Monday, August 28, 2006

Educators' sex affects student performance, new study says.

See the article: Educators' gender affects student performance, new study says.

For all the differences between the sexes, here's one that might stir up debate in the teacher's lounge: Boys learn more from men and girls learn more from women.

That's the upshot of a provocative study by Thomas Dee, an associate professor of economics at Swarthmore College and visiting scholar at Stanford University. His study was to appear today in Education Next, a quarterly journal published by the Hoover Institution.

Vetted and approved by peer reviewers, Dee's research faces a fight for acceptance. But Dee says his research supports his point, that gender matters when it comes to learning. Specifically, as he describes it, having a teacher of the opposite sex hurts a student's academic progress.
A provocative study, yet vetted and approved by experts!
For example, with a female teacher, boys were more likely to be seen as disruptive. Girls were less likely to be considered inattentive or disorderly.

In a class taught by a man, girls were more likely to say the subject was not useful for their future. They were less likely to look forward to the class or to ask questions.
I hate to break the news, but single sex classrooms in secondary schools and college were often the norm until the 1960s, for this very reason. Even entire schools were single sex. But since history is no longer taught, we should be a bit more forgiving of this ignorance.

Catholic schools traditionally segregated older children by sex; fewer disruptions make a better learning environment. And this wasn't due to sexism, in order to keep the women down: a traditional nun in full habit would whap you with a ruler for saying something like that, for Catholic girls' schools traditionally provided intensely good education.

From my personal experience, I know that coed classes, in the summertime, with no dress code for modesty, really made me stupid.

Also note the article's use of the word "gender" instead of "sex". Formerly, the word "sex" meant what you are, not what you do, while gender was a grammatical term used to classify nouns as masculine, feminine, or neuter. Our current confusion about sex and the meaning of language has led to this strange new use of these terms.

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