Recent discussion about introducing some all-boys classes in this province has led to various opinions being advanced. Our premier, Dalton McGuinty, for example, has come out in support, at least in some cases. It is thought that many boys who are lagging behind their brighter sisters could benefit from separation from the fairer sex. I imagine that the supposed benefits are two-fold: (i) they would be less intimidated by being separated from the more verbally advanced females; (ii) and, they could be taught in a way that would cater to their learning styles.
I really don't have much of an opinion on the matter. If the right boys and right teachers were identified and the right training and the right resources made available in the right-size classrooms, it might work out well for some. However, by and large, I rather feel that most boys benefit to some degree by being in mixed groups — and vice versa, I suppose. The trouble is that I listed five rights above, and my experiences in the education system informs me that most criteria are not met when push comes to shove or, more correctly, when dollars come into play. I have seen wonderful plans on paper not implemented correctly because the dollars were not allocated to implement them appropriately.
However, my main purpose in mentioning this topic is to reminisce about my personal experience as a student in an all-boys class. I was fourteen and got stuck in one, quite by accident I presume as I rather doubt that I was seen to be in danger of not progressing in a mixed class.
As I said, I was fourteen and still small. As a kid born towards the end of the school year, I was always one of the youngest anyway, but there seemed to be a number of hold-backs in this group, so the discrepancy was greater than usual. To some extent, I felt like a boy among men although I'm sure that at least half of the class felt the same way. Let's just say that there were some tall kids with deep voices in that group. It didn't help that I entered the class friendless, all of my buddies and acquaintances having ended up on the other side of a school boundary line. I got through the year and don't suppose that my education was stunted to any significant degree. It certainly wasn't ameliorated either, but I don't think that matters much.
We had some very good teachers, some of the best that I ever had. Whether that was by fluke or design, I know not. We also had some that were less than stellar, at least for that particular, very difficult group. One beleaguered math teacher resorted to strapping boys in class, but it didn't help his overall effectiveness much if at all, and my math results were quite atrocious that year. However, Mr Lafon was a great French teacher, and Mr Decarie was a fine history teacher while Mr Hopper did a great job with music. "Play the Bolero sir."
That was my only experience in an all-boys class, and it wasn't particularly positive, but there were a lot of factors at play, so I can't really draw conclusions other than to say that I'm not exactly jumping on the bandwagon.