(pic taken from thebookwormcentral.blogspot.com)
I’ve had a bit of time to think about this since I last wrote my blog and to tell you the truth, some of the comments that were made about my post threw me off and made me question my approach to teaching, especially in regards to the groupings of boys and girls. When I posted the original post on Facebook, I had a few people saying that this approach was incorrect and that I was promoting the boy/girl divide by doing this, which I have never intended to. However, when I posted it on twitter, a few people agreed with my approach, which made me understand that there is a matter of opinion.
I’m not saying all my classes were separated into a boys group and a girls group, it just depended on the ability. It would still be an ability split and granted there were a couple of girls who could compete with the boys, but they did not feel comfortable to be the only two girls in the majority boys group.
I questioned myself a lot on whether I was causing more harm than good, so I decided to ask my students about what they preferred. All the girls did say that they preferred to be in the girls group, mainly because the boys would not include them in the games. Girls would even come up to me during the game and say, the boys are not passing it to me. I would usually modify the game rules then and the would get the girls more involved. When I asked them about which approach they preferred, they would say that they prefer to learn in an all girls group. Yes, it is my responsibility to change this mind set and it has to be done slowly, so the girls grow in confidence and the boys are more receptive. This could be a cultural thing or something that has been accepted before I got here, but when there is opportunity to mix, I will.
However, I still believe in the circumstances that I am in and having tried a mixed approach and segregated approach, the girls excelled further in the segregated approach. During the unit, some girls would then be promoted to the boys group and would be completely comfortable. However, this would not have been possible if I did this at the start. It is just coincidence that when grouping the students into ability groups, there tends to be a more male dominant and female dominant group.
Having said all of that, I have a grade 11 class that are completely mixed and a grade 10 class that are slowly making the shift. I also have a grade 8 class where the girls were better than the boys at touch rugby, but the skills were taught separately to begin with and then they were able to complete. From my experience so far, this is not a rule for all my groups, as it also depends on the unit that I am teaching, but it is something that most of my classes naturally ended up doing, especially during the game units.