Sax’s book and lectures also include neurological diagrams and scores of citations of obscure scientific studies, like one by a Swedish researcher who found, in a study of 96 adults, that males and females have different emotional and cognitive responses to different kinds of light.
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By this past fall, Sax says, that number had soared to more than 360, with boys- and girls-only classrooms now established in Cleveland; Detroit; Albany; Gary, Ind.; Philadelphia; Dallas; and Nashville, among other places. Sax’s official foray into single-sex public-school advocacy started in early 2002, when, he says, he applied for “a 501(c)(3) with the pretentious and improbable name of the National Association for Single-Sex Public Education.” In its first few years, N. If you try to stop girls from talking to one another, that’s not successful. The two anecdotes are capsule versions of the boys’ and girls’ crises, and depending on one’s point of view, Sax effectively either addresses or exploits these parental concerns.
A disproportionate number of the schools are in the South (where attitudes toward gender roles tend to be more conservative) or serve disadvantaged kids. Wylie described her job to me by saying, “It’s my subversive mission to create all these strong girls who will then go out into the world and be astonished when people try to oppress them.” Sax calls schools like T. So you do a lot of meeting in circles, where every girl can share something from her own life that relates to the content in class.” While Sax rejects the notion that he is a gender essentialist — according to Sax’s own definition, “a gender essentialist is a derogatory term that arose in the 1970s to define someone who is an idiot, or a Republican, or both, who does not understand that gender is socially constructed” — he does say that “human nature is gendered to the core” and that “all that happens when you take a toy gun away from your son and give him a doll instead is that you tell him, ‘I don’t like the person that you are and I wish you were more like your sister, Emily.’ ” He opens “Why Gender Matters” with two cautionary tales: one about a boy who starts kindergarten at age 5, is given a diagnosis of A. After presenting the Adderall-doped grammar-school boy and the suicidal middle-school girl, Sax offers a possible cause of these sad stories.
The boys like being on their own, they say, because girls don’t appreciate their jokes and think boys are too messy, and are also scared of snakes.