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Is Separating Boys and Girls Classes the Right Thing To Do?

 It is no secret that boys and girls play different games and think differently to each other from kindergarten, yet both need similar things out of school. However, when boys and girls are put together in one class, the differences between them become very obvious - the boys are interested in one thing, while the girls are interested in another. 


So what can be done to maintain full concentration in class and increase student learning? Is there a way to help our children learn and succeed, or does it depend only on the abilities of each student as an individual? An experiment on the subject in an elementary school in Russia, where gender segregation took place only during lessons, yielded results that surprised us and they’ll probably surprise you too.

boys and girls

A little background on the experiment

In an elementary school in Kamensk-Orlesky City in Russia, an experiment was conducted in 2014, in which classes were divided by gender. The goal was to examine where there is higher achievement - in mixed classrooms or in those that are separated? We want to emphasize that only class time was separated while other school activities such as lunch, recess, trips and outdoor activities were mixed. From the conclusions of the experiment, we can learn about 9 significant differences between the female and male students that astounded the research team...

1. Distractions during class

Psychologists believe that the desire to impress members of the opposite sex begins at a very young age. When both genders learn together, they are subconsciously trying to impress each other, thus leading to them being distracted and disrupting the course of the lesson. However, when students are in separated classrooms, there are no boys or girls to impress, students are more concentrated on the study material and the lesson flows better.

boys and girls

2. Differences in the development of the sexes that create a learning gap

In the opinion of researchers, mental and physical development in boys tends to be later than girls by about two to three years - the left side of the brain, which is responsible, among other things, for speech and language skills, grows slower and creates a gap between the sexes. Due to the more rapid development of female brains and the desire not to hinder them, education systems tend to be geared more towards girls, leaving boys always just slightly behind.

In addition, it is known that boys tend to take more risks than girls, and therefore don’t hesitate to solve problems in different ways that aren't necessarily in accordance with the educational framework. When a male student in a mixed class wants to impress someone, he will hurry to answer a question often making a mistake. This could potentially embarrass and even humiliate him, especially if the rest of the students laugh. The student will then close himself off, hesitate the next time he wants to be "brave" and answer questions, which will make him not think outside the box in general and not take risks in the future.

3. Shyness and the desire to participate in classes

Many pedagogical considerations come before deciding what to teach in class, and one of them is the psychological aspect that deals with the child's psyche. Girls are often known to be shyer than boys, more thorough - especially when it comes to learning, especially at young ages - and it is easier and more important for them to go into detail.

But while they are good at carrying out certain tasks with precision, their shyness when in a class full of boys can sometimes be difficult for them and cause them to hold back out of fear of ridicule, leading to a reduction in class participation. The experiment showed that in the absence of boys in the class, the girls felt they could think freely, were not afraid to raise their hands and participate during the lesson, and even make mistakes, and they also helped each other, all without fear of being laughed at.

boys and girls

4. Competitiveness and different ways of solving problems

Most boys are more daring than girls and love to learn their own lessons. As a rule, they tend to step out of the box when completing assignments and try to find their own ways to reach answers, making each task a new adventure. Male perception is more inclusive, imaginary and emotional. They like problematic issues that make them more involved and active in finding solutions, and the competitiveness in them gives them the push to be the ones who find the solution first.

5. Mutual respect and group tasks

As part of this experiment, both groups were given group tasks in which they had to find a solution acceptable to the entire group. During almost every group assignment it became clear that the girls tended to excel more than the boys and quickly divided the roles, discussed the solution to the problem, and solved it together in a friendly, humble and dignified manner, without interrupting one another even if they knew the right answer. The teachers also noticed that girls needed more words of encouragement, even if they answered incorrectly, or else they would fear answering and working in groups in the future, as opposed to the boys who did not need words of encouragement.

6. Demonstrating leadership skills and expressing personal opinions

While girls are often shy and afraid to be portrayed in a certain way in a mixed class, boys also hesitate and fear expressing their thoughts openly and honestly with girls. The experiment proved that in the absence of girls, boys were not afraid to express their opinions and thoughts even if they were contrary to the popular opinions. Furthermore, when they voiced their opinions, they treated others with respect.

The teachers noticed that the boys in the separate classes were less aggressive and violent during the discussion since they didn’t have to impress or protect anyone. Because in such classrooms all students are equal, students have no need to prove themselves, and therefore are more likely to channel their resources into developing leadership skills. Another interesting fact is that in the mixed classes the boys fought more with one another, while in separate classrooms not only did violence almost completely diminish, the children were more helpful with one another.

boys and girls

7. Respect for teachers

According to the results of the study, in separated classes, the teacher was given more respect from both sexes than in mixed classes, which is probably because none of the children need to impress the opposite sex. Furthermore, it was found that girls have an easier time connecting to their teacher while the boys tended to argue with them less. Finding the right approach may take a little longer for the teacher, but when this barrier is passed the children become much more devoted to their teachers and follow their instructions meticulously.

8. Better health and stability

According to the head of the Department of Pediatrics of the Armor Medical Academy, Ms. Elena Romanova, it turns out that not only do separate classes improve children’s psyche, but also their health. In the boys' class there was a significant improvement in their walking and posture, and in a medical examination conducted by professionals, it became clear that their physical health improved and absences due to illness decreased. It was also noted that in mixed classes, children tend to lose weight during the first 6 months of school, from fear of not fitting in and stress, something which didn’t happen in the separated classes.


9. Higher achievement and grades

It’s not news that boys and girls are often interested in different things, and when a teacher reads a story in class about fairies, for example, girls are obviously going to be more interested than boys this means that teachers need to invest more effort into teaching lessons that will interest both boys and girls to keep them focused on the lesson. When a teacher fails to catch the attention of most of the class, students lose interest and lose focus, leading to disruption of the normal course of the lesson.

When this happens, the teacher is forced to stop the lesson, leading to many lost hours and good students getting the short end of the stick. After the separation, the rate of interruption was reduced to the point of non-existent, and the level of interest in the class increased due to its suitability to the character of the class, leading to a significant increase in grades.

boys and girls

The experiment was successful, although there are few problems

Separating classes by gender has its supporters and its critics. Critics argue that separation will create sexual tension in the future, and is the first step towards sexism and the separation of mental and physical characteristics. There is also a theory that all-male classrooms are a good environment for growing future psychopaths.

In response to some of these arguments, the principal of the school that was tested said that the issue of sexual tension does not have to exist because, beyond separate classes, breaks and all other school activities are mixed so there is no such concern, and regarding the growth of psychopaths in the future, the results of the experiment prove exactly the opposite because they do have healthy daily interaction with girls.

The bottom line

Every learning method has its advantages and disadvantages, and each parent should place their child in a framework that suits the child’s needs and instills the values you as a family hold dear. It is true that according to the results of the experiment, there appear to be advantages in separate classrooms, but only if the rest of the school activities are integrated in order to prevent future problems. Nevertheless, each case should be examined on its own, since an experiment conducted in a particular school or region won’t necessarily suit all educational institutions in each city or district. 

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