There’s a not so new debate over the benefit of single-sex educational settings and oddly enough, I find myself disagreeing with prominent organizations I usually side with. Full disclosure, I’m a product of a women’s college and I’m better for it. As an eager high school senior, my priority was not a college with academic rigor (though I knew I’d end up somewhere challenging), in fact it was to have a positive social experience with other women. From the time I was in middle school, the mean girls were especially mean and I felt a sense of isolation not having that best girl friend. I don’t know why, but at the time, attending a women’s college seemed to be the answer. In the end, I had an unbelievably fulfilling academic experience and I did in fact develop the most positive friendships with other women that make up for the years of mean girls.
What’s fascinating to me about some of the arguments against single-sex education in the elementary and secondary years are the fact that they are based on gender, not sex (I won’t even get in to that here) and they suggest single sex education perpetuates stereotypes. The fact of the matter is that scientific evidence and experiential data shows girls and boys often learn differently and thrive in different settings. In my mind, this is not a bad thing, it just is, but I find many want to ignore this difference in favor of the ever growing movement to erase difference. Obviously it’s important for girls and boys to socialize and learn to interact – that is another reality – but in a country where our students are performing below practically all of our international peers, it might be smart to consider alternative options and structures. The opportunities for learning are vast, as are the opportunities for socialization so educational experiences don’t have to be exclusively single-sex, but perhaps if it was an option for some classes or components, we might see some interesting trends and changes. In other words, to teach to girls or to boys (aka to the stereotype) may actually better meet the needs of students and create environments where students are not forced to fit molds that inherently may not fit. I’m not suggesting all girls and all boys learn exactly the same way, but I think anything that may strengthen our public school systems is worth a try.
If you’re interested in reading more about this debate, check out Single Sex Classes Popular As More Public Schools Split Up Boys And Girls
Interesting read by Stephen Beal, President, California College of the Arts: What Is the Value of a College Degree?
An excerpt reads:
Interdisciplinary, collaborative, diverse, project-based, and inclusive — these terms describe the learning environment we strive to create. It also describes the evolving and expanding workplace our new graduates will enter. Despite gloomy news stories about the scarcity of jobs, creative people are in demand, and will continue to be. According to a recent study by the National Endowment for the Arts, jobs in the creative sector will increase overall by 11 percent in the next six years, with some careers projected to grow at a much higher rate, especially curators, interior designers, animators, illustrators, architects, and writers.
A must read for anyone who has gone to college, wants to go to college or is paying for someone to go to college: The Cost of College Will Soar if Interest Rates Allowed to Double.
And the follow-up: Congress Votes To Stop Student Loan Interest Rates From Doubling
Yesterday I posted an article about the Stull Act and it got me thinking even more about how we evaluate teachers (something I actually think about often). It’s a topic much larger than this one post, but here are my thoughts…today.
Education, as a social and political issue should be relatively simple. It should receive funding to hire, retain and continually train good teachers because they in turn educate children who go on to be in leadership positions in all fields from science to politics to the military to education etc. Bad teachers should either receive professional development training or let go, as is the case in many other fields.
In theory, it actually makes a whole lot of sense to me for teachers to be evaluated, in part, on how their students do on standardized tests. As much as I’m not a huge supporter of standardized tests (based on my personal experience doing terribly on them from a young age), working in the world of college admissions, I understand the reality for a need to have universal benchmarks. I assume school systems seek something similar. It’s difficult to quantify anything without concrete numbers – so, in college admission, it’s difficult to compare students to each other without a universal benchmark. We do try, but all high school grades are not created equally, some teachers are great writers and write strong recommendations, while others cannot actually write well themselves, thus submitting sub par recommendations. Some students complete their college essays all on their own, whiles others have substantial resources to get support.
But, I am straying from the issue – teacher evaluations. Is it possible to teach for a test while facilitating a holistic educational experience? This fixation with standardized test scores as the goal does seem to defeat the purpose of a true education, which in my mind is a process of skill development, exploration, creativity, success and failure. I don’t believe a standardized test result can capture that. But, if not a standardized test, then what?
Let me be very clear, the issue is not nearly this simple and not ever having been a classroom teacher, my perspective is in essence from the ‘outside’. What are your thoughts? To evaluate based on standardized tests or not?
In the continuing debate over the value of student test scores to teacher evaluations, a California judge takes a firm position. Read Student scores in evaluations Share: Judge rules Stull Act requires them.