Sunday, July 06, 2003

Newsflash: Boys perform better at single-sex schools

And, as we’ve long known, girls also perform better at single-sex schools, with co-ed schools being merely tolerated by the feminist establishment – we’ll let the boys in (and do note that it’s for their own good) as long as you let us run the show generally.

Gender politics is a tricky area to write about – one is apt to be easily misunderstood by those who feel they’re on the receiving end. Worse, one is liable to find friends in and from places they are neither expected nor wanted (the men’s movement has had aspects to it calculatingly worse than any of feminism’s excesses).

When something as fundamental as the (public) education system has been set up to be a lose-lose proposition, however, it’s time for a short sharp shock. I don’t believe that feminine bossiness – or “wiles”, as it used to be called, before it was a thing grafted on to workplace culture – is the main cause of the current deplorable state of public education. Nor is the admitted gross under-funding of government schools (Australian universities have suffered more harshly in this respect, without – yet – allowing themselves to disintegrate en masse into places of toxic mediocrity).

No – the blame is really quite easy to apportion; once and if you accept that demographics run deeper than gender. Running the education system as a Benthamite exercise in low-level, pointless tyranny – sounds straight out of the “The First and Only Habit of Highly Effective Baby Boomers” chap book, if you ask me. And such head-weak careering has not been a solely female preserve, by any means. Look at the trajectory of Michael Duffy, a self-described long-term manual worker, starting upon finishing university (presumably at 21). Proving the virus-like mutability of baby boomers (or possibly that they just have no real conception of time), Duffy had nonetheless made it to the very un-menial top of the NSW public service by age 31.

My strong guess is that it wasn’t Duffy’s work in factories and warehouses that blooded him for such a good job, so young. As usual, the devil is in the nondescript middle bit – which happened to be Duffy’s stint in the government department now known as Centrelink. Which, if you don’t know from your own experience, is government school for grown-ups – a place resplendently gender-neutral from queue to shining breach.

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