Jason Baeten thinks so. He taught for 10 years at the Julia Morgan School for Girls, and this week he opened an all-boys middle school in Berkeley, the East Bay School for Boys. Their first assignment was to build their own desks, which was fun (and at times, sort of funny) to watch:
We’ll have a story about this new school in Sunday’s paper. In the meantime, I’m curious about the idea of designing instruction around girls or boys, which is becoming more common in public schools. Gender-specific classrooms have been considered in Oakland Unified, though lately that’s been overshadowed by lots of other changes, school board member Jumoke Hinton Hodge told me this week.
Should the district create gender-specific schools or, at some places, classrooms within a school? What advantages and disadvantages do you see with that approach?
Some have proposed schools with an even more specific group in mind: African-American boys. Chris Chatmon, of 100 Black Men of the Bay Area, wants to open charter schools in Richmond, Oakland and San Francisco modeled after the Eagle Academy for Young Men in the Bronx, NY.
Here’s an excerpt from the Eagle Academy Foundation’s website:
Our mission is a direct response to the urgent need to reverse abysmal graduation and college completion rates among young men in urban centers, particularly African-American males. The Eagle Academy Foundation tailored curriculum is based on the developmental stages and learning styles of young men as well as the unique challenges facing urban youth.
Is this what Oakland needs? If not, are there approaches to pedagogy and changes to the traditional school structure that should be used to make school more engaging to all kids? Are there schools or teachers that are doing it now? Tell us your ideas.