Imagine my surprise on reading a research on gender-segregated classes in Canada!
When I was in high school in the Middle East, Bengali classes, which happened twice a week, was eagerly looked forward to by the guys. Our high school was segregated by gender. Boys had their own buildings and entrance and playground, while the girls had theirs - and the twain shall never meet except after school hours when most of the guys would go around to the girls' entrance on the pretext of waiting for their 'sisters'. In fact, one of the biggest reasons cricket was so popular was that if you could manage to hit a six properly, the ball would go to the girls' playground, and then the fielders would make a dash to fetch that ball - but I digress.
The reason Bengali class was so popular was that it was the only subject that was taught combined. So the scheduling would be such that Bengali boys would join the girls of the same class in some classroom for that period only. Twice a week. Apparently it was hard to find qualified Bengali teachers for the British O'Level system and our school had only one. Oh, how we lorded over our non-Bengali friends over that fact.
So there was this one student, shall we call him X. So X decided to pass a note to this girl (naturally seated across the aisle on the other half of the classroom). X therefore wrote his note on a piece of paper, folded it into a paper airplane, and while the teacher's back was turned, threw it across the room and then quickly ducked back into his books.
Unfortunately for him, Muslims and pilots are not meant to be. The plane took a dip, changed directions in mid air and came to rest - directly behind the teacher's feet. Unknown to X, who was concentrating sharply on the Amar Boi text book, the teacher bent down, picked up the paper, read it, and then turned to the class.
"X!" She suddenly announced. "I am quite impressed at your writing recently."
"Um, thanks?" X, though puzzled, beamed. Yet another chance to impress the ladies.
"Yes, not only by your writing, vocabulary, but also your reading skills have improved considerably. Why don't you come here and read this poem?"
Oh, how X eagerly stepped forward to the teacher's desk. And how his heart must have skipped a beat when he saw the unfolded paper note, formerly an airplane, in the teacher's hand.
He spent the next two classes standing outside the classroom.
Now, before you think X is me, let me tell you X wasn't me. Firstly, the teacher was my MOM, and I would NEVER dare to try anything in her class. Second, I was sort of oblivious to girls at that age. Idiot me.
So, why this piece of nostalgia? Well, today, I read this article in the Star on how this B.C. principal commented on a study they did which seemed to prove that pupils excel when boys and girls are split up. According to the study, maths, reading comprehension and writing skills all improved because "segregating has taken away social pressures". In fact boys outperformed girls in many areas after being segregated.
I leave you with a little food (a morsel really) for thought. I showed the study to two friends of mine, Sheikh and DJ. Sheikh, as his name suggested, told me this is why Islam is the solution and how UofT today are discovering that wudu washes away your sins, and now, segregating classes lead to brighter students.
Then when I was talking to DJ (who really is a DJ), and he exclaimed "maths and English are not the only skills people need to know. What about social skills? Or interaction? How many Muslim students do you know who come from such a background and then 'go crazy' once they are away from parental supervision? And how many don't but cannot deal properly with girls, or their wives?"
Tags: Segregated Classes