Caryl Rivers on The False Promises of Single-Sex Education

Caryl Rivers, The Truth About Girls and Boys

As the dubious assertions regarding differences between girls and boys begins to take hold, there has bee a push for single-sex education. In an article in the Huffington Post from earlier this month, Caryl Rivers coauthor of The Truth About Boys and Girls: Challenging Toxic Stereotypes About Our Children, describes the growth of the single-sex movement and the rise of “self-appointed gurus” spearheading it:

Leonard Sax, head of the National Association for Single Sex Public Education and best-selling author of Why Gender Matters and Michael Gurian (The Wonder of Boys) have been pushing the single-sex agenda. They speak before huge audiences of teachers, parents and school administrators and are the darlings of the media, drawing extensive coverage in which their statements about “science” are generally accepted as fact.

The single-sex movement in public schools has been growing fast. According to the New York Times, there were only two single-sex public schools in the mid-1990s; today, there are more than 500 public schools in 40 states that offer some single-sex academic classes.

The problem as Rivers points out is that the “science” supporters of single-sex education use to back up their claims has been refuted by many scientists and researchers. These findings were published and discusses in a recent issue of Science. Moreover the schools Rivers and her coauthor Rosalind Barnett have visited seem to suggest that single-sex education does not match up to the claims made by its supporters:

We’ve looked at the claims for single-sex schools and find that many are just plain wrong. For example, both Sax and Gurian argue that the brains of boys and girls are so different that they should be parented and educated in very different ways. But research does not support such assumptions. After an exhaustive review of the scientific literature on human brains from childhood to adolescence, neuroscientist Lise Eliot found “surprisingly little evidence of sex differences in children’s brains.” Eliot is an associate professor in the Department of Neuroscience at the Chicago Medical School and one of the authors of the Science article. In her book Pink Brain, Blue Brain, Eliot accuses Sax and Gurian of pushing shoddy science.

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