I ordinarily wouldn't have read Elizabeth Weil's New York Times Magazine article on single-sex education, but since she quotes "Sara Mead, an education expert at the New America Foundation" I checked it out.

The whole thing seems a bit dubious. I think there's a very sound policy argument that we should have more experimentation with pedagogical techniques and I have no problem with the idea that experimentation with single-sex education should be part of that. But this guy Leonard Sax just sounds like a quack. I mean, here's a guy who's not a neurologist and has no policy experience, but he's decided to draw sweeping policy conclusions based on controversial neurological research? I have my doubts.

At any rate, you find much more along these lines from Sara herself at her new blog. Bottom line:

As a result, boys and girls are, on average, at different levels of lanugage and motor development when they enter school. Sax and Gurian see this as one argument for separate sex, gender-based schooling. That might be reasonable if gender were the only source of variance in young children's learning. But it's not: Young children's development is highly variable. Some 5-year-old girls might lag many boys in language skills, and some boys' motor skills might lag those of their female peers. If one is really concerned about adjusting education to variations in children's development, increased customization and multi-age groupings in early elementary school, which allow teachers to group children who are developmentally similar, regardless of age, and chidlren to progress at their own paces, are a far better solution than simply separating children by sex.



In mild defense of the article, it seems to me that if you read it all the way through it becomes clear that Sax is a quack. On the other hand, the whole framing of the piece around Sax and his ideas seems to suggest that he's not a quack and we all need to be wrestling with his fake neurology.