The Ups and Downs of Separation
The common coed classroom generally consists of an equal number of males and females. This has been true for as long as coed schooling has existed. The idea of trading in this norm for exclusively single sex classrooms is interesting to say the least. It is interesting because of the hidden elements associated with the issue. Exclusively separating classrooms by sex is an issue that must be approached carefully because while it may advance academic performance for some, it could as easily be detrimental to the academic performance of others.
Susan Estrich, an author and member of the Harvard Law Review, has written many works including an essay entitled "Separate is Better", which is a collection of her views on why classrooms should be separated by gender. She asserts that in a coed environment women do not perform as well academically as in a single sex environment.
Estrich believes that in dual-sex classrooms women are overlooked because "boys get the bulk of the teachers' time" (388). Another reason she believes that women do not perform as well in dual-sex schools is because they are forced into gender roles; she believes that boys are able to take on more academic extra curricular activities while girls are forced into more physical activities such as twirling a baton or cheerleading. Estrich also states that in a coed environment women can feel intimidated, or have lower self confidence,
causing them to be less likely to ask or answer questions aloud in class. Estrich clearly states in her essay, Separate is Better, that she believes separating classrooms by sex would lead to better performance throughout the education process by eliminating many of the problems she sees within the dual-sex education system (388-9).
One of the primary...