Gregory’s false good idea

Gregory Charles got into jazzing out loud about education during a recent interview with my colleague Alexandre Pratt1. His observations came like a thunderbolt and even sparked speculation about a possible political career for the multi-talented artist.

Posted at 5:00 am

First of all I would like to say this: It is clear that Gregory Charles has been thinking about education for a long time. He went beyond the school-is-the-base-of-everything-type clichés that no one denies.

The artist started a discussion about education, for that I give him an A+. I dream that in Quebec we will discuss education as often – and as intensely – as we discuss identity.

Those are the flowers.

There isn’t really a pot, but there is a big caveat to Gregory Charles’ views on some of his statements. I’m just going to discuss his certainties about each class here, the boys on one side and the girls on the other…

It’s a false good idea, even if you can intuitively think it’s a very good one.

The idea of ​​returning to gender-segregated classes beyond opinion was shaken by the data.

One of the most-cited studies on this topic is the meta-analysis by University of Wisconsin researcher Janet Hyde, who in 2014 analyzed 183 studies involving 1.6 million children in kindergarten, elementary and secondary education in 21 countries2.

Observation: There are no clear advantages in terms of academic outcomes with same-sex classes. And there are definite downsides, particularly in terms of reinforcing boy-girl stereotypes.

Yes, boys do better in same-sex classes, the researcher found. But in the United States, parents who choose single-sex education tend to be better educated and wealthier than average. However, the level of education of parents and their income are one of the recognized indicators of their children’s academic success. What makes these students successful? We can’t say it’s the same-sex class.

In 2013 I wrote about an experience at Collège Reine-Marie in east Montreal. This private school was reserved for girls until 2012. When we opened the doors to boys, we did so on the basis of: same-sex classes, mixed school life.


Marc Tremblay, Rector of Queen Marie College

Headmaster Marc Tremblay wanted to adapt the teaching to boys and girls, according to their respective needs, according to their respective challenges. Intuitively, it’s an idea that makes sense, an idea that seemed very fruitful to me: Boys have problems at school, for example they are over-represented among school dropouts.

But specifically, nine years later, the director made the following observation: It was a false good idea.

First, he explained to me, it’s a big challenge for the teachers who have to modulate their approach, say from 9am to 10am for the boys, and then do the same course for girls from 10am to 11am. Harder than it looks.

Then the results just weren’t there. In the end, “we didn’t notice a big difference in the boys’ results with the experience from the same-sex classes,” says Marc Tremblay. The gap in outcomes between boys and girls remains large, which can be explained for several reasons.”

Ten years later, at the Collège Reine-Marie, the classes are mixed.

We realized in 2018 that this was not a winning approach academically. Concretely, in single-sex classes, the theory is good. But practice is different.

Marc Tremblay, Rector of Queen Marie College

Initially, administrators of the Collège Reine-Marie believed that boys and girls would naturally socialize in school life outside of the classroom. It wasn’t quite like that: “In the canteen, for example, the boys tended to stay with the boys and the girls with the girls. We imagined they’d end up rubbing their shoulders, but that’s not so true. At the first cohort’s prom, the boy-girl bond wasn’t there. It confronted us,” said director Marc Tremblay, who is retiring in June.

And today another topic: What to do in a school with same-sex classes with students who identify as neither male nor female? Marc Tremblay: “This notion of non-gender has appeared and we have to deal with it, it is present in a school that wants to be current. »

I come back to Gregory Charles. Interview with Paul Arcand3 the day after the publication of the chronicle by Alexandre Pratt, the professor of Star Academy saw another advantage over same-sex classes. Removing girls from the eyes of teenagers who have “barbecue hormones” which would be very distracting…

My Answer: Removing girls from the teens’ sight in the name of their good concentration in chemistry class is another false good idea.

Women are part of society, period. Boys need to learn how to deal with women, teenage hormones or not.

To quote director Marc Tremblay again, who includes gender relations in his observation of the failure of single-sex education: “There is a nasty challenge to gender relations in Quebec. They need to be improved. We have a duty of education as far as boys are concerned in their relationships with girls. And not at 17, when they get out of high school. It was part of our concern: the boys have to deal with the girls, the girls have to deal with the boys. »

I seem to be fending off Gregory Charles, but that’s not the intention, not at all. On the contrary, I’m glad someone of his caliber is on fire for education in Quebec. When he puts forward answers that are sometimes out of date, some of his questions are very valid and under-discussed, particularly on boys’ success…

The singer has been sparking heated discussions about the school since Sunday. It’s not nothing. I hope they will continue (although I doubt it). If Quebec had debated education with the same passion it has debated the place of religious symbols in our society since Hérouxville, I believe the problem of early school leaving would already be solved.

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