why should she be able to participate in a 2nd rate organization?

What is the point of a womens engineers association? An association for those not quite good enough for the regular association?

BS.

This whole lopsided idea that women can have women's associations for women only but men can't have men's associations for men only stinks.

Ditto whoever it was who beat me to saying that single sex education is for women only. When there is a all boys school, they get sued until they admit women. All girls schools are sacred.

Or scouting. I remember some years ago seeing Gloria Allred on the tube with a client suing to get into a boy Scout troop. She was quite clear that she was against any boys trying to infiltrate Girl Scout troops.

John Henry

traditionalguy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
traditionalguy said...

The males overlapping the females is not a defect, unless the females like to be overlapped by other females.

I demand to hear Camille Paglia's views on this. She believed that there are enough laps to go around for everybody, both male and female. Or there were before the sex selection abortion fad became cool and so many laps were terminated.

Drew said...

But won't they do that outside of school?

But why would we ever let them out of school?

James said...

Single-sex education might be the only way to get boys educated, since most teaches at public schools seem to not give a shit.

Don Jansen said...

The most important thing is that all children be processed identically so they are fungible and can be reliably used meet the needs of the greater good.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I don't know about the "scientific" validity of same sex education or it being more or less helpful for either sex.

HOWEVER, this comment is more valuable if you want good educational outcomes

Forget single-sex grouping. If you really want to improve the schools, end the single-age grouping. The idea that a 5-year-old from a home with semi-literate parents or no books, a 5-year-old who has been read to from birth, and a 5-year-old who has been reading to himself for a year should be in the same reading class is ridiculous.

Seriously. Children should be placed into classes where they are challenged to the appropriate level and are able to learn....even if it means that the ages of the students are different.

My brother graduated from high school at the age of 15. Until he was placed into more challenging courses, he was a discipline problem, disrupting the class and bored out of his mind. If they had drugs for boys in those days, I'm sure he would have been doped to the gills just to make the teacher's class time more peaceful. Thank GOD we didn't have that barbarity then.

My daughter was reading from the age of 3 yrs old and when placed in kindergarten was reading at a 4th grade (at least) level. Fortunately, the teacher in our small school system recognized that and gave her more advanced books to read.

Those students who are not able to handle the course work should also be placed into appropriate level classes, where they won't be so discouraged and can learn at their own pace.


Of course, non of this will happen because it would force the liberals to admit that everyone isn't exactly equal.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

non = none

/sigh

I would have absolutely hated to be in an all girls school. The unending drama and petty cruelty of teenage girls cannot be underestimated.

It doesn't stop either when they become adults. The worst working experiences of my life have been in offices with nothing but a bunch of women.

TMink said...

"My instinct — possibly feminine! — is to let different experiments in education take place."

So you support school choice.

Can I hear a state's rights?

Trey

edutcher said...

Not sure if がんこもん is right about girls' schools since my alma mater (K - senior high) is still all boys, but I wonder if the revelation that sex-selective abortions run in favor of boys (and thus fewer girls for all girls schools) has anything to do with it.

In any case, the "research" and "evidence" quoted is so much nonsense. My class ran the gamut from macho jocks to quiet nerds and everything in between, but I'll bet academic achievement is a little better with all boys simply because of the lack of hissy fits and crying jags.

And no soap opera.

Synova said...

I always thought that an all-girl school would be torture, too.

I wonder, though... would the girls act differently without the boys around? Drama and petty cruelty-wise, I mean.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

For me, the biggest part of the case for single-sex schools is the same as the case for school uniforms: Put post-pubertal kids in a position where they can compete to attract the opposite sex, and they will do it, sometimes to the exclusion of anything else. It seems to be fairly mild until 6th grade or so, but at that point it escalates unbelievably fast.

It would be nice, as well, for boys in the elementary-school grades to have some experience of male teachers, and boys' schools are honestly about the only way they're going to get any.

(Never went to a single-sex school, but my husband taught at one -- a girls' school -- for a decade.)

edutcher said...

Michelle, after 3rd grade, all I had was male teachers, most of them WWII vets to boot.

On occasions, it was quite a trip.

Conserve Liberty said...

Balderdash.

My wife and I both attended single-gender schools for 14 years - pre-Kindergarten through High School. She even attended a single-gender college, so she never, ever had a class with a boy (or young man). My state university went Co-Ed in 1970, my first year there.

We turned out just fine, thank you very much. Our three children did, too.

Erik Robert Nelson said...

Clearly some girls and some boys would benefit from same-sex education and others would not. The problem on both sides is this ridiculous notion that all girls and all boys would react the same.

This is what happens when you treat people only as members of a group and not as autonomous, unique individuals.

It's the source of any number of social policy screw-ups, not the least of which is Bloomberg's soda-banning nuttiness.

LincolnTf said...

"In Massachusetts, for example, single sex schools are ILLEGAL."


My alma mater will be shocked to hear this "fact", since they've been an all-boys school for more than a century and are still going strong. In Massachusetts.

Terry said...

The lead author the of the paper, Diane F. Halpern, is not a scientist, she is a psychologist. Last time I checked pstchology was considered a humanity, not a science.
The WaPo article says:
. . . the idea that “boys and girls learn differently” is unsupported by scientific evidence. Decades of research have failed to identify reliable differences in the way male and female brains process, store, or retrieve information.

Why is the word "reliable" used instead of "significant"? What does "reliable" mean in this context? Have decades of research provided reliable evidence that there is no difference in the way that males and females process, store, or retrieve information?

The sex differences that have been identified are small and statistical — not a seven-fold effect. Scientists agree there is much more overlap than difference between boys and girls in their brains and behavior. That is, boys differ more among each other in academic and social skills than they differ from girls, and vice versa. Placing children into classrooms based on their gender and — and making assumptions about their physiology, brains, interests, and learning ability — will virtually guarantee that teachers’ expectations are biased and their gender-based practices are misguided for most of their students.
Is the last sentence a scientific statement?

A letter in response to the Science paper:

In their Education Forum “The pseudoscience of single-sex schooling” (23 September, p. 1706), D. F. Halpern et al. claim that there is no evidence to support positive effects of single-sex education. They acknowledge that “without blind assessment, randomized assignment to treatment or control experiences, and consideration of selection factors, judging the effectiveness of innovations is impossible,” yet they cite only those studies that support their thesis.

DADvocate said...

If find the entire tenor that genders can be divided into only two clear and distinct groups quite disturbing. Genders run the spectrum from complete and utter flaming homosexuality to strict male-female heterosexuality.

In between we find a nearly infinite combination of genders expressed by individuals. We need to end this mindless, socially defined genderness.

RigelDog said...

What enraging bullshit! Our daughter could have gone to an all-girls high school but really didn't want that, so we sent her to a co-ed parochial high school. Our son wanted to go to an excellent all-boys Catholic high school and he just graduated. His experience was amazing, absorbing, and what happens is that these boys come to feel a closeness and love that they will sometimes even admit out loud. Exactly the opposite of encouraging sexually stereotypical behavior. And they are allowed to fart in class, which was a big plus as far as our son was concerned.

ken in sc said...

In the teacher's qualifying exam, called Praxis when I took it, it contained a question about why schools could not group students into ability groups—called tracking. According to the study guide, the correct answer was that parents would not accept this kind of discrimination.

BTW, same sex school would have been best for me. I was totally distracted from 4th grade on.

Synova said...

Girls and boys don't have to have non-overlapping differences in how they learn, they only need to have statistical differences that mean more of boys do better one way and more of girls do better the other.

And there are some things that we can know very well and easily and with great confidence...

More boys are on drugs for ADHD, and more boys are in special education, particularly for reading.

More boys drop out of school. More are in prison.

Fewer boys attend college than girls.

Fussing about results from selection bias and various possible explanations of *why* all-boy's schools might be better for boys (and possibly girls, for girls) misses the important element of that... does it matter *why* if the results are the same?

If the *why* isn't the proper *why* then we shouldn't do it?

Tarzan said...

My alma mater will be shocked to hear this "fact", since they've been an all-boys school for more than a century and are still going strong. In Massachusetts.

I stand majorly corrected. I got the anecdote from a discussion regarding schools with a Boston politician but clearly something got garbled in translation. I should have looked this up beforehand.

Clearly lots of private boys and girls schools, just no public schools, which is what I think the person I spoke with was referring to. We were discussing busing in Boston and it went on to what sorts of schools could best address the needs of various communities. I raised the point of a boys school being a good resource for at-risk male students and he said something along the lines that the Massachusetts constitution was amended at some time to disallow this. I've searched the MA constitution, but haven't been able to find the specific reference.

My use of the term (in bold no less ; ) of ILLEGAL was...ignorant to say the least!

Happy to see that there are lots of private boys schools at least. I'll have to read up on some of them and see what the experience is. Good, clearly, from your standpoint.

Terry said...

Synova wrote:
Girls and boys don't have to have non-overlapping differences in how they learn, they only need to have statistical differences that mean more of boys do better one way and more of girls do better the other.

Exactly! This isn't really science, it's a policy preference, and the authors of the paper are all advocates of the policy they find scientifically "better" (All authors are founders and uncompensated board members of the nonprofit American Council for CoEducational Schooling (www.coedschools.org)).
The authors claim that "science" shows that title IX should be interpreted to ban public, same-sex schools, when title IX is no more "science" than Bloomberg's ban on Big Gulps is science.
The paper's cites are mostly humanities and education journals, not neuroscience journals.

The paper published in Science is clearly social science. The article in the WaPo, authored by two of the Science paper's authors, makes it seem as though the findings are based on neuroscience.
Maybe because the Science paper is peer reviewed and the WaPo is not?

Tarzan said...

His experience was amazing, absorbing, and what happens is that these boys come to feel a closeness and love that they will sometimes even admit out loud. Exactly the opposite of encouraging sexually stereotypical behavior. And they are allowed to fart in class, which was a big plus as far as our son was concerned.

This is very enlightening, and not surprising. Nothing clamps down a boys willingness to take risks in class than the fear of looking silly in front of the girls. Take girls out of the equation and they don't worry nearly as much.

Boys are also, on average, MUCH (caps again, hope I don't blow this one ; ) more physically active at a young age than girls. Very few boys can sit still and 'absorb' teaching the way girls can in the early years of school. This puts boys at a distinct disadvantage, as their natural physical/emotional inclinations lead them to the principal's office while the girls natural inclinations get them praise and high grades.

We all know that, later in life, the playing field levels a great deal and boys can become extremely successful. A single sex education for boys (who want it) must be a tremendous boon in allowing them to mature and learn in something other than an emotional china shop where every wrong move can lead to disaster or expulsion of one sort or another.