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Friday, November 02, 2007

Puppy-Dogs' Tails

Edward Glaeser says boys and girls are different, and they may need be educated and socialized separately in some cases:

Violence, learning, and the gender divide, by Edward L. Glaeser, Commentary, Boston Globe: I agree with the view that teaching math in different ways to girls and boys is pernicious and silly. But schooling is about teaching socially productive citizenship as well as geometry, and the difference in male and female propensities toward self-destructive violence is no myth.

Men are more than eight times as likely as women to commit murder and more than 50 times as likely to engage in a gang-related killing. My gender commits 84 percent of all violent crimes. Young men are four times more likely than women to carry a gun and five times more likely to commit suicide.

The tendency of young men to be violent is not peculiarly American. ... While male violence is universal, societies differ in their ability to channel that violence. With the right kinds of investment, male aggression can be put to good uses, such as winning the World Series and running hedge funds.

We are failing our young men because we have not made that investment. We have made our streets safer by incarcerating millions, more than 90 percent of whom are male, but we have inflicted a terrible cost on millions of lost boys.

Investing more in schools that provide both economic opportunity and social skills is an alternative to prisons in the fight against youth violence. But should those schools refuse to "sort students" on the basis of gender... There is no single, right answer and pragmatism, not doctrine, should shape our policies.

Sometimes, we should refuse to recognize gender and treat men and women identically. In other settings, it may make sense to use gender-specific tools to help violent young men and even to separate boys and girls. ...

Single-sex schools are among the thorniest issues relating to gender and at-risk youth, and the evidence on such schools is murky. Many single-sex schools have been successful, but their success may tell us more about the children they admit than about the impact of the school.

Still, the magnitude of society's problems compels us to be open to educational innovation. While co-education is surely best for most Americans, we should also allow parents the opportunity to enroll their children in single-sex charter schools that give more discipline for boys, more safety for girls, and more targeted support for both genders. ...

I want my daughter and son to be taught science and math in exactly the same way, but I will not be surprised if my son needs a little more help learning to control his teenage aggression. After all, I needed a little more help.

    Posted by on Friday, November 2, 2007 at 01:17 AM in Economics | Permalink  TrackBack (0)  Comments (25)

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