I write about lawsuits for a living. It sounds boring. But it’s not. Especially when I get cases like this one:
A Wood County mother of triplet girls is suing the school system for implementing single-gender classrooms at Van Devender Middle School.
It’s an idea that’s been around for a while. I remember writing about it 10 years ago when I was the education reporter at the Daily Mail.
And now, as a mother, I kinda see the benefits. Keep Julia away from boys so she can concentrate on math and science! This is something I can get behind.
But when I read a little further into the complaint, I started shaking my head. Not so fast, I said.
Here are the basics.
The Wood County school board allowed Van Devender to adopt same-sex classrooms, using a program designed by Leonard Sax of the National Association for Single-Sex Public Education. You can Google it, but basically it operates on a theory that boys’ and girls’ brains develop so differently that they are best taught using teaching methods that are tailored to those differences.
Included in the training for the teachers is this quote: “You want to encourage the girls, build them up, while you give the boys a reality check; make them realize they’re not as brilliant as they think they are and challenge them to do better.”
Girl-friendly classrooms should be safe, welcoming places with sofas and pillows. No hard plastic chairs. Lights should be dim. The room should be warm. And girls should be allowed to address their teachers by their first names.
In the boys’ classroom, the temperature should be set at 69 degrees. The lights should be brighter and the room arranged with desks.
The teachers would speak loudly and in short sentences to the boys. “Put down your papers. Open your books. Let’s get to work!”
Girls should be spoken to softly using first names with more terms of endearment and fewer direct commands, such as “Lisa, sweetie, it’s time to open your book.”
My personal favorite is advocating role-playing activities for girls. The example given, I kid you not, is to act out “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.” Boys, on the other hand, should be given “objective and fact-oriented assignments.”
The plaintiff in the lawsuit claims her daughters are being discriminated against (and also that the dim lighting has harmed their eyesight).
What say you?
(Legal side bar: The information presented here is from the complaint filed by the plaintiff in the lawsuit. The Wood County school board has not yet responded to the lawsuit to present their side. However, the information in the complaint was taken from training materials used by the school system.)