Bethesda’s Holton-Arms School

Bethesda’s Holton-Arms School is one of four schools across the country that will offer single-sex Internet courses through the new “Online School For Girls” this year, the Washington Post reports. The single-sex online education experiment is meant to cater to female students who “learn differently with technology than boys,” proponents say. The reasoning behind the online school is similar to that of classroom-based initiatives which claim to serve the sexes better separately:

Backers of girls’ schools say there are benefits to having no boys in the classroom: Girls prosper when teaching methods are designed just for them, they can pursue interests free from gender stereotyping and their hands shoot up more often when boys aren’t around.

I don’t begrudge Bethesda’s prep-school set from exploring all its educational options. But personally, I find this particular solution to gender inequality in education to be utter bullshit. Tailoring teaching methods to girls, eliminating gender stereotypes in the classroom, and encouraging girls to participate? These goals ought to be no-brainers in every classroom, and teachers ought to be instructed to teach to the whole class. Why not put our resources toward addressing these issues together?

Girls and boys will be collaborating and competing with each other well past prep school. Learning to collaborate and compete as equals is important, and not just in the interest of everyone getting along. If the sexes have different educational needs, as these segregated programs suggest, why see it as a liability? Why not, instead, see difference as a huge asset to both boys and girls, who can learn valuable tactics from each other? Equality-minded co-ed education won’t just help girls achieve future success in a co-ed world. Boys, too, will learn to respect a diversity of learning styles in place of an institutionalized respect of male competititive style. And they may just learn a few things from their hot-shot female classmates, too.